7th November 1913 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: in the coastal town of Mondovi in French North Africa (now Drean in Algeria), Albert Camus, Nobel Prize winner author, journalist and philosopher. “No [he said] I am not an existentialist”, but english school masters obviously weren’t paying attention at the time…


DIED TODAY: in Broadstone, in Dorset, England – Alfred Russel Wallace [born in January 1823] who narrowly missed immortality when Darwin successfully appropriated the theory of evolution (survival of the fittest, perhaps?) but is enjoying a second coming now, courtesy of facebook and the blogosphere. A bronze statue is also a “work-in-progress”, in opposition to “the Art Establishment – with their heads full of conceptual installations, dead cows and dirty bed sheets” [Wallace Statue Campaign].



Labour Relations: In New Zealand, George Adkin, by occupation a farmer with foxgloves on his mind, is drafted in to help with strike-breaking in the “Great Strike”, and faithfully records events in his normally bucolic diary:

Wet night.  Squadrons left for wharves at 8.30.  Our troop took up position in Featherston St, opposite the Railway  Department Buildings.  No crowd to-day – so rang Mackay’s for book (the Rly Depart also gave us magazines) + put in time reading.  For dinner went to one of Harbour Board’s sheds – while waiting the driver of a striker’s wagon drove right through our formation scattering horses – the man was arrested.  Dinner consisted of tea + bread + cheese. [Museum of New Zealand – George Leslie Adkin’s diary].


Extreme Weather: In North America, the Great Lakes is experiencing its worst ever recorded weather “The Great Storm”, with 19 ships lost and 238 sailors drowned.


17th July 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: in Marseilles, France – to Catholic and Atheist parents – Roger Garaudy, youthful protestant, French resistance member, post-war communist, Marxist, deputy speaker of the National Assembly, expelled from the communist party for criticising the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, political philosopher and convert to Islam (Ragaa Garaudy) in 1982.

World Affairs: Sheikh Abdullah Bin Qassim Al-Thani becomes the ruler of Qatar, succeeding Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, who had reigned since 1878 after the death of Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani, who had ruled since 1850.

Second Balkan War: Bulgarian Prime Minister Stoyan Petrov Danev resigns and is replaced by Vasil Hristov Radoslavov.

Early Flight: On Salisbury Plain in England, Major Alexander Hewetson is killed when his Bristol Prier-Dickson monoplane crashes during his test flight for his aviator certificate. The inquest concludes that the accident was caused by lack of skill on the part of the pilot.

28th May 1913 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in Novonikolaevsk, Siberia – Monia Talan, MBE – Platoon Sergeant and later Company Sergeant Major, and member of the British elite Special Operations Executive. Refugee from the Russian Revolution aged 5, member of the Shanghai Volunteers in his youth, Hong Kong soldier and later businessman during and after World War 2.  Retired as a horse breeder with his Hungarian wife outside Melbourne, Australia in 1979.

Human rights: In a protest against the South African racist pass laws, a mass meeting of women in Waaihoek adopts a passive resistance stance. The women refuse to carry residential permits, and two hundred angry women march into town to see the mayor, later tearing up their passes and provoking 80 arrests.

Mysteries: Bertrand Russell records in a letter a recent meeting he has had with the philosopher Wittgenstein, and experiences “the younger generation knocking at the door”

We were both cross from the heat. I showed him a crucial part of what I had been writing. He said it was all wrong, not realizing the difficulties—that he had tried my view and knew it wouldn’t work. I couldn’t understand his objection—in fact he was very inarticulate—but I feel in my bones that he must be right, and that he has seen something that I have missed. If I could see it too I shouldn’t mind, but as it is, it is worrying, and has rather destroyed the pleasure in my writing—I can only go on with what I see, and yet I feel it is probably all wrong, and that Wittgenstein will think me a dishonest scoundrel for going on with it. Well, well—it is the younger generation knocking at the door—I must make room for him when I can, or I shall become an incubus. But at the moment I was rather cross”.

Three years later Russell wrote: “I saw he was right, and I saw that I could not hope ever again to do fundamental work in philosophy. My impulse was shattered, like a wave dashed to pieces against a breakwater”.[University College London – 2006: “What Wittgenstein saw and Russell missed”]

Society and technology: At Windsor Castle, England, a copy of today’s Paris newspaper, Le Matin – printed on silk – is delivered to King George V, having been flown across the channel. A second (back-up) copy – being delivered by a separate pilot – never arrives because the craft develops engine trouble and is forced to land short of its destination.