Arts: This was the week that was

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The Independent Culture

On this day in 1949, Helene Hanff wrote from New York to a second-hand bookseller at 84 Charing Cross Road, little knowing its address would become a film title and she would be (embarrassingly) played by Anne Bancroft.


"You ain't heard nothin' yet," promised Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer (below). With 354 words of dialogue and a few songs, this 1927 movie is claimed the first "talkie".


In 1922, the Prince of Wales made the first royal broadcast, addressing a Scout rally via the pioneering radio station, 2LO (or Radio Dib Dib Dib).


Mr Mole and His Mates was the title Kenneth Grahame wanted for his book, published in 1908, but Methuen called it The Wind in the Reeds, and finally The Wind in the Willows.


Camille Saint-Saens, composer of Carnival of the Animals, was born in 1835. He began to compose at five but turned out to be a late developer, not writing his first symphony until he was 17.


In Hackney (pause), in 1910 (another pause), Mrs Pinter gave birth to a son (very long pause), Harold. Ralph Richardson, a Pinterian actor, died in 1983; he persuaded the National Theatre to fire rockets on first nights.


In 1919, pianist Billy Jones became Britain's first jazz musician when he played with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, which later returned to the USA, pursued by a Lord with a shotgun and a grudge about his daughter.