Arts: This Was The Week That Was

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The Independent Culture
Today On this day in 1953 Dylan Thomas died during his lecture tour of the US, after six days in a coma following 18 straight whiskeys. As he nearly put in his best poem: "Do not go sober into that dark night."

Tomorrow In 1987 news surfaced - unlike the ship itself - of the discovery of the wrecked US brig Somers, which inspired Herman Melville's Billy Budd and then Benjamin Britten's opera. It was thought to be haunted by the ghosts of a crew that had been hanged for mutiny.

Wednesday In 1920 the complete burial service for the Unknown Soldier, held at Westminster Abbey, was preserved by the first electrical recording system - but this particular process by the Unknown Sound Recordist was not pursued.

Thursday In 1987 Van Gogh's Irises was sold for a then record price of pounds 30.2m. Appositely enough for a painting with such an insane price tag, it came from his In-Patient Period, while incarcerated at the St Remy lunatic asylum.

Friday Did ye ken that John Peel, the farmer commemorated in the huntin' song, died in 1954? Britain's first cinema showing only "talkies" opened 70 years ago in Manchester; the first all-talking feature film, Lights of New York, had been released only four months earlier.

Saturday Claude Monet was born in 1840. His painting Impression: Sunrise, shown at a pioneering exhibition with Renoir and Pissarro, gave us the word "Impressionism".

Sunday In 1952 New Musical Express, now NME, published Britain's first chart, Pop-pickers, and Vera Lynn was wowing them at Numbers 7, 8 and 9. In 1922 the American DJ Alan Freed was born. He is given the credit for inventing the term "rock'n'roll" and given the blame for involvement in the first "payola" scandal.

Jonathan Sale