This was the week that was

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The Independent Culture
Today On this day in 1914 all hell was let loose in the West End when George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion opened: as Eliza Doolittle, Shaw's own fair lady Mrs Patrick Campbell had to utter the words "not bloody likely".

Tomorrow The Messiah had its first performance in 1742, in Dublin. The tradition of the audience standing up for the Hallelujah Chorus began later with an enthusiastic George II.

Wednesday The first commercial film show was on a "Kinetoscope" or peepshow device in New York in 1894; titles included Horse Shoeing, Barber Shop and the controversial mini-epic Cock Fight.

Thursday The Titanic went down in 1912, leading to disastrous loss of life and, 86 years later, a disastrous awarding of Oscars. In 1925 Sir James Barrie made Christmas come early to Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital; even better than being a blood donor, he gave the hospital the royalties from Peter Pan.

Friday The dramatist Aphra Behn died in 1689. According to Virginia Woolf, she was the first Englishwoman to make a living by writing, although she also moonlighted as a spy for Charles II.

Goya died in 1828; an expert in death studies, he referred to the series of his paintings which included Madhouse, Procession of Flagellants and Tribunal of the Inquisition, as "popular diversions".

Saturday The summertime blues came early for the classic rocker Eddie Cochran, when he was killed in a car accident during his 1960 tour of Britain.

Sunday The Italian tenor Enrico Caruso was in San Francisco to sing in Carmen, when the 1906 earthquake turned 28,000 buildings into rubble.

Jonathan Sale