This Was The Week That Was

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Today On this day in 1972, the Queen Mother made showbiz history by becoming the first living member of the Royal Family portrayed on stage; Crown Matrimonial, a play about the 1936 abdication crisis, opened at the Haymarket Theatre, London. Cellist Jacqueline du Pre died of MS in 1987, little knowing that her biography-writing sister would later be humming all the way to the bank.

Tuesday In 1960 Penguin Books waddled into the Old Bailey dock under obscenity charges over Lady Chatterley's Lover. Thanks to the prosecution ("Is this a book which you would wish... your servants to read?"), Penguin eventually got off without so much as a stain on its feathers.

Wednesday Arthur Schnitzler, who wrote La Ronde, died in 1931 and so missed The Blue Room, David Hare's adaptation, not to mention Nicole Kidman revealing her thespian charms. Jack Kerouac, whose seminal On the Road had kick-started the beat generation was personally found off the road in every sense in 1969.

Thursday Thomas Sheraton, furniture designer and author of partwork on cabinet making, died in 1806. He seems to have been far too smart to dirty his hands by doing any actual carpentry.

Friday To save gramophone users from having to put on a new disc every three minutes, 20-year-old Eric Waterworth of Tasmania launched his automatic record changer in 1925.

Saturday In 1897 the New York Journal became the first paper to run a strip cartoon, Yellow Kid. The colour was chosen as an experiment in tinting (as opposed to Tintin) and gave us the phrase "yellow press", which is certainly more polite than "gutter".

Sunday Radio request programmes had their inauspicious beginning in 1936 with You Ask - We Play, on a Berlin station. Requests were played live by musicians from Hitler's personal SS gang, with all proceeds going to the Nazi Winter Help Fund.

Jonathan Sale