The world this week: Space landings and literary achievements

Libby Stanford trawls the archives for the key events and notable deaths from this week in history

Sunday 27 January 2019 21:45 GMT
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1986: the Challenger spacecraft burst into flames 73 seconds after it launched
1986: the Challenger spacecraft burst into flames 73 seconds after it launched (AP)

28 January

In 1813, Jane Austen published her most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice. It has sold over 20 million copies since.

Fabian von Bellingshausen discovered Antarctica in 1820. Bellinghausen, a Russian explorer, claimed to have the first sighting of the continent. However, Edward Bransfield, an Englishman, and Nathaniel Palmer, an American, also claimed to be the first to spot it.

In 1958, the Lego brick was patented. Today, there are around 62 blocks for every person on Earth.

USA for Africa recorded “We Are the World” in 1985, raising money to combat famine in Ethiopia. It featured Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and 43 other famous musicians.

A year later, the space shuttle Challenger burst into flames 73 seconds after it launched from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, killing the seven astronauts on board.

Deaths: Charlemange, 814, French King; Henry VIII, 1547, king of England; WB Yeats, 1939, Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner.

29 January

Edgar Allan Poe published The Raven in 1845. The New York Mirror published the poem, which made Poe a celebrity.

In 1886, Carl Benz patened the first gasoline-driven car called Benz Patent Motorwagen Number 1.

San Francisco hippies attended the Mantra-Rock Dance, a major spiritual event for the San Francisco hippie era, in 1967.

The term “axis of evil” made its debut in 2002 during then president George W Bush’s State of the Union address. Bush used the term to describe Iran, North Korea and Iraq, in response to terror incidents.

Deaths: George III, 1820, king of England; Ioannis Metaxas, 1941, former prime minister of Greece; Robert Frost, 1963, American poet and playwright; Janet Frame, 2004, New Zealand author; Milton Babbitt, 2011, American composer.

30 January

In 1933, Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany, marking the end to the Weimar Republic and the beginning of the Third Reich. Twelve years later in 1945, a Soviet Union submarine sunk the “Wihelm Gustloff”, killing 9,400 people during the Second World War. It was the deadliest maritime disaster in history.

In 1948 a Hindu fanatic assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement. Gandhi’s movement inspired many other leaders across the world.

The Beatles gave their last public performance in 1969 at a concert on the rooftop of the Apple Corps building in London. Three years later in 1972, British troops killed 13 unarmed protesters during “Bloody Sunday”.

Fifteen-year-old Richard Skrenta released Elk Cloner, the first computer virus, into the wild in 1982 as a practical joke.

Deaths: Charles I, 1649, king of England; Orville Wright, 1948, inventor of the first aeroplane; Ferdinand Porsche, 1951, founder of the Porsche; Francis Poulenc, 1963, French composer; Johnnie Johnson, 2001, English pilot.

Ham the Chimp was the first living creature to fly above the atmosphere on 31 January 1961
Ham the Chimp was the first living creature to fly above the atmosphere on 31 January 1961

31 January

The 13th amendment to the US constitution passed in 1865. The amendment officially abolished slavery although full equal rights for African Americans weren’t achieved until nearly a century later.

Ham, the first chimpanzee to travel to space, survived the US Mercury Programme test flight in 1961. Because Ham survived, Alan Shepard was able to become the first person to fly above Earth’s atmosphere later that same year.

In 2010, Alaska Airlines flight 261 crashed into the sea, killing all 88 people on board.

Deaths: Guy Fawkes, 1606, English soldier who planned the Gunpowder Plot; John Bosco, 1888, Italian priest and educator; Edwin Armstrong, 1954, American engineer and inventor of FM radio; AA Milne, 1956, English author; Meher Baba, 1969, Indian mystic.

African American students stage a sit-in in a restaurant in Greensboro, North Carolina, to protest segregation on 1 February 1960
African American students stage a sit-in in a restaurant in Greensboro, North Carolina, to protest segregation on 1 February 1960 (Bettmann Archive)

1 February

The first fascicle of the Oxford English Dictionary debuted in 1884. It contained entries A to Ant.

The Greensboro sit-ins in 1960 were a milestone in the civil rights movement. Four black students sat in the “whites-only” section of a restaurant, protesting racial segregation.

In 1968, Eddie Adams took one of the Vietnam War’s most famous photos. The photo depicted the execution of a Vietcong officer in Saigon. It was used to build opposition to the war.

Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran in 1979 after 15 years in exile. His return marked the begining of the Iranian Revolution.

In 2003, space shuttle Columbia disintigrated on its journey back to Earth. The seven astronauts aboard died.

Deaths: Mary Shelley, 1851, author of Frankenstein; Buster Keaton, 1966, American author, director and producer; Werner Heisenberg, 1976, German physicist and Nobel Prize laureate; Geirr Tveitt, 1981, Norweigan composer; Hildegard Knef, 2002, German actress.

2 February

The first public flushing toilet opened in 1852 in London. It cost 2p.

In 1922, James Joyce published Ulysses, considered one of the most important works of modernist literature.

The Battle of Stalingrad came to an end in 1943 when the Axis powers surrendered. The Germans lost to the Soviet Union in the battle, marking a major turning point in the Second World War.

The Iditarod race started in 1925 after 20 mushers transported medicine to Nome, Alaska. The dog sled race is still the world’s longest and most challenging.

Apartheid in South Africa started to fall apart in 1990 when President Frederik Willem de Klerk announced his intentions to release Nelson Mandela and for the African National Congress to be disbanded. Apartheid segregated all white and non-white people in South Africa, allowing little contact between the two groups.

Deaths: Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, 1945, German politician; Bertrand Russell, 1970, English mathematician, historian, philosopher and Nobel Prize laureate; Natalie Clifford Barney, 1972, American poet and playwright; Sid Vicious, 1979, bassist for the Sex Pistols; Gene Kelly, 1996, American dancer and actor.

The plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP Richardson marked ‘the day the music died’
The plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP Richardson marked ‘the day the music died’ (Getty)

3 February

In 1966, Luna 9 became the first Soviet spacecraft to achieve a soft landing on the moon.

Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP Richardson were killed in a plane crash in Iowa on this day in 1959. The event was later referred to as “the day the music died” in Don McLean’s hit “American Pie”.

Yasser Arafat became leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in 1969. The 1972 Iran blizzard, the deadliest snowstorm in history, killed 4,000 people.

Alfredo Stroessner, the Paraguayan dictator who came into power in 1954 via a military coup, was overthrown on this day in 1984.

Deaths: Johannes Gutenberg, 1468, inventor of the printing press; Gia Long, 1820, Vietnamese emperor; Woodrow Wilson, 1924, 28th president of the United States; Anna May Wong, 1961, American actress; Frank Oppenheimer, 1985, American physician.

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