Bir Tawil is a wedge of land between Egypt and Sudan. Neither wants to claim Bir Tawil: it is one of the only unclaimed territories in the world.
Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde set the course of 20th century classical music by keeping the audience in suspense for four hours with a single unresolved chord.
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw many feminist utopias that portrayed a society run by women: by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Irene Clyde, former New Zealand prime minister Julius Vogel, and the influential Bangladeshi author Begum Rokeya.
The first Olympic marathon was pretty wild: an Australian competitor collapsed and then punched a spectator, the third-place runner was disqualified for riding in a carriage, and a woman prevented from entering ran the same course the next day.
Between 1894 and 1895 Annie Londonderry cycled around the world – the first woman to do so.
The Church of One Tree in Santa Rosa, California, was built in 1873 out of a single giant redwood tree.
Eugene Debs received more than 900,000 votes in the 1920 American presidential election – while in prison for sedition.
How did people wake up in the morning before alarm clocks? They paid to get knocked up.
Sarah Josepha Hale published “Mary had a Little Lamb” in 1830. Forty-six years later, Mary Tyler claimed to be the original Mary.
The fastest sailing route around the world – the Clipper route – is also the most dangerous.
Georgian London’s most famous prankster once summoned thousands of officials and tradespeople to the house of an unsuspecting victim.
What do the bicycle, Marmite, Mormonism, and Frankenstein have in common? A volcano in Indonesia.
Take a log, paint it black, and make sure your enemy can see it. The “quaker guns” were a key piece of strategic deception in the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
On 17 February 1832 – at the bidding of Neptune, god of the sea – Charles Darwin was blindfolded, his face covered in paint and pitch, and he was dunked into a water bath. He had crossed the line for the first time.
19th century glass artists Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka provided natural history museums around the world with lifelike glass replicas of marine life.
Temulji Bhicaji Nariman was a knight, a dean, a plague doctor, a sheriff, a grandmaster, and his marriage lasted longer than almost any other in recorded history.