Lord Byron, the Romantic poet and infamous libertine, wrote a book of memoirs that may have set 19th century England aflame with scandal – if they hadn’t been deliberately destroyed within a month of his death.
Topsy the elephant was famously electrocuted in 1903. History has not been kind to her, so let’s set the record straight. No, she was not a victim of the AC vs. DC wars. No, she was not a killer elephant. Yes, she killed one man, but in clear self defence.
In the 1960s, Australia proposed moving the entire population of Nauru onto another island. Instead, the Nauruans opted for independence.
Princess Alexandra of Bavaria was a noted author and translator in the mid-19th century. She also firmly believed that as a young child she had swallowed a grand piano made of glass.
Michael Rockefeller, of the famous oil dynasty, was collecting indigenous art in Dutch New Guinea when his boat overturned. He may have drowned or been eaten by crocodiles, but the most likely theory is he suffered a much worse fate.
In 1925, staff from Osram, General Electric, Philips, and others met in Switzerland to artificially fix the life expectancy of light bulbs worldwide. For the next 14 years, the Phoebus cartel controlled the world supply of light.
In 1976, North Korea, South Korea, and the United States almost went to war over a single tree.
Manuel Noriega was the CIA-funded dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989. When the United States invaded Panama, they drove him out with The Clash’s cover of I Fought the Law.
Before television, people had to make their own fun. So they trained pigs to read.
In 1984, the Prime Minister of New Zealand announced a snap election on television while extremely drunk.
In late 1940s Hungary, the highest inflation rate ever recorded led to the creation of a banknote valued at one hundred quintillion pengő.
One month before the 1860 election, Abraham Lincoln was clean shaven. By inauguration day, he had a full beard, and wore it until the day he died. He grew it because a twelve-year-old girl told him to.
There is a street in Hong Kong called Rednaxela Terrace. Why is that interesting? Try spelling the name backwards.
If you kill someone because you think they’re a ghost, is it murder or manslaughter? Or self-defence?
Pink for girls, blue for boys. Or is it pink for boys, blue for girls? A persistent myth holds that colour stereotypes flipped some time in the 20th century.