Jack Sheppard was a notorious English robber, burglar and thief of
early 18th-century London. Born into a poor family, he was apprenticed
as a carpenter but took to theft and burglary in 1723, with little
more than a year of his training to complete. He was arrested and
imprisoned five times in 1724 but escaped four times, making him a
notorious public figure, and wildly popular with the poorer classes.
Ultimately, he was caught, convicted, and hanged at Tyburn, ending his
brief criminal career after less than two years. The inability of the
noted "Thief-Taker General" (and thief) Jonathan Wild to control
Sheppard, and injuries suffered by Wild at the hands of Sheppard's
colleague, Joseph "Blueskin" Blake, led to Wild's downfall. Sheppard
was as renowned for his attempts to escape justice as for his crimes.
He returned to the public consciousness in around 1840, when William
Harrison Ainsworth wrote a novel entitled Jack Sheppard, with
illustrations by George Cruikshank. The popularity of his tale, and
the fear that others would be drawn to emulate his behaviour, led the
authorities to refuse to license any plays in London with "Jack
Sheppard" in the title for forty years.
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Today's selected anniversaries:
After reuniting Poland, Władysław the Short (sarcophagus figure
pictured) was crowned king in Kraków.
LaMarcus Adna Thompson, sometimes called the "Father of Gravity",
patented the roller coaster.
The first Turkish Constitution was ratified by the Grand National
Assembly, making fundamental changes in Turkey by enshrining the
principle of national sovereignty.
World War II: At the Wannsee Conference held in the Berlin suburb of
Wannsee, senior Nazi German officials decided the "Final Solution to
the Jewish Question", accelerating The Holocaust.
Black January: The Soviet Red Army violently cracked down on Azeri
pro-independence demonstrations in Baku, Azerbaijan SSR.
Wiktionary's Word of the day:
redolent: Fragrant or aromatic; having a sweet scent.
Wikiquote of the day:
I love child things because there's so much mystery when you're a
child. When you're a child, something as simple as a tree doesn't make
sense. You see it in the distance and it looks small, but as you go
closer, it seems to grow — you haven't got a handle on the rules when
you're a child. We think we understand the rules when we become adults
but what we really experienced is a narrowing of the imagination.
-- David Lynch