Historic Birthdates in January

by Ben Johnson

Our selection of historic birthdates in January, including James Wolfe, Augustus John and King Richard II (pictured above) of England.

So without further ado, here are some famous people who were born in January…

1 Jan. 1879 E(dward) M(organ) Forster, London-born novelist, whose books include A Room with a View and Howards End, he published his masterpiece A Passage to India after moving there as a Maharajah’s secretary in 1921.
2 Jan. 1727 James Wolfe, British general whose famous victory against the French General Montcalm in Quebec on the Plains of Abraham, established British control throughout Canada.
3 Jan. 1892 J(ohn) R(onald) R(euel) Tolkien, academic and writer, Professor of English language and literature at Oxford University, now famously remembered as creator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
4 Jan. 1878 Augustus John, Tenby-born painter, noted for his portraits of gipsies, fishing folk and dignified and regal women, as in Lyric Fantasy (1913).
5 Jan. 1787 Sir John Burke, Irish genealogist and founder of Burke’s Peerage, published in 1826, the first dictionary of baronets and peers of the UK.
6 Jan. 1367 King Richard II of England, son of Edward the Black Prince, he succeeded his grandfather Edward III when only 10. After conflicts with his barons he was disposed and imprisoned in Pontefract Castle where he died mysteriously.
7 Jan. 1925 Gerald Durrell, author and naturalist. Born in India his interest in zoology appears to have started when his family moved to Corfu in the 1930’s, their comic exploits are captured in his novel My Family and other Animals.
8 Jan. 1824 Wilkie (William) Collins, London-born novelist and master of the suspense novel who wrote The Woman in White and The Moonstone. Perhaps due to failing health or opium addiction his later novels lacked the quality of his earlier work.
9 Jan. 1898 Dame Gracie Fields, Rochdale-born singer and star of the music hall, she made her stage debut at the age of 10. ‘Our Gracie’s’ long career spanned radio, records, television and films like Sally in our Alley (1931).
10 Jan. 1903 Dame Barbara Hepworth. Originally from the Leeds School of Art she went on to become one of the foremost non-figurative sculptors of her time, noted for her distinctive abstract style in wood, metal and stone.
11 Jan. 1857 Fred Archer, England’s first sporting hero, champion jockey and five times winner of the Derby, committed suicide at the age of 29 whilst suffering from typhoid fever.
12 Jan. 1893 Hermann Goering, German Nazi leader and commander of the German Air Force during World War II, as such was responsible for redesigning many of England’s major cities like Coventry.
13 Jan. 1926 Michael Bond, Newbury-born BBC cameraman, better known as the creator of a little bear found at Paddington Station in London, wearing a sou’wester, wellington boots and a duffle coat – Paddington Bear.
14 Jan. 1904 Sir Cecil Beaton, photographer and stage and film-set designer, originally found fame with his society photographs inVanity Fair and Vogue. His later film work included My Fair Lady and Gigi.
15 Jan. 1929 Martin Luther King, American clergyman, leading civil-rights campaigner and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
16 Jan. 1894 Lord Thomson of Fleet, born in Toronto. The son of a Scottish barber, he moved to Edinburgh when he purchased his first British newspaper The Scotsman, and later acquired The Times and Sunday Times.
17 Jan. 1863 David Lloyd George, Welsh Liberal politician and Prime Minister of Britain 1916-1922. As Chancellor of the Exchequer he introduced old age pensions, health and unemployment insurance, and doubled income tax to pay for it all.
18 Jan. 1779 Peter Mark Roget. After studying medicine he became physician to Manchester Infirmary, in his retirement he devoted his time to his best remembered project Roget’s Thesaurus, an indispensable tool for writers.
19 Jan. 1736 James Watt, Scottish engineer and inventor, whose improvements to Newcomen’s steam-engine helped to power the factories of his partner Mathew Boulton, and ultimately the industrial revolution.
20 Jan. 1763 Theobald Wolfe Tone, a leading Irish (Protestant) nationalist who twice persuaded the French to invade Ireland, he was captured and condemned to death by a British military court, but slit his own throat in prison.
21 Jan. 1924 Benny Hill, Southampton-born comedian who found national and international fame with the saucy The Benny Hill Show (1955-89), and rock & roll fame with ‘Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)’ in 1971.
22 Jan. 1561 Sir Francis Bacon, politician, philosopher and scientist. Hiis career as a statesman under Elizabeth and James I ended when, as Lord Chancellor, he confessed to bribe-taking and spent four days in the Tower.
23 Jan. 1899 Alfred Denning (of Whitchurch), high court judge, former Master of the Rolls and outspoken defender of individual liberties. He conducted the inquiry into the John Profumo affair, 1963 (see 30 January).
24 Jan. AD76 Hadrian. Perhaps the most intellectual and cultivated of all Roman emperors, he visited Britain c A.D. 121 and built a 73 mile protective wall (Hadrian’s Wall) from the Solway Firth to the Tyne to keep out the Scots.
25 Jan. 1759 Robert Burns, the bard of Scotland. Also known as ‘the ploughman’s poet’, he is the object of celebratory Burns Suppers held annually throughout the world on this day.
26 Jan. 1880 Douglas MacArthur, US general and Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the Pacific during World War II. He accepted the surrender of Japan on board the Missouri.
27 Jan. 1832 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Cheshire-born mathematician and children’s writer who, under the name of Lewis Carroll, wrote Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.
28 Jan. 1841 Sir Henry Morton Stanley, born John Rowlands in Denbigh, he went to sea as a cabin boy, arriving in New Orleans. As a news correspondent for the New York Herald, he was commissioned to find the missing Dr Livingstone, and did so in 1871 at Ujiji in Tanganyika.
29 Jan. 1737 Thomas Paine. The son of a Norfolk Quaker smallholder, he emigrated to Philadelphia where he settled as a radical political journalist, famed for his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech in pre-revolutionary America.
30 Jan. 1915 John Profumo, Conservative cabinet minister who resigned following the “Profumo Affair”, which involved his ‘friendship’ with Christine Keeler, and hers with a Russian naval attaché. The scandal caused the ultimate downfall of the MacMillan government..
31 Jan. 1893 Dame Freya Stark. After overseas service in both World Wars, she continued to travel extensively, writing more than 30 books on the subject including Traveller’s Prelude and The Journey’s Echo.

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