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Interesting Personality

 

William Blake

 

    William Blake, English poet, painter and printer, was born on November 28, 1757.

    You may have read his poems - about the lamb, the tiger, or his sad song about the poor chimney sweep.

    The strange thing is that in his own time many people thought him mad. Almost a century passed after his death in 1827 before he began to be recognised as a truly great poet and artist.

    His family background was obscure. We don't even know his mother's name. But he showed a talent for drawing early and at 14 he became apprentice to an engraver. When he was 21 he became an engraver on his own account and later married a girl called Catherine who learnt to draw and paint so that she could work together with him.

    When he was young the French Revolution took place and he supported it. Over in England a different sort of change was taking place, which is called "The Industrial Revolution".

Blake was horrified at the way life was being changed, with people young and old obliged to work in "those dark satanic mills".

    He was particularly angered at the way the new factory owners and employers used child labour, and in many of his poems he defends the rights of childhood.

    From the time he was thirty he worked more on his paintings, making coloured lithographs by a method he invented. His pictures are often wild and strange, with very strong dramatic colours. They expressed the very complex ideas in his poems.

    His great message is freedom for each person to develop. He hated slavery, black slavery on the plantations. white slavery in the factories.

 

***

Edison

 

    Edison is known as one of the greatest inventors of his time. He invented so much that it is difficult to say which of his achievements is the greatest. He was an experimenter and a practical man more than a theoretician.

    Edison did not have any education. He went to school only for three months. Then he left it because the teacher considered him a dull boy. His mother became his teacher. The boy loved books and his mother said that he had a wonderful memory. When he first visited a public library and saw a lot of shelves with books he decided that he would know everything in the world. He measured the shelf and decided to read a foot of books every week.

    In 1868 Edison built his first patented invention - an electromagnetic device.

    It is said that he planned to ask three thousand dollars for his invention, though he secretly decided he would sell it for two thousand if necessary. He was invited to a meeting of businessmen who were interested in buying his invention, but when he was asked to name the price he was very nervous and quite unable to speak.

    "It is no use asking us a big price", said one of the businessmen, "we have already decided how much we will pay. Forty thousand dollars is our limit".

    With this money Edison established a workshop and began his career as a professional inventor at the age of twenty one.

    All his inventions were the result of hard work. He sometimes made thousands of experiments. According to his words the idea that a genius works only by inspiration was absurd. "Genius is 2 per cent inspiration and 98 per cent perspiration", he often said.

 

***

A Family of Scientists

 

    George Boole was born in 1815; he is famous for his works an the field of mathematical analysis. His wife Mary Everest was a niece of George Everest. He is known as a man who performed topographic survey in India on a large scale in 1841. It is after him that highest peak in the world is named. Mary Everest was very much interested in her husband's work and after his death she published several books which contributed greatly to the development of his theory. The Booles had five daughters, the eldest daughter Mary married C.Hinton who was a well-known mathematician, inventor and author of science-fiction books.

    Their three grandchildren became scientists. Howard was a talented entomologist, William and Joan were both physicists. The latter was almost the only woman-physicist who took part in the work at the atomic project of the USA. Their second daughter Margaret is known as the mother of the outstanding English mathematician Jeffrey Tailor who is a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Their third daughter Alicia was a specialist in the field of multidimensional space. The fourth daughter Lucy was the first woman-professor who was the head of a chemistry department. But the youngest daughter Ethel Lilian is the most famous. She married the Polish scientist and revolutionist Voynich. Her wonderful book 'The Gadfly" is translated into many languages and is popular in many countries of the world.

 

 

QUESTIONS

1. Whom do we call interesting personalities?

2. What facts of their life and activities impress us most of all?

3. Are they hardworking and creative people?

4. What outstanding scientists do you know? What makes you respect them?

5. Who is your favourite writer? What do you know about him?

6. Are political figures interesting personalities?

7. Do interesting people inspire us?

8. Could you recall any episode (any period) in your life when the influence of some interesting personality upon you was especially strong?

9. Would you like to be an interesting personality?

10. Do you hope to be an interesting personality?

11. Do we need such people?


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