Victorian Inventors & Inventions

Queen Victoria’s reign began in 1837 and ended with her death in 1901. This period is often described as an age of rapid change, and many breakthroughs were achieved in terms of scientific thought and industrial innovation and design.

Here is a list of some of the inventions that were developed during the Victorian period (both in the UK and overseas) and the inventors behind them.

1837 – The telegraph was invented by Samuel Morse, and the postage stamp was invented by Rowland Hill.

1838 – Samuel Morse invented Morse Code.

1839 – The process of rubber vulcanization was invented by Charles Goodyear, the first pedal bicycle was produced by Kirkpatrick Macmillan, and the first paddle steamship was made by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

1841 – The stapler is invented by Samuel Slocum.

1842 – The first grain elevator is constructed by Joseph Dart.

1843 – The first Christmas card was designed by John Calcott Horsely.

1845 – Elias Howe invented a type of sewing machine.

1849 – The safety pin is invented by Walter Hunt, and modern concrete was developed by Monier.

1851 – Isaac Singer invents a type of sewing machine.

1852 – The gyroscope is invented by Jean Bernard Leon Foucault.

1856 – Louis Pasteur invents the process of pasteurisation.

1858 – The internal combustion engine is invented by Jean Lenoir.

1861 – The Yale lock is invented by Linus Yale.

1862 – The machine gun is invented by Richard Gatling, and the first man-made plastic is produced by Alexander Parkes.

1864 – Jelly Babies are invented by Herr Steinbeck.

1866 – Dynamite is invented by Alfred Nobel, and Robert Whitehead invents the torpedo.

1868 – Air brakes are developed by George Westinghouse, and J. P. Knight invents the traffic light.

1873 – Barbed wire is invented by Joseph Glidden.

1876 – The telephone is patented by Alexander Graham Bell.

1875 – First chocolate Easter eggs were manufactured by Fry’s in Bristol.

1877 – The world’s first recording of the human voice is made by Thomas Edison.

1880 – A form of toilet paper is manufactured by the British Perforated Paper Company, and the seismograph is invented by John Milne.

1881 – Roll film for cameras is patented by David Houston.

1884 – The mechanical cash register is invented by James Ritty, and a useable fountain pen is invented by Lewis Edson Waterman.

1885 – The first practical internal-combustion engine powered car is developed by Karl Benz.

1886 – The dishwasher is invented by Josephine Cochrane, and Coca-Cola is invented by John Pemberton.

1887 – Radar is invented by Heinrich Hertz, the gramophone is invented by Emile Berliner, and the first wearable contact lenses are developed by Muller & Fick.

1888 – The first pneumatic tyre is patented by John Boyd Dunlop, and the AC motor and transformer are invented by Nikola Tesla.

1891 – The escalator is invented by Jesse W. Reno.

1892 – The diesel-fueled combustion engine is invented by Rudolf Diesel.

1895 – The first wireless is launched by Guglielmo Marconi.

1888 – George Eastman invents the Kodak box camera.

1898 – The rollercoaster is invented by Edwin Prescott.

1899 – A motor-powered vacuum cleaner is patented by J. S. Thurman.

Hyde Park Facts

Located in Westminster in Greater London, Hyde Park is the largest of London’s Royal Parks that form a line from the entrance to Kensington Palace to past the main entrance of Buckingham Palace.

Facts About Hyde Park

  • Hyde Park is a public park and it has an area of approximately 350 acres.
  • The park was founded by Henry VIII in 1536. He took the land from Westminster Abbey and established a hunting ground.
  • The park was opened to public in 1637 and it was often used as a place to celebrate May Day.
  • During the English Civil War a series of forts were constructed along the park’s east side, and in 1665, during London’s Great Plague it was used as a miitary camp.
  • During the 18th century more than 170 duels took place in Hyde Park, and more than 60 people were killed, including Charles Mohun and James Hamilton.
  • Hyde Park’s lake, the Serpentine, was formed in the 18th century by damming the River Westbourne. A bridge (designed by George Rennie and built in 1826) divides the Serpentine from the Long Water (a lake located in Kensington Gardens).
The Serpentine
  • The Great Exhibition of 1851 was held at Hyde Park. The Crystal Palace was located on the park’s south side, but it was moved after the event to Sydenham Hill in South London.
  • Hyde Park Lido, located on the Serpentine’s south bank, opened in 1930.
  • In 2012, Hyde Park hosted a festival as part of the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.
  • The Winter Wonderland event at Hyde Park has been running since 2007, ad includes fairground rides, Christmas market stalls, and bars and restaurants. It is one of Europe’s largest Chrstmas events.
  • Although it is claimed by some that the massive Standing Stone located to the east of Hyde Park was taken from Stonehenge by Charles I, it is actually part of an old drinking fountain.
  • In 2003, it is reported that more than 1 million people gathered in Hyde Park to protest the Iraq War.
  • Hyde Park’s first rock concert was held in 1968. Pink Floyd, Roy Harper, and Jethro Tull played to a crowd of 15,000 people.
  • Since then, numerous bands and srtists have performed at Hyde Park, including The Rolling Stones, Queen, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Elton John, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, R.E.M., and U2.
  • During the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Hyde Park hosted the triathlon, and the open water swimming events.

Learn more about London and some of the city’s greatest landmarks.

Trafalgar Square Facts

A public square located in the City of Westminster in Central London, Trafalgar Square was constructed in the early part of the 19th century. Nelson’s Column, a 46-metre granite column topped with a statue of Admiral Nelson, is located in the middle of Trafalgar Square to commemorate the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805).

Facts About Trafalgar Square

  • Formerly known as Charing Cross, Trafalgar Square has been a significant London landmark for centuries. It once was the site of the enclosed King’s Mews courtyard, but this was moved to Buckingham Palace by George IV.
  • Trafalgar Square is owned by the British monarch and it is managed by the Greater London Authority. The roads surrounding Trafalgar Square are owned by Westminster City Council.
  • The fountains flanking Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and the four lions guarding the column were designed by Sir Edwin Landseer and are made out of bronze. Each one weighs more than 7 tons.
  • Many famous London landmarks and buildings surround Trafalgar Square, including the National Gallery, St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, South Africa House, Canada House, and The Mall which leads to Admiralty Arch and Buckingham Palace.
  • In 1914, as part of the suffragette bombing campaign, a bomb was placed in St Martin-in-the-Fields church. The explosion blew out the church’s windows and started a fire.
  • Three of the four Trafalgar Square plinths contain statues (of George IV, Sir Charles James Napier, and Sir Henry Havelock). The so-called ‘Fourth Plinth’ has remained statueless and has been used to show specially commissioned works of art.
  • Some of the artists who have had their work displayed on the Fourth Plinth include Marc Quinn, Antony Gormley, Yinka Shonibare, Katharina Fritsch, Hans Haacke, David Shrigley, and Michael Rakowitz.
  • The statue of Edward Jenner which was located in Trafalgar Square in the 1800s has been relocated to Kensington Gardens.
  • Trafalgar Square used to be famous for its flocks of pigeons. People used to be encouraged to feed the birds, and at one point it was estimated that there were 35,000 pigeons visiting the site. In 2001, the sale of bird seed in the square was outlawed, and in 2003 it was illegal to feed the birds in Trafalgar Square.
  • Traditionally, Londoners would congregate in Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the coming of the new year.
  • Since 1947, a ceremony has been held in Trafalgar Square to unveil a Norway spruce Christmas tree presented annually to London from Oslo in Norway in recognition of the support Britain provided to Norway in World War 2.
  • Throughout history, Trafalgar Square has been the site of protests and demonstrations. In the 1980s, anti-apartheid protests took place outside South Africa House, in the 1990s, Poll Tax protesters congregated in Trafalgar Square, and in 2015 a vigil was held for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
  • Trafalgar Square has appeared in numerous TV shows and movies, including Casino Royale, Doctor Who, and the Ipcress Files.
  • A LEGO set based on Trafalgar Square was released in 2019 as part of its Architecture theme (Set 21045).
  • Trafalgar Square features as one of the properties in the standard UK edition of the Monopoly board game. It is part of the red set, alongside the Strand and Fleet Street.
  • Trafalgar Square appears (as Victory Square) in the novel Nineteen-Eighty-Four by George Orwell.
  • Trafalgar Square was designed by Sir Charles Barry, and was constructed in the 1840s.

Learn about some more of London’s landmarks.

Zaha Hadid Facts

Zaha Hadid was a famous architect, artist, and designer. She was sometimes called ‘The Queen of the Curve’ because her futuristic building designs often incorporated curved facades.

Disclaimer: This post includes Amazon product images that include affiliate links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, Primary Facts earns from qualifying purchases.

Facts About Zaha Hadid

  • Zaha Hadid was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1950.
  • Her father was an industrialist, and Zaha attended boarding schools in England and Switzerland.
  • She studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut and went on to study architecture in 1972 in London at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, graduating in 1977.
  • She became a citizen of the UK, and she opened an architectural firm (Zaha Hadid Architects) in London in 1980.
  • Zaha taught architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge University, the University of Chicago, and Columbia University. She was also a guest professor at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.
  • She died in 2016 of a heart attack while undergoing treatment for bronchitis. She was 65 years old. She is buried in Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey, UK.

Your success will not be determined by your gender or your ethniity, but only on the scope of your dreams and your hard work to achieve them.

Zaha Hadid
  • She designed numerous buildings during her career, including the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, the Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg, the BMW Factory Administrative Building in Leipzig, the Bridge Pavillion in Zaragoza, the Guangzhou Opera House, the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, the Broad Art Museum in East Lansing, the Galaxy SOGO in Beijing, the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, the Vienna Univerity of Economics and Business Library and Learning Center, and the Port Authority Building in Antwerp.
  • Her design for the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games Aquatics Centre was inspired by the geometry of moving water. The project cost more than £250 million to complete and the building houses three swimming pools and more than 17,000 seats.
  • Several projects she worked on were completed after her death, including Miami’s Scorpion Tower, Beijing’s Daxing International Airport, and the Salerno Maritime Terminal in Italy.

Her soaring structures left a mark on skylines and imaginations and in the process re-shaped architecture for the modern age.

Michael Kimmelman on Zaha Hadid (2016)
  • In 2004, Zaha Hadid became the first female architect to receive the Pritzker Architecture Award.
  • In 2012, she was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II for services to architecture.

The idea is not to have any 90-degree angles.

Zaha Hadid describing her approach to architecture
  • By the time of her death, she had amassed a personal fortune of more than £70 million.
  • She is often cited as the greatest female architect.
  • She was an admirer of the architect Oscar Niemeyer’s spatial sensibility, and she was also influenced by the design of The Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • She was a big fan of clothes designed by Issey Miyake.

1980s Action Figures

Action figures were incredibly popular toys in the 1980s. Most of action figures produced and sold during the 1980s ended-up in the hands of children, and they were removed from their packaging and played with. The concept of collecting figures and keeping them unopened in mint condition was not popular in the 1980s, and, unlike today, hardly any adults collected action figures or toys in any form.

Many hundreds of millions of action figures were sold in the 1980s, and here are just some of the most popular ones.

Star Wars Action Figures

Although US company Kenner manufactured the first Star Wars action figures in the late 1970s, they remained an incredibly popular line of toys throughout the the first half of the 1980s. With the release of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, and the Return of the Jedi in 1983, Kenner produced approximately 300 million Star Wars figures to satisfy the demand of the children of the 80s.

Kenner did manufacturer larger Star Wars figures, but it was the 3.75″ size ones that were the most popular, and vehicles and playsets were also sold so that children could recreate scenes from the Star Wars movies.

Vintage Star Wars action figures
Vintage Star Wars Action Figures

The popularity of Star Wars waned during the late 1980s, and demand for Star Wars action figures declined. As a result, Kenner stopped making their classic Star Wars figures in 1985. And, although they did start to make Star Wars toys again in the mid-1990s, the last wave of figures produced in the 1980s are some of the most sought after by modern-day collectors.

Known as the Last 17, these final figures included the Ewoks Lumat, Paploo, Romba and Warok, Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper Disguise, A-Wing Pilot, and Anakin Skywalker.

Kenner’s 1980s Star Wars figures feature as props in one scene of the 1982 film ET.

Kenner also produced Star Wars action figures to tie-in with the animated series Star Wars: Droids, and Star Wars: Ewoks.

Masters of the Universe Action Figures

Mattel’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 5.5″ action figures first appeared on the shelves in 1981. The first wave of characters included He-Man, Skeletor, and Beast Man.

Mattel continued to produce Masters of the Universe action figures until the late 1980s. Approximately 70 different figures were made along with numerous vehicles, beasts and playsets.

The popularity of the Masters of the Universe action figures led to the release of the classic He-Man and the Masters of the Universe animated series.

M.A.S.K. Action Figures

M.A.S.K. stood for Mobile Armored Strike Kommand. Developed by Kenner, the franchise was based around the conflict between M.A.S.K. and the villanous V.E.N.O.M. organization.

The Kenner M.A.S.K. action figures and vehicles were first released in 1985 (the same year as the launch of the animated series), and continued to come out until 1988.

All of the vehicles could change form into a combat-ready mode, and all of the action figures came with masks.

A-Team Action Figures

Galoob produced two A-Team action figure toy lines (one 3.75″ and 6″) to tie in with the weekly 1980s live-action TV series the A-Team.

The 3.75″ figures came in four-packs, while the larger figures were sold individually. The most popular four-pack was the one featuring the TV show’s maian charcaters – Hannibal, B.A., Murdock, and Face.

Another popular set was the A-Team Van packaged with a B.A. Baracus figure.


The Transformers franchise was developed Takara (a Japanese company) from its Diaclone and Micro Change toy lines.

The first US and UK Transformers toys (transforming action figures that could be converted from a vehicle form into a robot mode and then back again) were released by Hasbro in 1984. Transformers action figures have been produced ever since, and they remain a popular toy to this day.

Popular Transformers figures include Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee, Soundwave, and Cliffjumper.

The Transformers toy line inspired numerous animated TV shows and movies, and a series of live-action movies.


GoBots were another line of transforming figures. Manufactured by Tonka from 1983 to 1987, they competed for sales with the Transformers toys.

Divided into Guardians (good guys) and Renegades (bad guys), the figures were very popular for a number of years in the 1980s.

A cartoon series called Challenge of the GoBots ran from 1984 to 1985, and in 1986 an animated film called GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords was released.

In the early 1990s, Hasbro purchased the GoBots toy line from Tonka and they began to incorporate GoBots into the Transformers universe.

Battle Beasts

Created by Takara and distributed by Hasbro from 1986, Battle Beasts were 2″ action figures with heat-sensitive signs on their chests that revealed a symbol when rubbed.

More than 70 Battle Beasts were released in the US and the UK, often sold in packs of two figures.

The chest symbols were fire, wood, or water, but you had to purchase the figures to discover which symbols they had been given.

ThunderCats Action Figures

Launched to tie-in with the animated ThunderCats animated TV series, ThunderCats action figures hit the shelves in 1985. Produced by LJN and measuring about 6″ in height, the ThunderCats action figures line featured al of the charcaters from the TV show (including the heroes Lion-O, Tygra, Panthro, and Cheetara).

LJN stopped making the original ThunderCats figures in 1987, athough several figures and vehicles were advertised in an LJN toy catalogue but were never released to toy stores.

G.I Joe / Action Force Figures

The first 3.75″ G.I. Joe action figures were released in the US by Hasbro in 1982 along with a comic book and an animated TV series.

Featuring soldiers and warriors, the toy line proved to be incredibly popular until the early 1990s.

Palitoy produced a similar type of figure called Action Force. Designed for European markets, the Action Force range was later purchased by Hasbro, and from 1985 they started to combine the G.I. Joe and Action Force toy lines and franchises.

Albrecht Durer Facts

Albrecht Durer was a painter and printmaker from Germany. He was active during the German Renaissance and produced engravings, prints, paintings, and books.

Facts About Albrecht Durer

  • Albrecht Durer was born in 1471in Nuremberg (now in Germany, then a free city in the Holy Roman Empire).
  • His parents had 18 children, but only Albrecht and two of his siblings survived into adulthood.
  • His father was a goldsmith, and one of his older brothers, Hans Durer was a painter, and he trained Albrecht. He went on to become the apprentice of Michael Wolgemut (Nuremberg’s leading artist at the time) at the age of fifteen.
  • His 1484 Self-Portrait was completed when he was thirteen years old.
  • During the early-1490s, Durer traveled around Europe spending time in the cities of Frankfurt, Strasbourg, and Basel.

Sight is the noblest sense of man.

Albrecht Durer
  • From 1494 to 1495, Albrecht Durr spent time in Venice. He was inspired by the work of Giovani Bellini, Antonio del Pollaiuolo, Lorenzo di Credi, and Andrea Mantegna. After setting up his own workshop in Nuremberg, he returned to Italy, staying there from 1505 to 1507.
  • He was in regular contact with many of Europe’s most talented artists, including Raphael, Giovanni Bellini, and Leonardo da Vinci.
Adoration of the Magi – Albrecht Durer
  • Maximilian I (leader of the Holy Roman Empire) became Albrecht Durer’s key patron from 1512.
  • Three Durer engravings produced in 1513 and 1514 (Knight, Death and the Devil (1513), Saint Jerome in his Study (1514) and Melencolia I (1514) are known as his master prints.
  • In addition to his works of art, Albrecht Durer also produced books, including Four Books on Human Proportion, Four Books on Measurement, and Various Lessons for the Fortification of Cities, Castles and Localities.
  • Some of his famous paintings included Adam and Eve (1507), The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand (1508), Lot and His Daughters (1496-1499), and the Feast of the Rose Garlands.
  • He painted both with oil paints and with watercolours. Some of his works using watercolours included Innsbruck Castle Courtyard, Young Hare, and Tuft of Cowslips.
Albrecht Durer

If a man devotes himself to art, much evil is avoided that happens otherwise if one is idle.

Albrecht Durer
  • He was friends with the astronomer Johannes Stabius, and they collaborated on a spherical world map project.
  • He often signed his artworks with a monogram (featuring a stylized A with a smaller D).
  • One of Albrecht Durer’s most famous works is his woodcut titled The Rhinoceros, produced in 1515.

The artist is chosen by God to fulfill his commands and must never be overwhelmed by public opinion.

Albrecht Durer
  • Albrecht Durer died in Nuremberg in 1528 at the age of 56.
  • Albrecht Durer’s house in Nuremberg, built in 1420, is now a museum, and it features a re-creation of Durer’s workshop.

Christmas in Portugal: Facts About Portuguese Christmas Traditions

According to numbers published by the Pew Research Center in 2021, more than 75% of the population of Portugal identifies as Roman Catholic. As a result, Christmas is celebrated throughout Portugal, and many Portuguese Christmas traditions have developed over the years.

Christmas Presents in Portugal

  • Santa or Father Christmas is known as Pai Natal in Portugal, and unlike in the UK and the US, he is said to bring children presents to be opened on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. Pai Natal leaves Christmas gifts under the Christmas tree or in shoes placed by the fireplace.
  • Some people in Portugal say that Christmas presents are brought by the Baby Jesus and not Pai Natal (Father Christmas).

Traditional Christmas Food in Portugal

  • The traditional Christmas meal in Portugal is called Consoada. It is eaten by families on Christmas Eve, and it includes cod (bacalhau), green vegetables, boiled potatoes, and boiled eggs.
  • Sometimes this meal is accompanied by octopus and shellfish. In some Portuguese households, turkey is eaten during the Christmas period.
  • Popular Portuguese Christmas desserts include Lampreia de ovos (an egg-based dessert served in the shape of a fish), rice pudding, and Filhos (dough balls flavored and decorated with fruit).
  • The traditional Christmas cake of Portugal is known as Bolo Rei (King Cake). A gift and a broad bean are often hidden in the middle of the cake. The finder of the gift is allowed to keep it, but the finder of the broad bean must either make or pay for next year’s Bolo Rei.
  • Portuguese families eat Portuguese biscuits (azevias) and sweets (felhozes) around Christmas, and the adults drink port, wine, and ginjinha (an alcoholic drink made from sour cherries). Sweet oval-shaped biscuits called broas de natal are also popular. These are made from sweet potatoes, almonds, and sugar.
  • At Christmas time, many Portugeuse tables are decorated with azevinho (holly).

Portuguese Christmas Church Services

  • After their Christmas Eve meal, many Portuguese families attend the midnight Missa do Galo (Mass of the Rooster) service at their local church. During the service, an image of the baby Jesus is presented and placed in the church’s nativity scene. Once the service has concluded, people return home to open their presents.
  • Many families have two present opening sessions, one directly after the Missa do Galo service, and another one on Christmas Day.

Christmas Decorations in Portugal

  • The Christmas nativity scene (Presepio) is an incredibly important part of a Portuguese Christmas. Some family nativity decoration sets include dozens of figures and animals, and they are added to by using moss and other natural elements to add detail to the scene.
  • In some households, presents are not to be opened until the baby Jesus figure has been placed into the nativity scene.
  • Many shops incorporate nativity scenes into their window displays, and local communities install giant ones along roadsides and on roundabouts. Live nativity scenes are also common, and they are a key part of the Christmas celebrations in communities all over the country.
  • In 2012, the town of San Paio de Oleiros set a world record for the largest moving nativity scene.
  • Although not a traditional part of Christmas celebrations in Portugal, since the 1970s Christmas trees have become much more commonplace.

Other Christmas Traditions in Portugal

  • In Braga on Christmas Eve people celebrate by eating bananas and drinking glasses of muscatel.
  • Obidos was the home to Portugal’s first Christmas Village, but now more and more towns and villages are hosting their own Christmas markets. In Lisbon, the biggest one is located in Eduardo VII.
  • In some parts of Portugal such as Guarda and Castelo Branco, large outdoor communal fires are lit on Christmas Eve, giving the community a chance to get together and wish each other a happy Christmas.
  • It is claimed that the Christmas tree in the city of Viana do Castelo is the largest one in Europe.
  • Christmas celebrations officially end in Portugal on 6th January.

Frank Whittle: Facts About the Inventor of the Jet Engine

Frank Whittle was an officer in the Royal Air Force, an engineer, and an inventor. He is best known for inventing the turbojet engine.

Disclaimer: This post includes Amazon product images that include affiliate links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, Primary Facts earns from qualifying purchases.

Facts About Frank Whittle

  • Frank Whittle was born in Coventry in 1907. His family moved to Royal Leamington Spa when he was nine years old, and his father ran the Leamington Valve and Piston Ring Company.
  • Frank Whittle learned to use all of the tools at his father’s workplace, and he became very knowledgeable about the company’s single-cylinder gas engine.
  • He attended Milverton School and Leamington College for Boys, and he was an avid reader, spending much of his free time in the library learning about engineering, turbines, aviation, and the theory of flight.
  • When he was fifteen years old, he decided to become a pilot and he completed an application to join the RAF.
  • In 1923, Frank Whittle passed the RAF entrance examination and reported to RAF Halton (Buckinghamshire) to start as an Aircraft Apprentice. Unfortunately, due to his small stature (he was only 5′ 2″ tall) and narrow frame, he failed the medical assessment.
  • Undeterred, Frank Whittle focused on improving his physique and applied to the RAF again using a different name. This time he was accepted, and in September 1923 he began the three-year training to become an aircraft mechanic.
  • During his time in RAF training, Frank Whittle joined the Model Aircraft Society. He built several high-quality working replicas of planes, and these were noticed by one of his commanding officers. This, combined with the fact that Frank Whittle was an exceptional mathematician, resulted in Frank Whittle being put forward for officer training at RAF College Cranwell.
  • Part of the training at Cranwell involved flying an Avro 504 biplane, and after just 13.5 hours of tuition, Frank Whittle flew solo for the first time. He soon moved on to fly Bristol Fighters and became known for his skillful flying maneuvers.
  • Frank Whittle graduated in 1928 (ranking second in his class for academics) and was commissioned as a pilot officer at the age of just 21.
  • While at Cranwell, he wrote a thesis called Future Developments in Aircraft Design. He discussed using motorjets and argued for the benefits of flying at high altitudes.
  • In 1928, he joined No 111 Squadron based at Hornchurch, and he soon went on to become a flying instructor at the Central Flying School at Wittering.
  • In 1930, Whittle patented his idea to use turbine engines instead of piston engines to make his motorjet principles a reality. He previously shared his ideas with the RAF, but their top engineers had decided that Whittle’s concepts would be impracticable.
  • In 1931, Frank Whittle was posted to the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment at Felixstowe, Suffolk. As part of his work, he piloted more than twenty different types of seaplanes and flying boats.
  • He attended Peterhouse College, Cambridge in 1934, and graduated two years later with a degree in Mechanical Sciences.
  • In 1936, Frank Whittle signed an agreement with OT Falk, the Air Ministry, Rolf Dudley-Williams, and James Collingwood Tinling to form a company called Power Jets Ltd.
  • Power Jets worked with British Thomson Houston (a steam turbine company) to manufacture the first prototype jet engine design.
  • At the same time as the Power Jets prototype was being made, a German group of engineers was working on their own jet engine design. With the support of the German Ministry of Aviation, their efforts made it into the air first. But the German engines continually overheated and would only last a maximum of 25 hours before burning out. It is estimated that more than 200 pilots lost their lives during training in Messerschmitt Me 262s powered by the Junkers Jumo 004 turbojet engine, but these planes proved to be very effective late on in World War 2, shooting down more than 500 Allied planes.
  • Whittle worked increasingly hard to turn his ideas of an efficient and reliable working jet engine into a reality. He frequently worked 16-hour days, and he suffered from headaches and heart palpitations.
  • In 1939, Frank Whittle finally managed to convince the Air Ministry to invest more heavily in his design. After proving that the technology was sustainable, the Air Ministry purchased the Power Jets company, and Frank Whittle was made Chief Technical Advisor. He received a payment of £10,000 (a much lower sum than the value of the shares he owned in Power Jets). He resigned in 1946.
  • In 1948, he received a payment of £100,000 from the Royal Commission on Awards to recognize the contribution he had made to developing the jet engine. He left the RAF in the same year with the rank of Air Commodore.
  • He worked for Shell in the 1950s, and then he went on to work for Bristol Aero Engines.
  • In 1967, Frank Whittle is inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame.
  • In the 1960s, he became good friends with one of the leading German engineers (part of the group he had competed with when he was prototyping his jet engine), Hans von Ohain.

If you had been given the money you would have been six years ahead of us. If Hitler or Goering had heard that there is a man in England who flies 500 mph in a small experimental plane and that it is coming into development, it is likely that World War II would not have come into being.

Hans von Ohain on Frank Whittle
  • Frank Whittle died in 1996 at his home in Columbia, Maryland, US. He was 89.
  • Frank Whittle has been commemorated in his birthplace of Coventry with the Whittle Arch (located outside the Coventry Transport Museum), and a statue created by Faith Winter. There is also a Sir Frank Whittle Primary School and the Frank Whittle building at Coventry University.
  • Frank Whittle was knighted in 1948.

What is the difference between serial fiction and episodic fiction?

What is serial fiction?

Serial fiction or serialized fiction is a fictional work delivered to readers in installments that cannot be fully understood and enjoyed individually. Although each installment might well be structured to have a beginning, middle, and end, the author will refer back to characters and events from previous installments, and the main storyline will not be concluded until the end of the final installment.

When reading serial fiction, readers should start with the first installment of the story, as it will be hard to pick up the plot mid-way through. Cliffhanger endings are commonplace in serialized fiction as they are a good way of grabbing the reader’s attention and drawing them from one installment to the next.

Examples of serialized stories

Some of the best examples of serial fiction are the serialized novels of the 1800s and early-1900s. Written specifically to be released in installments, works like The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas were published installment by installment in newspapers and journals.

If a reader missed the first few installments, it would be hard for them to fully understand the story if they didn’t go back and read the beginning before reading the current installment.

More modern examples of serial fiction include the hundreds of ongoing works of fiction on sites such as Wattpad, Royal Road, and Web Novel.

What is episodic fiction?

Although the episodes that make up a work of episodic fiction may be linked by theme, or share the same characters, they can usually be enjoyed individually, without the reader needing to have consumed all of the episodes preceding the one they are currently reading.

Episodic fiction may well have some form of over-arching plot to link the episodes, but each of the episodes will be a satisfying story in their own right. Cliffhanger endings are rare in true episodic fiction, as they dictate that the episodes must be read in order.

Examples of episodic fiction

Some of the best examples of episodic fiction are the individual novels in a detective or romance series. These books can be read in order, and there is often an-going storyline, and limited development of the main charcater from book-to-book, but they can also be enjoyed out of sequence as standalone stories.

Some TV shows are episodic. Episodes of Friends, for example, can be watched out of order, and although there are a few storylines that extend beyond a single episode, a full understanding of what has gone before isn’t necessary to watch and enjoy any of the individual episodes.

Alma Thomas Facts

Alma Thomas was an African-American artist and teacher who is now recognised as an important artist of the 20th century.

Facts About Alma Thomas

  • Alma Thomas was born Alma Woodsey Thomas in 1891 in Columbus, Georgia, US.
  • She had three older siblings, her father was a businessman, and her mother was a dress designer.
  • As a child, Alma Thomas enjoyed making puppets, and sculptures, and she handcrafted plates using clay collected from a river close to the family home.
  • Her mother played the violin, and she taught Alma Thomas how to play.
  • In 1907 her family relocated to Logan Circle, Washington DC, in order to escape the racial violence occurring in Georgia. The US capital was segregated at the time, but it was more welcoming to African-American families than many other US cities at the time.
  • Alma Thomas attended Armstrong Technical High School. She was a good student and particularly liked science and architecture lessons.
  • She graduated in 1911, and she went on the study Kindergarten Education at Miner Normal School (now called the University of the District of Columbia). She qualified as a teacher in 1913.
  • In 1915, she got a job as a kindergarten teacher at the Thomas Garrett Settlement House in Wilmington, Delaware. She remained in this post until 1921.
  • At the age of 30, Alma Thomas enrolled at Howard University in 1921. Initially, she took classes in home economics with a view to specializing in costume design, but she soon transferred onto the Fine Art course, studying under James V. Herring.
  • She graduated in 1924, and she began teaching at Shaw Junior High School. A school for black pupils in the then-segregated Washington DC.
  • Alma Thomas worked at Shaw Junior High School for 35 years, occupying the same classroom. Artist Malkia Roberts was also a member of the school’s art department.
  • During the school’s summer breaks, Alma Thomas would travel to New York to visit art museums and galleries.
  • In 1943, James W, Herring (one of her former professors) and Alma Thomas opened the Barnett-Aden Gallery in Washington DC.
  • Alma Thomas studied at the American University in 1950. During this period, her painting style evolved from figurative, to cubist, to abstract expressionist.
  • Alma Thomas did not become a professional painter until she was in her late-sixties after she had retired from her teaching career.
  • Her post-retirement work is often compared to the work of Vasily Kandinsky because of how they both approached the use of colour.

The use of color in my paintings is of paramount importance to me. Through color I have sought to concentrate on beauty and happiness in my painting rather than on man’s inhumanity to man.

Alma Thomas
  • Her 1963 work titled Watusi (Hard Edge) was based on Henri Matisse‘s Snail. Alma Thomas changed the colours, and rearranged the elements to produce a new work.
  • She was friends with the opera singer Lillian Evans, and together they participated in 1963’s March on Washington. Alma Thomas produced a painting of the event in 1964.
  • Alma Thomas’ art style evolved again in the late 1960s. She began to create works that featured small rectangular shapes of intense colour.
  • At the age of 81 years old, Alma Thomas had a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
  • Alma Thomas never married. She shared the family house (now known as the Alma Thomas House and listed on the National Register of Historic Places) with her sister John Maurice Thomas (named for their father).
  • The paintings Alma Thomas produced in the latter stages of her life have been compared to the pointillist work of Georges-Pierre Seurat.
  • Alma Thomas died in 1978.

The degree of beauty in a picture depends upon the feeling for beauty in the artist and his power to express it.

Alma Thomas
  • In 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama selected Alma Thomas’ Watusi (Hard Edge) to be one of the pieces to be exhibited in the White House. Her 1973 Sky Light painting was displayed in the Obama’s private living quarters.
  • In 2021, her painting Alma’s Flower Garden sold for $2.8 million. A Fantastic Sunset sold in 2019 for $2.6 million.
  • Some of her other most well-known works include Air View of a Spring Nursery (1966), Milky Way (1969), The Eclipse (1970), Red Rose Sonata (1972), and Breeze Rustling Through Fall Flowers (1968).
  • Alma Thomas’s work was inspired by the work of other Washington DC-based Colour Field painters, such as Gene Davis, Kenneth Noland, and Morris Louis.