Category Archives: People

That Time 26-Year-Old Edgar Allan Poe Married His 13-Year-Old Cousin

VirginiaValentine

As if his stories weren’t occasionally disturbing enough, it turns out Edgar Allan Poe’s love life was more than a little creepy as well. Creepy Courtship Poe met his bride-to-be, Virginia Clemm, when she was 7 years old, and he was 20, shortly after his mother’s death in 1829. Their parents, his natural father (David Poe) and her mother (Maria […]

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Who is Murphy of Murphy’s Law?

StappSled

Bill D. asks: Who is the “Murphy” who made Murphy’s Law? For those not familiar, Murphy’s Law states: “Anything that can go wrong will.” Early Origins Pessimists have existed long before the Murphy whose name today graces this fundamental law. One of the earliest instances of this “law” being stated explicitly happened in 1877 where Alfred Holt is believed to […]

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Was Colonel Sanders Actually a Colonel?

colonel sanders

Rachel M. asks: Was Colonel Sanders really a Colonel? Kentucky Colonel is the highest honor that can be bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. (Incidentally, if you’re curious: Why Colonel is Pronounced “Kernel”) To be named a “Colonel” is to be recognized for “outstanding service to community, state, and nation.” The sitting governor of Kentucky, or the Secretary of State […]

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The Curious Case of Mary Hamilton

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In 1746 in Taunton, Somerset, England, Mary Hamilton was imprisoned and whipped for impersonating a man and marrying possibly as many as 14 women (not all at once). Few records of these events have survived; however, that same year Henry Fielding, “barrister, magistrate, founder of the first English detective force, and sometimes called father of the modern novel,” produced a […]

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The Unmasking of Moriarty

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Jill T. asks: My dad told me Professor Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes was based on a real person. Is this true and if so, who? Genius and philosopher, with a “brain of the first order,” Professor James Moriarty was the most dangerous criminal Sherlock Holmes ever grappled with. Over the years, several real-life masterminds have been suggested as the inspiration […]

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The Man Who Parkinson’s Disease is Named After Was Implicated in a Plot to Assassinate King George III

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Today I found out they named Parkinson’s disease after a man who was involved in an assassination attempt on King George III. Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder characterized by tremors or shaking, with this particular symptom of the progressive disease resulting from dopamine generating cell death in a part of the substantia nigra region of the brain . The […]

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Whatever Happened to Ambrose Bierce?

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Witty, prickly, bitter and brilliant, for 50 odd years, author and newspaperman Ambrose Bierce eloquently chronicled the latter half of the 19th, and first few years of the 20th, centuries. From moving descriptions of Civil War events, to scathing rebukes of the worst of the Gilded Age, all interspersed with tales of the supernatural, Bierce’s unique voice has left us […]

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