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Composers Maps and Documents World Heritage Sites
Explorers and Adventurers Monarchs Writers and Poets

The people included here were either born in Britain, died in Britain,
became British citizens, became Prime Minister of Britain or ascended the British throne.

The Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope and reached India in 1498 establishing the first direct route from Europe to the sub-continent.

Vasco de Gama

Centuries of commercial rivalry between the European powers followed until Britain gained control in the 18th and 19th centuries, ruling through the East India Company. Although the Indian Mutiny of 1857 against British rule was crushed, it succeeded in breaking the power of the Company and in 1858 India became part of the British Empire, a move which lead to an increased movement for independence.

Great Rebellion

East India Company

It was only in 1947, assisted by the peaceful protests of Mohandas Gandhi and his followers, that India finally gained independence. Gandhi was assassinated whilst walkiing in the grounds of Birla House in Delhi in January 1948.

Actors/Actresses and Directors
The film actress Vivien Leigh was born as Vivian Mary Hartley in Darjeeling in West Bengal in 1913. She won two Academy Awards during her career, for her role as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind in 1939 and for the 1951 film of Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire. She was married to Sir Laurence Olivier for two decades.

Vivien Leigh

With Laurence Olivier

Artists and Architects

The amateur photographer Julia Cameron was born as Julia Pattle in 1815 in Calcutta, West Bengal. She became one of the first women to reach prominence in the new field of portrait photography receiving acclaim for her pictures of many notable Victorian figures including Darwin, Tennyson, Browning and Carlyle who visited her at her home Dimbola Lodge on the Isle of Wight. In 1875 she left England and settled on the island of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) where she died in 1879.

Julia Cameron

Famous People
The economist and social reformer William Beveridge was born in Rangpur, Bengal (now Bangladesh) in 1879. Active as an administrator he came to particular prominence in 1942 when he wrote a report on the introduction of a universal social insurance. This ground-breaking document, known as "The Beveridge Report", was used as the blueprint for the Welfare State which revolutionized British society after its creation under Clement Attlee's 1945-51 government.

William Beveridge
Welfare State

Want is only one of five giants on the road of reconstruction . . . the others are Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness.
(Social Insurance and Allied Services or "The Beveridge Report", 1942)

The double-agent Kim Philby was born as Harold Philby in Ambala, Punjab in 1911. While studying at Cambridge University he joined the Communist Party together with three friends and fellow students: Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and Anthony Blunt. The four - who became known as the Cambridge Spies - would later divulge many secrets to the Soviet Union and become one of the most notorious and damaging spy rings to operate in Britain during the Cold War. Philby died in Moscow in 1988 where he had defected to in 1963.

Cambridge Spies

Cold War

To betray, you must first belong.
(Sunday Times, 1967)

Nobel Prize Winners

The author of The Jungle Book Rudyard Kipling, was born as Joseph Rudyard Kipling in Bombay in 1865. In 1907 he became the first English writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Rudyard Kipling
Poetry Archive

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same . . .

If... (Rewards and Fairies - 1910)

World Heritage Sites

Since 1983 thirty-five sites of cultural, historic and natural importance have been designated as a World Heritage Site in India by the UNESCO.

Writers and Poets
For Rudyard Kipling see Nobel Prize Winners

The writer William Makepeace Thackeray was born in Calcutta, West Bengal in 1811.

William Makepeace Thackeray

If a man's character is to be abused, say what you will, there's nobody like a relation to do the business.
Vanity Fair (1847-48)

The author of 1984 and Animal Farm George Orwell, was born as Eric Arthur Blair in Motihari, Bengal in 1903.

 George Orwell
George Orwell

All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.
Animal Farm (1945)

The writer Lawrence Durrell was born in 1912 in Jullundur in the state of Punjab near to Kashmir and Tibet. He wrote poetry and nonfiction but became best known for his tetralogy The Alexandria Quartet set in the Egyptian city.

Lawrence Durrell

Lawrence Durrell

His brother the naturalist and writer Gerald Durrell was born in 1925 in Jamshedpur in the east of the country. He combined his interests of zoology and writing to pubish many autobiographical books on his experiences with wildlife and nature including My Family and Other Animals about his childhood on Corfu. He founded a series of institutions on the Channel Island of Jersey, including the island's zoo, to encourage the protection and preservation of wildlife and the conservation of nature.

Gerald Durrell

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