Portal:Hertfordshire/Selected biography

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Selected biography 1

Portal:Hertfordshire/Selected biography/1

Sarah Churchill Duchess.jpg
Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough rose to be one of the most influential women in British history as a result of her close friendship with Queen Anne of Great Britain. Sarah's friendship and influence with Princess Anne led to public figures turning their attentions to her in the hope that she would influence Anne to comply with requests. As a result, by the time Anne became queen, Sarah’s knowledge of government, and intimacy with the Queen, allowed her to become a powerful friend and a dangerous enemy, the last in the long line of Stuart favourites.

In an age when marriage was principally for money, not love, Sarah enjoyed an unusually close relationship with her husband, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, whom she married in 1677. Sarah acted as Anne's agent after her father, James II, was deposed during the Glorious Revolution; and she promoted her interests during the rule of James's successors, William III and Mary II. When Anne came to the throne after William's death in 1702, the Duke of Marlborough, together with Sidney Godolphin, the first Earl of Godolphin, rose to head the government, partly as a result of his wife's friendship with the queen. While the Duke was out of the country commanding troops in the War of the Spanish Succession, Sarah kept him informed of court intrigue, while he sent her requests and political advice which she would then convey to the Queen. Sarah tirelessly campaigned on behalf of the Whigs, while also devoting much of her time to building projects such as Blenheim Palace. She died in 1744 at the age of eighty-four.

A strong-willed woman who liked to get her own way, Sarah tried the Queen's patience whenever she disagreed with her on political, court or church appointments. After her final break with Anne in 1711, she was dismissed from the court with her husband, but she returned to favour under the Hanoverians after Anne's death. She had famous subsequent disagreements with many important people, including her daughter the second Duchess of Marlborough; the architect of Blenheim Palace, John Vanbrugh; prime minister Robert Walpole; King George II; and his wife, Queen Caroline. The money she inherited from the Marlborough trust left her one of the richest women in Europe.

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Selected biography 2

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Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton MBE (born 7 January 1985 in Stevenage is a British Formula One racing driver from England, currently racing for the McLaren Mercedes team and is the youngest ever Formula One World Champion. He was named after American sprinter Carl Lewis.

At the age of ten Hamilton approached the McLaren team principal, Ron Dennis, at the 1995 Autosport Awards ceremony and told him "I want to race for you one day." Less than three years later, he was signed by McLaren and Mercedes-Benz to their Young Driver Support Programme. After winning the British Formula Renault, Formula Three Euroseries and GP2 championships on his way up the racing career ladder, he became a McLaren F1 driver for 2007, making his Formula One debut 12 years after his initial encounter with Dennis. Coming from a mixed-race background, with a black father and white mother, Hamilton is often labelled "the first black driver in Formula One".

In his first season in Formula One Hamilton set numerous records and finished second in the 2007 Formula One Championship one point behind Kimi Räikkönen. His first world championship was won the following season, ahead of Felipe Massa by the same margin of a single point. He has stated that he wants to stay with the McLaren team for the rest of his F1 career.

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Selected biography 3

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George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950) was an Irish playwright. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his writings deal sternly with prevailing social problems, but have a vein of comedy to make their stark themes more palatable. Shaw examined education, marriage, religion, government, health care and class privilege.

He was most angered by the exploitation of the working class, and most of his writings censure that abuse. An ardent socialist, Shaw wrote many brochures and speeches for the Fabian Society. He became an accomplished orator in the furtherance of its causes, which included gaining equal rights for men and women, alleviating abuses of the working class, rescinding private ownership of productive land, and promoting healthy lifestyles.

Shaw married Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a fellow Fabian, whom he survived. They settled in Ayot St. Lawrence in a house now called Shaw's Corner. Shaw died there, aged 94, from chronic problems exacerbated by injuries he incurred by falling.

He is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion, respectively. Shaw wanted to refuse his Nobel Prize outright because he had no desire for public honors, but accepted it at his wife's behest: she considered it a tribute to Ireland. He did reject the monetary award, requesting it be used to finance translation of Swedish books to English.

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Selected biography 4

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Alesha Anjanette Dixon (born 7 October 1978) is a British pop/R&B singer-songwriter, dancer, model and television personality. She first found fame in the all-female R&B trio Mis-Teeq, however, she is now a solo artist. Mis-Teeq separated in 2005 and Dixon, signed to Polydor, began recording her debut solo album, Fired Up, but due to poor record sales of her first single she was dropped from Polydor. Subsequently, Fired Up was not released in most territories, including her native United Kingdom.

In 2007 Dixon became a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing and eventually won. Her television exposure led to a successful comeback, which included her signing to Asylum Records, an offshoot of Warner Music Group. Dixon released a second album, under Asylum Records, entitled The Alesha Show, in 2008. In September 2009 Dixon became a judge on Strictly Come Dancing, replacing Arlene Phillips. The replacement of Phillips by Dixon gained criticism, as some questioned the extent of Dixon's dancing knowledge. Dixon herself dismissed the criticism, describing it as a "storm in a teacup", and refused to stand down as judge.

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Selected biography 5

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Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival (26 December 1887 – 31 January 1966) was a British Army officer and First World War veteran, born in Aspenden, near Buntingford. Percival enlisted at the start of the First World War, ascending to the rank of major by its conclusion, and receiving a Distinguished Service Order for his "power of command and knowledge of tactics." He built a successful military career during the interwar period but is most noted for his involvement in World War II, when he commanded the forces of the British Commonwealth during the Battle of Malaya and the subsequent Battle of Singapore.

Percival's surrender to the invading Imperial Japanese Army force is the largest capitulation in British military history, and it permanently undermined Britain's prestige as an imperial power in the Far East. However, current knowledge about the years of under-funding of Malaya's defences, diversion of resources to other parts of the war effor, and the inexperienced, under-equipped nature of the Commonwealth army makes it possible to hold a more sympathetic view of his command.

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Selected biography 6

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Sarah brightman.jpg
Sarah Brightman (born 14 August 1960) is an English crossover soprano, actress, songwriter and dancer, born in Berkhamsted. She sings in many languages including English, Spanish, French, Latin, German, Italian, Russian, Hindi, Mandarin and Japanese.

Brightman has established herself as the world's biggest selling soprano of all time, with worldwide sales of more than 26 million albums and over 2 million DVDs. She has 160 Gold and Platinum awards in 34 countries, and is the only artist to have held #1 spots on the Billboard Classical and Dance charts simultaneously. She is ranked by the Recording Industry Association of America as the best-selling female classical artist of the twenty-first century, and set a Guinness World Record with Time to Say Goodbye; the duet with Andrea Bocelli is the best-selling single in German recording history. Her personal assets have been estimated to be around £30m.

She was a dancer in troupes such as Hot Gossip, and later released a number of disco singles. She was a musical theatre performer and partner of theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, with whom she originated roles including Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera. After her divorce from Lloyd Webber, Brightman became a crossover artist with former Enigma producer Frank Peterson. Her style is a blend of classical vocals and pop-inspired instrumentation and arrangement.

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Selected biography 7

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Tommy Smith (born 22 May 1980) is an English professional footballer who plays as a right winger or striker. Born in Hemel Hempstead, he started his professional career at nearby Watford Football Club, playing a part in their rise to the Premier League under the management of Graham Taylor 1999. He played more than half of Watford's league games in 1999–2000, and in September 2000 scored on his sole appearance for England under-21s.

Owing in part to financial constraints, Smith left Watford in 2003, spending one season at Sunderland, followed by two at Derby County. After being voted Derby's Player of the year for 2005–06, he returned to Watford just after the start of the following season. He helped the Hertfordshire club reach the FA Cup semi-finals in 2006–07, and was voted Watford F.C. Player of the Season in consecutive seasons in 2007–08 and 2008–09, scoring 17 goals in his latter season. He joined Portsmouth for a fee of approximately £1.8 million on 27 August 2009. After playing for them in the Premier League and Football League Championship, Smith joined QPR during the 2010–11 season.

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Selected biography 8

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The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban.jpg
Ælfric of Abingdon (Old English: Ælfrīc; died 16 November 1005), also known as Ælfric of Wessex, was a late 10th century Archbishop of Canterbury. He previously held the offices of abbot of St Albans Abbey (modern cathedral pictured) and Bishop of Ramsbury, as well as likely being the abbot of Abingdon Abbey. After his election to Canterbury, he continued to hold the bishopric of Ramsbury along with the archbishopric of Canterbury until his death in 1005. Ælfric may have altered the composition of Canterbury's cathedral chapter by changing the clergy serving in the cathedral from secular clergy to monks. In his will he left a ship to King Æthelred II of England as well as more ships to other legatees.
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Selected biography 9

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Victoria Beckham, May 2010.jpg
Victoria Caroline Beckham (née Adams; born 17 April 1974) is an English fashion designer, businesswoman and former singer. Raised in Goffs Oak, Hertfordshire, Beckham rose to fame in the late 1990s with the all-female pop group Spice Girls, and was dubbed Posh Spice by the July 1996 issue of the British pop music magazine Top of the Pops. She married professional footballer David Beckham in 1999, and in the same year the couple purchased what is now known as Beckingham Palace, located in Sawbridgeworth. Since the Spice Girls split, she has had a solo pop music career, scoring four UK Top 10 singles. Her first single to be released, "Out of Your Mind", reached Number 2 in the UK Singles Chart and is her highest chart entry to date. During her solo career, she has been signed to Virgin Records and Telstar Records.
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