Portal:England/Selected biography/More selections

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Hugh Grant at the Berlin premiere of Music and Lyrics in 2007

Hugh John Mungo Grant (born 9 September 1960) is a Golden Globe-winning British actor and film producer. He achieved international stardom after playing the alter ego of writer-director Richard Curtis in the sleeper hit Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). He used this breakthrough role as a frequent cinematic persona during the 1990s to deliver comic performances in mainstream films like Mickey Blue Eyes (1999) and Notting Hill (1999). He established himself, by the turn of the 21st century, as a prominent leading man skilled with a satirical comic talent. In recent years, Grant has expanded his oeuvre with critically acclaimed turns as a cad in Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), About A Boy (2002), and American Dreamz (2006).

Grant has been criticised by students of cinema for putting emphasis on nuanced mannerisms, for the predictability of his movies, and for his unwillingness to stretch as an actor. Within the film industry, he is cited as a movie star who approaches his roles like a character actor, with the ability to make acting look effortless. Hallmarks of his comic skills include a nonchalant touch of irony/sarcasm and studied physical mannerisms as well as his precisely-timed dialogue delivery and facial expressions.


James Hamilton "Jimmy" Speirs

James Hamilton "Jimmy" Speirs (22 March 1886 — 20 August 1917) was a Scottish footballer who represented his country on one occasion, scored the winning goal in the 1911 FA Cup Final, and received the Military Medal during the First World War. Born in Glasgow, he was one of six children, and worked as a clerk while playing youth football for Annandale. He started his adult football career with local junior team Maryhill, where he played for less than a season, before he moved to Rangers in 1905. He spent three years with the club, but won only the Glasgow Merchants' Charity Cup, before he joined a third Glasgow side Clyde. After one season, he left Clyde and Scotland, and joined Bradford City for their second season in the First Division. His greatest success came in his second season with Bradford, when he was the club's captain and goalscorer in their FA Cup Final victory of 1911, in a team featuring eight Scottish-born players.

He spent another two seasons with Bradford City, before he joined Leeds City, but after two seasons, the First World War broke out. League football continued for one more season, at the end of which Speirs returned to Glasgow. Married with two young children, Speirs would have been exempt from conscription but he volunteered to join the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in 1915. He was promoted to Lance Corporal, Corporal and Sergeant, and won the Military Medal for bravery in the field, but was killed during the Battle of Passchendaele in August 1917, at the age of 31.


Samuel Cowan (10 May 1901 – 4 October 1964) was an English football player and manager. A relative latecomer to the sport, Cowan did not play football until he was 17 and was 22 by the time he turned professional. He made his league debut for Doncaster Rovers in 1923, and signed for First Division Manchester City the following season.

Cowan played centre half for Manchester City for 11 seasons, captaining the team in the early to mid 1930s. He is the only player to have represented Manchester City in three FA Cup finals, as a runner-up in 1926 and 1933, and as a winner in 1934. Internationally, he gained three England caps between 1926 and 1931. In total he played 407 times for Manchester City, putting him 12th in terms of all-time appearances. In 1935, he transferred to Bradford City, and subsequently moved to Mossley as player-manager. In 1938, Cowan joined Brighton & Hove Albion as a coach, and set up a physiotherapy business. He returned to Manchester City as manager in 1946, winning the Second Division in his only season in charge. He continued to work in sports and physiotherapy until his death in 1964.


Mary II of England

Mary II (30 April 1662 – 28 December 1694) was Queen of England and Ireland from 13 February 1689, and Queen of Scotland from 11 April 1689 until her death.

Born at St James's Palace in London, she was the eldest daughter of James, Duke of York (the future James II of England) and his first wife, Anne Hyde. Mary's uncle was Charles II; her maternal grandfather, Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, served for a lengthy period as Charles's chief advisor. Although her mother bore eight children, only Mary and her younger sister Anne survived into adulthood. Mary, a Protestant, became queen following the Glorious Revolution, which deposed her Roman Catholic father. Mary reigned jointly with her husband and first cousin, William III and II, who became sole ruler on her death in 1694. Popular histories usually refer to the joint reign as that of "William and Mary". Mary wielded less power than William during the parts of her reign when William remained in England, ceding most of her authority to her husband, though he heavily relied on her. She did, however, govern the realms alone when William was engaged in military campaigns abroad, proving herself to be a powerful, firm, and effective ruler. She was very active in the Church of England, of which she was Supreme Governor. Though she shared the post with her husband, she largely exercised its power alone.


Bobby Robson

Sir Robert William Robson Kt CBE (born 18 February 1933), commonly known as Sir Bobby Robson /ˈbɒbi ˈrɒbsən/, is a former international football player and former manager of several European clubs and the England national football team.

His professional playing career as an inside-forward spanned nearly 20 years, during which he played for just three clubs – Fulham, West Bromwich Albion and briefly for the defunct Vancouver Royals. He also made 20 appearances for England, scoring four goals.

He is now better known for his success as both a club and international manager, having won league championships in both the Netherlands and Portugal, earning trophies in England and Spain, and taking England to the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup. He was most recently a mentor to the manager of the Irish national football team.

Robson was created a Knight Bachelor in 2002, is a member of the English Football Hall of Fame and is the honorary president of Ipswich Town. He has, since 1991, had recurrent medical problems with cancer, and in August 2008, he admitted defeat to lung cancer. He stated "My condition is described as static and has not altered since my last bout of chemotherapy...I am going to die sooner rather than later. But then everyone has to go sometime and I have enjoyed every minute".


Natasha Bedingfield

Natasha Anne Bedingfield (26 November 1981) is an English pop singer and songwriter. Based in Book St., London, Bedingfield debuted in the 1990s as a member of the Christian dance/electronic group The DNA Algorithm with her siblings Daniel Bedingfield and Nikola Rachelle. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Bedingfield recorded rock and gospel songs for the Hillsong London Church, while Daniel Bedingfield went on to enjoy success with hits “Gotta Get Thru This” and “If You're Not The One”.

Natasha and Daniel share the Guinness World Record for being the only siblings to have had solo number-ones in UK chart history. Similarly, they have each cracked the Top 10 in Australia, United States, Canada and Europe. Bedingfield recorded her first album Unwritten in 2004. The album contained primarily uptempo pop songs and was influenced by R&B music; it enjoyed international success with over 2.5 million sold worldwide. In 2007, she received a Grammy Award nomination for "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance" for the song "Unwritten". Bedingfield's second album N.B. (2007) yielded the singles "I Wanna Have Your Babies" which was written and produced by Natasha Bedingfield, Wayne Wilkins, Andrew Frampton, and Steve Kipner, "Soulmate" and "Say It Again". Bedingfield has achieved 5 top ten singles in the United Kingdom to date and as of April 2008, she has sold over 10 million singles and albums worldwide. Bedingfield has promoted humanitarian causes throughout the world, and is noted for her work with children in the "Stop the Traffik" campaign through her mother's charity, Global Angels. While she is not politically outspoken in the US, her song "Unwritten" has been used by Barack Obama on the campaign trail in 2008.


Richard Rothwell's portrait of Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

After Mary Godwin's mother died giving birth to her, she and her older half-sister, Fanny Imlay, were raised by her father. When Mary was three, Godwin married his neighbour, Mary Jane Clairmont. Godwin provided his daughter with a rich, if informal, education, encouraging her to adhere to his liberal political theories. In 1814, Mary Godwin fell in love with one of her father’s political followers, the married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Together with Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairmont, they left for France and travelled through Europe; upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816 after the suicide of Percy Shelley's first wife, Harriet.


William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language, and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who bore him three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592 he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of the playing company the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.

Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century. Next he wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest examples in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime, and in 1623 two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's.