For the last few years, when the holiday season comes around, we've looked back to previous centuries for the newsworthy events of the year. Today, please join me on a whistle stop tour 100 years back in time to 1910 ....

As Haley's Comet makes its stately way across the night skies, the monarchies of Europe are in flux: While Britain celebrates the coronation of George V, the last king of Portugal flees his country; further east, the Balkan country of Montenegro begins a shortlived period as an independent kingdom under the rule of Nicholas I, while in neighboring Albania, the weakened Ottoman empire attempts to quell an uprising.

Map of Africa 1914Africa is a patchwork of European colonies with just Liberia and Ethiopia remaining independent. Before the year is ended, Egypt will have seen Boutros Ghali, its first native-born prime minister, assassinated; France will be at war with the Ouaddai Kingdom over parts of what are now Chad and Sudan; and the newly created Union of South Africa will be established as a dominion of the British Empire.

In North America, the Mexican Revolution to oust dictator Porfirio Díaz begins, leading to a decade of civil war. In the USA, race riots erupt across much of the country on July 4, following African-American heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson's win against his white contender James J Jeffries.

In Asia, Japan annexes Korea beginning a 35 year period of Japanese rule; slavery is banned in China, and four year old Puyi sits on the Peacock throne oblivous to the fact that the Qing Dynasty's rule over China is almost over.

Dr CrippenGreat technological and scientific strides are made on land and in air:

In Germany, a Zeppelin makes the first commercial passenger flight, and Europe's electric streetcars proudly carry almost 7 million riders in a year. In the USA Henry Ford sells 10,000 automobiles; and Philip Parmalee, a pilot for the Wright Brothers, carries a package of silk 65 miles across Ohio, not only setting a new world speed record but becoming the first person to transport commercial freight by air. Albrecht Kossel wins the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his research in cell biology; the first infrared photos are published by Professor Robert Williams; and the notorious Dr Crippen is arrested, becoming the first criminal to be captured with the aid of wireless telegraph communication.

Meanwhile, the Vatican introduces a compulsorary oath for priests and teachers against the theological concept of modernism, which proposed that religious thought can evolve over time (the oath would not be rescinded until 1967).

David Niven, Jacques Cousteau and Mother Teresa are born; while Florence Nightingale, Henri Rousseau, Leo Tolstoy and Mark Twain die. The year before Twain predicted his death saying "I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It's coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. The Almighty has said no doubt, 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'"

Portrait of Daniel-Henry KahnweilerIn the world of art and architecture, New York's Pennsylvania Station is opened, Pierre Bonnard paints Girl with Parrot, Pablo Picasso paints Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, six year old Salvador Dali paints Landscape Near Figueras, and the first exhibition of Post-Impressionism is held in London.

Landscape Near FiguerasIn the USA, Florence Lawrence, often described as America's first motion picture star, is at the height of her 270 silent-movie career; and Damon Runyon, best remembered for his short stories, two of which inspired Guys and Dolls, begins work as a journalist in New York City. Across the Atlantic, in France, Gaston Leroux publishes his novel The Phantom of the Opera, a not particularly successful book which nevertheless will inspire a number of stage and film adaptations, most notably Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical - the longest running Broadway show in history.

G.K. ChestertonOther notable publishing events in 1910 include The Emerald City of Oz by L Frank Baum (the seventh of thirteen Oz novels); and Howards End, E.M. Forster's fourth novel to be published in five years, and one of only five he will publish in his lifetime. H.G. Wells takes a break from writing "scientific romances" to pen a comedy, The History of Mr Polly; while Lucy Maud Montgomery follows up the success of her first two novels, Anne of Green Gables (1908) and Anne of Avonlea (1909), with Kilmeny of the Orchard. Meanwhile, the ever prolific G.K. Chesterton (author of about 80 books, 200 short stories, 4000 essays, several plays and a few hundred poems) publishes a collection of essays inspired by a title given to him two years earlier by the Times newspaper, "What's wrong with the world?" To which Chesterton pithily replied:

Dear Sirs,
I am.
Sincerely yours,
G.K. Chesterton


Images (top to bottom):
Map of Africa, 1914
Dr Crippen
Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler
Salvador Dali, Landscape Near Figueras
G.K. Chesterton

-- Davina, BookBrowse Editor

Excellent! My favorite aspect of history is looking back to see the seeds of what is happening now. This post is particularly full of such seeds.
# Posted By Judy Krueger | 12/3/10 11:08 AM
Loved the 1910 posts. Your sidebars and miscellanea at the end are better than the content at many sites. Thanks!
# Posted By Susan Reiners | 12/10/10 10:40 AM
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