But when Bosie’s father learned of the relationship, he accused Oscar of sodomy. Oscar countered with a suit of libel. The lawsuit revealed gay relations in Oscar’s personal life, leading to a criminal case against him.
In May of 1895, Oscar received a prison sentence of two years. His crime was gross indecency. His punishment, while severe, was less than what the judge wanted. “It is the worst case I have ever tried. In my judgement it is totally inadequate for such a case as this. The sentence of the Court is that you be imprisoned and kept to hard labor for two years,” said the judge.
Upon his release, when others recommended he forget his time and the reasons for his imprisonment, Oscar wrote that “To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.”
“The love of Oscar Wilde and Bosie” notes and sources:
Photograph of Oscar Wilde and Bosie was taken in 1893.
British Museum Shelfmark MS 81783 A / Wikimedia Commons
“De Profundis” by Oscar Wilde, published in 1997 and transcribed from the 1913 Methuen & Co. edition by David Price – Project Gutenberg
She drank whiskey, swore often, and smoked handmade cigars. She wore pants under her skirt and a gun under her apron. At six feet tall and two hundred pounds, Mary Fields was an intimidating woman.
Mary lived in Montana, in a town called Cascade. She was a special member of the community there. All schools would close on her birthday, and though women were not allowed entry into saloons, she was given special permission by the mayor to come in anytime and to any saloon she liked.
But Mary wasn’t from Montana. She was born into enslavement in Tennessee sometime in the early 1830s, and lived enslaved for more than thirty years until slavery was abolished. As a free woman, life led her first to Florida to work for a family and then Ohio when part of the family moved.
When Mary was 52, her close friend who lived in Montana became ill with pneumonia. Upon hearing the news, Mary dropped everything and came to nurse her friend back to health. Her friend soon recovered and Mary decided to stay in Montana settling in Cascade.
Her beginning in Cascade wasn’t smooth. To make ends meet, she first tried her hand at the restaurant business. She opened a restaurant, but she wasn’t much of a chef. And she was also too generous, never refusing to serve a customer who couldn’t pay. So the restaurant failed within a year.
But then in 1895, when in her sixties, Mary, or as “Stagecoach Mary” as she was sometimes called because she never missed a day of work, became the second woman and first African American to work as a mail carrier in the U.S. She got the job because she was the fastest applicant to hitch six horses.
Eventually she retired to a life of running a laundry business. And babysitting all the kids in town. And going to baseball games. And being friends with much of the townsfolk.
This was Mary Fields. A rebel, a legend.
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“All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child.”
– Marie Curie, the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize and the first person to win the prize twice. She won the award for physics in 1903 and chemistry in 1911.
“A quote from Marie Curie” sources: Portrait of Marie taken in 1911 – Wikimedia Commons / Pierre Curie (1923), as translated by Charlotte Kellogg and Vernon Lyman Kellogg, p. 162 – Marie Curie Wikiquote
In look, Nancy Wake was glamorous; in personality, she was a fearless fighter. Rebellious in her way of being, she was born in New Zealand, but by 1940, had lived in Australia, the U.S., the U.K., Austria, and France.
While living in Vienna during the late 1930s, Nancy experienced Jewish men and women being beaten in the streets by Nazi gangs. She vowed to do anything she could to stop the Nazi movement. “I hate wars and violence but if they come then I don’t see why we women should just wave our men a proud goodbye and then knit them balaclavas,” she would say.
Nancy joined the resistance, becoming a courier and escort for Allied soldiers and refugees looking to leave France. “It was much easier for us, you know, to travel all over France. A woman could get out of a lot of trouble that a man could not,” she remarked regarding the work.
She took part in many missions, and her life was in constant danger. At one time, she was the most wanted person by the Gestapo. But was always able to elude capture, a skill which earned her the nickname, “White Mouse.” Her husband, however, was captured and executed for not sharing information about her whereabouts.
Nancy became one of the most decorated servicewomen of the war by the Allies. Looking back, she would remark, “I was never afraid. I was too busy to be afraid.”
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“WWII hero Nancy Wake” Sources: “Nancy Wake” – Wikipedia / Farewell to Nancy Wake, the mouse who ran rings around the Nazis, The Guardian / Australian War Memorial
“He told the orphans they were going out into the country, so they ought to be cheerful. At last they would be able to exchange the horrible suffocating city walls for meadows of flowers, streams where they could bathe, woods full of berries and mushrooms. He told them to wear their best clothes, and so they came out into the yard, two by two, nicely dressed and in a happy mood.”
Then he walked with them, “his head bent forward, holding the hand of a child, without a hat, a leather belt around his waist, and wearing high boots.”
Janusz Korczak ran an orphanage in Warsaw before the war started. Then in 1940 his orphanage was forced to move to the Warsaw ghetto. Janusz went with the children.
He had opportunities to leave the ghetto. The resistance wanted to help him escape. He chose to stay, to be with the children, to be with them to the end, to that day in early August of 1942, when he had to convince the SS men to let him go with the children to Treblinka, an extermination camp.
“I exist not to be loved and admired, but to love and act. It is not the duty of those around me to love me. Rather, it is my duty to be concerned about the world, about man.”
Hazel Lee loved to swim, and play handball, and play cards, and cook. And she loved to fly planes.
About flying, her sister described the love of aviation for Hazel as she “enjoyed the danger and doing something that was new to Chinese girls.”
During WWII, the U.S. didn’t have enough male pilots. So the Women Airforce Service Pilots was created.
Hazel was invited to join. And the young woman, born to Chinese parents in Portland, Oregon accepted, even though WASP pilots were not officially considered part of the military and thus received no military benefits.
Her attitude towards work was described well by a fellow pilot — “I’ll take and deliver anything.”
Calm and fearless, she had a great attitude and a sense of humor. And she loved to play pranks. She “used her lipstick to inscribe Chinese characters on the tail of her plane and the planes of her fellow pilots. One lucky fellow who happened to be a bit on the chubby side, had his plane dubbed (unknown to him) ‘Fat Ass.’”
On November 23rd, 1944, flying in bad weather in North Dakota, she crashed with another plane upon landing. She suffered severe burns and two days later she passed away.
Of the 38 female pilots to die during WWII, Hazel was the last one.
“How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”
– Sophie Scholl
These were the last words of Sophie Scholl, a 21 year old college student at the University of Munich and member of the non violent White Rose group, who were dedicated to passive resistance against the Nazi government. She was executed for passing out leaflets about the resistance.
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be ‘damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.'” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Biography of Eleanor Roosevelt
Early years and marriage
Born in Manhattan in 1884, Eleanor Roosevelt suffered much trauma in her early years. At two, she was with her parents aboard a ship that crashed. Everyone survived but the event left Eleanor fearful of ships and seawater. A few years later, when Eleanor was eight, her mother and a younger brother died from diphtheria. Less than two years later, her father also passed away after a seizure shortly after a fall. Eleanor was just shy of her tenth birthday at the time.
After her parents passed away, Eleanor went to live with her grandmother. She continued suffering from the traumas and was also dealing with worries about her looks. But in these years, Eleanor began to find space for joy. She fell in love with field hockey. So much so that as she reflected on life, she remarked that her happiest day was when she made her high school field hockey team. And Eleanor’s self-confidence began growing with support from the school headmistress, who was known for being a great educator and teaching women to be independent. As a result, Eleanor thrived and was beloved in school.
It was also during these years that love came into Eleanor’s life. In 1902, she met Franklin D. Roosevelt while on a train ride. A romance blossomed, and they became engaged the following year. Eleanor’s uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt, walked her down the aisle when she and Franklin married.
Political Life & Later Years
Eleanor’s husband became a politician. And while his career grew in stature, eventually becoming President, Eleanor’s role as a public figure grew as well. “I think I have a good deal of my Uncle Theodore in me, because I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on,” she would say.
Balancing work with raising six children, as First Lady, Eleanor played an active role in her husband’s presidency, serving as his eyes and ears around the country. Working tirelessly, a day in her life could consist of travel to give multiple speeches while writing an article for a paper and letters to friends and associates. She used her platform for social progress, becoming known for adamantly standing up for equality, including disobeying segregation laws in the South. The rules needed to change is how Eleanor lived and opportunities for disadvantaged people needed to be created.
After her husband’s death in 1945, Eleanor stayed active in public life, serving as a delegate to the United Nations and chairing the UN Commission on Human Rights. Instrumental in drafting a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she worked hard to promote its adoption.
Eleanor believed in a better world, or in her words, a world in which “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” She passed away in 1962.
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“Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be ‘damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.'” – “As quoted in How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (1944; 1948) by Dale Carnegie; though Roosevelt has sometimes been credited with the originating the expression, ‘Damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ is set in quote marks, indicating she herself was quoting a common expression in saying this. Actually, this saying was coined back even earlier, 1836, by evangelist Lorenzo Dow in his sermons”- Eleanor Roosevelt Wikiquote / U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, NAID: 195393 & 195376 / Wikimedia Commons / Photograph taken circa 1932 – Eleanor Roosevelt, -1962. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2004670795/> / Wikimedia Commons
“Susie King Taylor quote about sympathy during war” sources: Susie King Taylor, known as the first African American Army nurse. [Boston: published by the author, 1902 from a photograph taken between 1862 and 1866] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2018663038/>.
Hannah Szenes once wrote, “There are stars whose radiance is visible on Earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world even though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for humankind.”
She was a playwright and a poet, and she was a Special Operations Executive (SOE) paratrooper, one “of 37 Jewish parachutists of Mandate Palestine parachuted by the British Army into Yugoslavia during the Second World War to assist in the rescue of Hungarian Jews about to be deported to the German death camp at Auschwitz.”
She was only in her early 20s then.
And so it was on March 14, 1944 that she was parachuted into Yugoslavia. At the Hungarian border she was arrested by Hungarian gendarmes, “who found her British military transmitter, used to communicate with the SOE and other partisans.
Hannah was taken to a prison, stripped, tied to a chair, then whipped and clubbed for three days. She lost several teeth as a result of the beating. The guards wanted to know the code for her transmitter so they could find out who the parachutists were and trap others. Transferred to a Budapest prison, Szenes was repeatedly interrogated and cruelly tortured, but she only revealed her name and refused to provide the transmitter code.”
She was tried for treason on October 28th, 1944 and executed by firing squad on November 7th, 1944.
Three years prior, she wrote:
so young to die.
No, no, not I,
I love the warm sunny skies,
light, song, shining eyes,
I want no war, no battle cry,
No, no, not I.”