E. T. A. Hoffmann

E. T. A. Hoffmann, German author
Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann

E. T. A. Hoffmann, (1776-1822) born Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann was a German author of fantasy and Gothic horror. He was also a jurist, composer, music critic and artist. Hoffmann is one of the major creators of the Romantic movement.

Jacques Offenbach

Jacques Offenbach, created the opera The Tales of Hoffmann
Jacques Offenbach

His stories were the basis of the famous opéra fantastique by Jacques Offenbach, The Tales of Hoffmann. Hoffmann became the heavily fictionalized hero.


The opéra is based on three of Hoffmann’s stories and was Offenbach’s final work.


Offenbach’s opera was eventually transformed into a 1916 silent German film, a 1923 film and a 1951 movie.

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Nat Love

Nat Love, cowboy, (1854-1921) was born a slave. When slavery ended he traveled to Dodge City, Kansas. He lived the live of a wild west cowboy. Love had a gift for working with horses and won rope, throw, tie, bridle, saddle, and bronco riding contests.
Wild west cowboy

Nat Love (1854-1921) was a slave born on Robert Love’s Tennessee plantation. After the civil war ended and the slaves were freed his parents became sharecroppers. His father Sampson died shortly after and Nat took a job at a local farm to help breaking horses.


Eventually Nat traveled to Dodge City, Kansas where he worked as a cowboy on a cattle drive. From Dodge City it was on to Deadwood in the Dakota Territory.


At a Deadwood rodeo Nat won the roping, bridle, saddle, and bronco riding contests. He said fans started calling him Deadwood Dick. The name was taken from a popular dime novel character.

Captured by Indians

Like a lot of good looking smart men of the time Nat Love was his own best promoter and embellisher. Continuing west he said he was captured by Pima Indians in Arizona and almost married the chief’s daughter.

Calm life

His wild life calming down Nat got a job as a Pullman porter on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad then moved to southern California


Having learned to read and write as a child he published his autobiography entitled Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as ‘Deadwood Dick.’

His final job was a security guard and courier for a Los Angeles securities company.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German professor of theology, a composer, a priest, and a monk.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German professor of theology, a composer, a priest, and a monk. Horrified by the indulgences of the Roman Catholic Church he became a major initiator of the Protestant Reformation.

Protestant Reformation

The Protestant Reformation was a religious reform movement. It swept through Europe in the 1500s. The Reformation divided the Roman Catholic Church. Many religious groups separated due to doctrine. They were listed under an umbrella know as Protestantism.


Martin Luther remains one of the most influential figures in Christianity.

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Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was an escaped slave. He was an author, editor, diplomat, suffragist, and a national leader of the abolitionist movement.

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was an escaped slave from Maryland. He was an author, editor, diplomat, suffragist, and a national leader of the abolitionist movement.

Orator & writer

A brilliant orator Northerners had a hard time imaging that he had once been a slave. This inspired him to write his first autobiography which became a best seller.


Douglass supported women’s suffrage, though he played a large part in the ratification of the 13th Amendment, 14th Amendment and the 15th Amendment to the Constitution.

Constitutional Amendments

  • The 13th Amendment outlaws slavery.
  • The 14th Amendment provides citizenship and equal protection under the law.
  • The 15th Amendment protects all citizens from racial discrimination in voting.

Vice Presidential nominee

Frederick Douglass was the first African American to be nominated for vice president.

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Sir Kenelm Digby

Sir Kenelm Digby (1603 –1665) was a romantic 17th century English figure.

Dashing 17th century courtier

Sir Kenelm Digby (1603 –1665) was a dashing 17th century courtier. During his time on the continent Marie de Medici fell madly in love with him and wrote about him in her memoirs.

An English courtier, diplomat, philosopher, and astrologer Digby was also a privateer.


A privater is a government sanctioned pirate. Captured ships were subject to sale under prize law. The proceeds were divided among the privateer’s sponsors, shipowners, captains and crew.

Thus Digby helped the crown fund wars, but also extracted better treatment for English ships in Algiers and helped free slaves.

He was an English courtier and diplomat. He was also a highly reputed natural philosopher, astrologer. Later he became a leading Roman Catholic intellectual and Blackloist.


Blackloist was one of a school of dissident English Roman Catholics in the 17th–18th centuries, opposed to ultramontanism and advocating obedience to secular authorities.

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Thomas Carlyle

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) was a Victorian sage
Carlyle circle, a method used in quadratic equations
Carlyle circle, a method used in quadratic equations

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) was a Victorian sage. He was an often brilliant writer, historian, philosopher, and teacher. He was born in Scotland. Carlyle was also a mathematician and developed the Carlyle circle, a method used in quadratic equations.


Carlyle is known for his theories the Great man and Hero-worship. He was influenced by William Shakespeare, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Jonathan Swift, Johann Gottlieb Fichte.


His books included The French Revolution, On Heroes, Hero-Worship, the Heroic in History, and The History of Friedrich II of Prussia. He also wrote the philosophical novel Sartor Resartus.

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Emily Brontë

Emily Bronte, English Romantic era novelist and poet

Emily Bronte (1818-1848) was an English Romantic era novelist and poet. She wrote a single novel Wuthering Heights. It was an imaginative story of passion and hate set on the Yorkshire moors. The book got terrible reviews when first published. It is now considered one of the English language’s finest novels.

The Bronte sisters

Emily was one of the three Bronte sisters, all writers. Her sister Charlotte was the most famous having written Jane Eyre and three other novels. The least famous Anne wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. The sisters never married.

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Edmond Rostand

Edmond Rostand, French poet & dramatist
Edmond Rostand, French poet & dramatist

Edmond Rostand (1868-1918) was a French poet and dramatist. He is associated with neo-romanticism. Rostand is best known for his 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac.

Cyrano de Bergerac

Cyrano was a rom-com about a dashing swordsman with a very big nose. The crux of the play is that Cyrano falls for the lovely Roxanne. He believes that she could never love him because of his very big nose. A handsome, none to bright young man falls for Roxanne, too. The love lorn Cyrano decides to help the handsome young man whispering poetry in his ear to recite to Roxanne. Eventually Roxanne see through the rouse, Cyrano gets the girl, and all’s well that ends well.

Romantic plays

Rostand’s romantic plays contrasted sharply with the naturalistic theatre popular during the late 19th century. Naturalistic theatre attempts to create an illusion of reality through a range of dramatic and theatrical strategies.

Sarah Bernhardt

Plays by Rostand attracted famously talented actors. The popular stage actress Sarah Bernhardt starred as Napoleon’s only son in Edmond Rostand’s play L’Aiglon (1900) when she was 55. She played the son, a youth who dies at 21.

The Fantasticks

In the 20th century Rostand’s work continued to produce hits. His 1884 Les Romanesques was adapted to the 1960 musical comedy The Fantasticks. And likely there will be Rostand plays made into movies in the 21st century and beyond.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was one of the great English Romantic era poets.
Romantic era poet Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was one of the great English Romantic era poets. He was married when he met Mary Wollstonecraft when she was 17. He was much older and married. Still she ran away with him. They traveled Europe. And he eventually was able to marry her. They were together at Lord Byron’s home in Switzerland when she wrote her Gothic novel Frankenstein. He died in a boating accident when he was only 30.

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The Affair of the Necklace

Marie Antoinette, Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy and Nicole Leguay
Marie Antoinette, Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy & Nicole Leguay

The Affair of the Necklace is a scandalous swindle that helped spark the French Revolution and because of its unbelievable plot twists it has been repeatedly retold in film and books.

The Con Artist

It all started with Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy. She came from a family distantly, very distantly related to Henry II. She married up, but only slightly, becoming the comtesse de La Motte and received a small pension granted by the king.

The Crook

Réteaux de Villette, a well heeled pimp, procurer, blackmailer and a forger
Réteaux de Villette

The lack of money and boredom with the marriage led to a friendship with Réteaux de Villette, a well heeled pimp, procurer, blackmailer and a forger. This gave her an idea involving her friend the ambitious Cardinal de Rohan, bishop of Strasbourg.

the ambitious Cardinal de Rohan, bishop of Strasbourg
Cardinal de Rohan

The Cardinal

The Cardinal was on the wrong side of both Marie Antoinette and her mother. The women stood between the Cardinal and rising within the French court.

Jeanne knew about jewelers Boehmer and Bassenge who had created a diamond necklace as a gift for Louis XV’s mistress Madame du Barry. With Madame du Barry out of the picture the jewelers couldn’t offload the necklace. It was worth 1,600,000 livres – over 16 million dollars today. Cutting back a tiny bit on their spendthrift ways neither and the association with a previous mistress, neither Louis XV or Marie Antoinette wanted the necklace.

Jewelers Boehmer and Bassenge who created the diamond necklace at the heart of a con
Jewelers Boehmer and Bassenge

The Con

So Jeanne strung all these characters together to pull off a magnificent con.

First she got Réteaux de Villette to forge letters to the Cardinal from Marie Antoinette requesting that he negotiate the purchase of the necklace for her from the jewelers.

Nicole Leguay was a Marie Antoinette look alike used in the affair of the Necklace
Nicole Leguay, prostitute

Next Jeanne induced prostitute Nicole Leguay—a Marie Antoinette look alike—to show an interest in the Cardinal and give him the forged letters. It worked. He made arrangements with the jewelers. And through Jeanne go-between Jeanne got the necklace.

It worked perfectly until the second payment for the necklace was requested and the Cardinal didn’t have it.


Louis XVI was the extravagant king prior to the French Revolution
Louis XVI

The Cardinal went to Marie Antoinette for the money. He was arrested on August 15, 1785. He got off, but his reputation ruined. Nicole Leguay was cleared. But Jeanne wasn’t. She was whipped, branded and sentenced to prostitutes’ prison. Her husband was condemned to galley ships for life. And Villette was banished from France.

1,600,000 livres diamond necklace
1,600,000 livres diamond necklace

The necklace disappeared. Eventually Jeanne made her escape from prison taking refuge in London and published her Mémoires.

Marie Antoinette was the extravagant queen prior to the French Revolution
Marie Antoinette

Though Marie Antoinette was innocent, her extravagant life style convinced the public of her guilt. The incident fueled the flame that sparked the 1789 French Revolution four years later.

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