"Who am I?"
Set by Maya Davis
Identify the following famous people from the potted biographical clues. All are dead.
1. During my time in the convent I joined at the age of 15, I wrote about science and
medical topics as well as religious ones, discussing at length the importance of the
use of hops in brewing beer. But I’m better known for my musicianship and myspiritual life. Hildegard of Bingen
2. A former teacher, examiner and official at an examination board, I set crosswords under the pseudonym Codex. I’m most famous for my crime novels. Colin Dexter
3. Until I inherited my better-known title from my father, I was plain old Pierre de Frédy, a Law graduate of ‘Sciences Po’ in Paris. My interest in the role of sport in education, enhanced by a visit to a famous English public school, led me to revive an ancient Greek sporting event. Baron Pierre de Coubertin
4. Although I was born in Jamaica, my father was a Scotsman called James Grant. During the Crimean War I nursed injured soldiers in a facility I established near Balaclava. I’m better known under my married name. Mary Seacole
5. The sentence imposed on me by the Inquisition for publishing the result of my astronomical observations was revoked by Pope John Paul II in 1992. Galileo Galilei
6. Although an essential piece of safety equipment for seafarers is named after me, there’s no evidence that I was ever a passenger in a lifeboat. But I could come up with famous sexual innuendos both off and on screen. Why not pay me a visit? Mae West
7. I famously escaped from my enemies by sea, disguised as a ladies’ maid called ‘Betty Burke’. Some would say that wasn’t the first time I’d pretended to be someone I wasn’t, but I could have changed the course of UK history. Charles Edward Stuart, the ‘Young Pretender’ or ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’.
8. One of the casualties of the plague in London in 1543, I’m best known for the many portraits I painted – especially of a ruthless overweight man with a bad leg ulcer (and some of the famous victims of his changes of mind). Hans Holbein the Younger
9. Allegedly I was killed in Greece over 2000 years ago when an eagle dropped a tortoise on my bald head, but by then I’d written a lot of plays – only seven of which survive. Aeschylus
10. I was really good at maths and worked with the Lucasian professor of maths at Cambridge on his revolutionary invention. My poet dad probably wouldn’t have understood anything I’d written. I’ve even appeared as a character in Doctor Who. Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace.
11. I’m best known as one of the many Irishmen prominent in English theatre, with my best known satirical works still performed today. I was also a prominent Whig MP for 32 years. I lost my original seat in 1806 after the voters thought I’d insulted the local shoe trade in what I thought was a really witty toast, but managed to get elected to two other constituencies. Richard Brinsley Sheridan. (For those who are wondering about the toast – it was ‘May the trade of Stafford be trod underfoot by all the world.’ The locals didn’t get it.)
12. My main claim to fame is a series of children’s books about an elephant, and I’m glad my son carried on writing about my hero after my death. I wasn’t really wellknown in English speaking countries until A. A. Milne intervened and persuaded my publishers to bring the books out in English. Jean de Brunhoff, creator of Babar the little elephant.
13. Two of my compositions, a light opera called Daisy and an oratorio called Dorothea, were favourably received but nobody remembers them now. But lots ofpeople know what I looked like from the neck up – they can see my bust in August and September. Sir Henry Wood, whose bust is displayed during the Proms.
14. My first husband was a French Duke who became King of France. My second husband was King of England, as were both my sons. I acted as regent for my older son during the Crusades. Having led a couple of armies myself, I’d probably have made a better commander than either of my sons. My second marriage was in part the subject of a successful film. Eleanor of Aquitaine.
15. I qualified as a doctor, but my patients were probably relieved that they didn’t get to see me much. I seem to have spent most of my time wearing white and either throwing or walloping a ball. That’s probably why I never had time to shave. W. G. Grace
16. I succeeded my father as Emperor in 1627. I wasn’t actually much good at keeping my empire intact, and I’m far better known for a very personal project -probably the most photogenic building in the world. Shah Jahan
17. Born in Kent, I had a colourful life and spent time both in what was then Surinam and, after my husband’s death, in the Netherlands. My time in Surinam is featured in my best-known novel but during my life I was more famous – or should that be notorious? – for my work as a spy and my very raunchy plays. Aphra Behn
18. A letter some people claim I wrote may have changed the course of Britishpolitics. Certainly it was one weapon used against a Labour government during an election campaign in the early 20th century. Grigori Zinoviev
19. Unusually literate for a respectable young lady in 18th century Virginia, I was married twice and outlived both of my husbands as well as my four children by my first husband. Nobody much remembers my first husband – he was very rich but not very important. Thanks to my second husband, I was sometimes nicknamed ‘Lady Presidentess.’ The more official ‘Flotus’ didn’t come in till later. Martha Washington
20. Given that Shakespeare, many Commedia dell’ Arte actors and Talbot Rothwell have all adapted my plays, I’m surprised nobody knows much about my life.Maybe, like most of my main characters, I was just a slave. And, like everyone else the world at the time, I didn’t speak EnglishPlautus