Irish-born Hannah Witney served 5 years as a marine on board various ships disguised as a man. She revealed her gender in October 1761 after being picked up in Plymouth by a press-gang and put in the town’s prison. Disgusted by the prison conditions she revealed her true identity and was released. She told the shocked prison guard that she would not have revealed her gender if not for being captured by the press-gang and thrown in prison.
Convicted murderer James Reilly was hanged in Kilmainham prison, Dublin, on 2nd of September 1893 – 32 years after he had been born there; he had come into the world inside its walls while his mother was serving a sentence for theft. He drew his last breath in the prison where he had first seen the light of day.
While browsing through The Book of Greek & Roman Folktales, Legends & Myths, edited, translated and introduced by William Hansen. I found a name staring up at me that you would not expect to see staring up at you from a book on Greek myths, Betty Crocker.
There is story in the book about how the wealthy citizens of Kroton commissioned Zeuxis to create a number of paintings for the temple of Hera. Zeuxis wanted to create a painting of Helen of Troy, famous for her beauty:
So he asked for the people to send him their most beautiful women and he selected five of them to be his model for the painting selecting their best features to form a collage of Helen. A similar story lies behind the image of the cook and food expert Betty Crocker, an artist created a face for Betty Crocker in 1939 by blending features of the women in General Mill’s Home Service Department into a single portrait.
The image has been updated many times since, her 1996 update was a computerised composite of 75 women who met the characteristics of the ideal Betty Crocker. It is interesting to see how the images act as a barometer of change too, with Betty becoming younger and more professional looking. The more recent image has acquired a slightly ethnic look: