Dictionary of World Biography
Waals, Johannes Diderik van der (1837–1923). Dutch chemist. Poverty delayed his progress so much that his doctoral dissertation was not published until 1873. In one of the most important papers of its kind ever published he pointed the way to all modern methods of gas liquefaction. Receiving immediate academic appreciation he became (1877) professor of physics at Amsterdam, where he had a great reputation as a teacher. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics (1910).
Wagner, (Wilhelm) Richard (1813–1883). German operatic composer, born at Leipzig. His father Friedrich, an actuary, died in 1813 and his mother married the actor and painter Ludwig Geyer, leading to speculation about his paternity. He grew up in Dresden, returning to Leipzig in 1827 where he attended the Nikolaischule and studied with Christian Weinlig, cantor of the Thomaskirche, J. S. *Bach’s old job. His musical career started unhappily with immature compositions and ill paid conductorships of small orchestras, e.g. at Königsberg and Riga. In 1836 he married the actor Minna (Wilhelmine) Planer (1809–1866) and their relationship was marked by frequent separation and misunderstanding. (There were no children.) In Paris (1839–42) he was forced to keep himself by hack-work while trying to gain support for the operas he was writing. Rienzi (1842) was a great success at the Dresden opera and in 1843 Wagner became Director of the Court Orchestra. Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman, 1843) and Tannhäuser (1845) were less well received.
Wagner was now becoming involved in revolutionary politics. As a result Lohengrin, which had been written in Paris, was refused by the authorities. He supported Mikhail *Bakunin’s attempt at revolution in Dresden (1849) and, when this failed, was exiled from Saxony until 1862, taking refuge in Switzerland. *Liszt came to the rescue (1850) by staging Lohengrin at his small theatre at Weimar. Wagner conducted in London in 1855 and 1877, was received both times by Queen *Victoria and had a major success in Moscow and St Petersburg in 1864.
Wagner was shaped by many influences: Greek, Icelandic and Teutonic mythology, *Aeschylus, medieval legend, the romances of *Gottfried von Strassburg and *Wolfram von Eschenbach, *Shakespeare, *Beethoven, *Grimm’s fairy stories, *Feuerbach, *Schopenhauer, even Buddhism. By his innovations he altered the course of operatic history. In his essay, ‘The Art Work of the Future’ (1849), he propounded the idea of Gesamtkunstwerk (‘total art work’) as a synthesis of all the art forms, on a Michelangelesque scale, with music, poetry, dance, mime and scenic effects, all of equal importance, a concept that anticipates the development of cinema. He abolished the classical structure of opera with arias and recitative links and substituted a continuous dramatic narrative. Following *Weber’s practice, he broke with tradition by concentrating the thematic material in the orchestral accompaniment, Beethoven being his model for the development of this material. He went far beyond his predecessors in the expansion of orchestral resources and development of chromatic harmony. Few composers have been so slow to gain contemporary recognition or have been the subject of such bitter controversy.
In 1848 Wagner had begun working on the libretto of the cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), comprising Das Rheingold (Rhinegold, 1853–54), Die Walküre (The Valkyries, 1854–56), Siegfried (1856–57, 1869) and Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods, 1869–74). He described The Ring as a ‘stage festival play’.
The Ring is essentially symphonic, and Wagner’s argument is long and interrelated, with the orchestra playing the role of *Freud’s ‘Id’ (instinctive unconscious desires), sometimes as Greek chorus. The text (short fluid lines without rhyme) and music are seamlessly integrated. Jean *Cocteau described Wagner as writing ‘music for the entrails’ and he often seems to bypass the brain and go straight to the viscera. His psychological insights foreshadowed Freud to an uncanny degree. His use of a recurrent theme (leitmotiv—‘leading motif’) to denote a person (for example, Siegfried), place (Valhalla) or a concept (Redemption), gives the drama unparalleled intensity and evokes powerful instinctive reactions.
In The Ring, unlike the operas of *Mozart, *Rossini, *Verdi, *Bizet, or *Puccini, it is rare to have individual choruses, solos, duets, trios, and so on, which lead to tumultuous applause, stop the action on stage, and can be performed as excerpts in concerts or on records. Wagner has more in common with Shakespeare and *Strindberg: his context is central, not showstoppers such as ‘Nessun dorma’ or ‘The toreador’s song’.
The heavy mythology and cast of gods and demi-gods are only metaphors: The Ring’s gods are not transcendental—their characteristics are exaggeratedly human. The subject matter of the tetralogy is making sense of human existence with the struggle for self-understanding and fulfilment in a materialist, post-religious age, confronting the problems of hatred, violence, greed, pain, fear, frustration, duty, failed marriage and unattainable love. Ultimately, the world of the gods is destroyed. Humans have to create a new world.
The Ring works its way through gigantic themes: love v. power/wealth, love v. law, man v. nature, being divine v. being human, feeling v. understanding, sexual taboos. The tenderness of Wagner’s depiction of the desperate needs and frailty of humans is compelling, but his work depicts power, violence and rage as well.
Having completed the first two operas and part of Siegfried he interrupted the enterprise to write Tristan und Isolde (1859), a story of doomed love, the conflict between passion and duty, set in Brittany. Wagner created a new sound with the ‘Tristan chord’ (F, B, D#, G#) which begins the work and recurs constantly. Isolde’s ‘Liebestod’ (‘Love Death’), which closes the opera, has an incandescent beauty. Even for Tristan there were long and daunting delays before the enthusiasm of King *Ludwig of Bavaria enabled it to take place in Munich in 1865.
Since The Ring would require a special theatre for its performance, Wagner knew that production must be distant, and he was always in debt. Tristan was followed by Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Mastersingers, 1868), the complex story of a 16th-century song contest in Nuremberg, involving the politics of art and the role of professional guilds, also written to promote German national sentiment in music and as a strong rejection of the French operatic tradition. These two operas were conducted by Hans von *Bülow. Cosima Wagner (née de Flavigny, later known as Cosima Liszt) (1837–1930), daughter of Liszt and Countess Marie d’Agoult, was married to von Bülow but had two daughters by Wagner, and lived with him at Tribschen, near Lucerne, from 1868. The birth of their son Siegfried (1869–1930) was celebrated by the Siegfried Idyll for orchestra. They married in 1870 and lived at ‘Wahnfried’, Bayreuth from 1872.
Wagner created a new sensory ambience at his Festspielhaus (Festival Theatre) in Bayreuth, which he planned in detail to be equipped by its size and mechanical arrangements to house the production of The Ring, with all the lavish scenic effects, aerial flights and elaborate transformations in which he took such delight. With the help of *Nietzsche and others he succeeded, and it was opened in 1876 with the production of the whole Ring cycle. The listener/observer/participant is placed in the womb-like dark while the orchestral sound, sets and lighting create an emotional world, an all-enveloping environment. Wagnerian sound, style and use of the leitmotiv influenced cinema profoundly.
Parsifal (1882), Wagner’s last opera, based on Parzival, a 13th-century epic poem by *Wolfram von Eschenbach, was described as Ein Bühnenweihfestspiel (‘A Festival Play for the Consecration of the Stage’) and until 1914 operatic performances were embargoed outside Bayreuth. (However, the New York Met defied the ban in 1903.) Parsifal, set in the castle of Montsalvat in northern Spain, is the most ambiguous of Wagner’s operas and perhaps the most beautifully scored. It uses Christian symbolism obliquely and its major themes are innocence and redemption. Parsifal (tenor), for whom the opera is named, is a ‘perfect fool, enlightened by compassion’, with the shortest singing role of any major character. Gurnemanz (bass), a venerable knight, has the longest role, essentially as narrator.
Montsalvat is the sanctuary for the Holy Grail and, until it was stolen by the evil, self-castrated, magician Klingsor, the ‘holy spear’ which pierced Christ’s side. Amfortas, leader of the Montsalvat knights, is seduced by the mysterious Kundry, a female equivalent of the Wandering Jew, loses the spear and receives an agonising wound that will not heal. Kundry is Wagner’s most complex character with seven different aspects in her nature. Parsifal, who resists Kundry, retrieves the spear, uses it to heal Amfortas and succeeds him as leader of the knights.
Wagner died suddenly at the Palazzo Vendramin-Calergi in Venice, not yet 70, and was buried at Bayreuth. His character was deeply unattractive: he was egotistical and disloyal; he lived on friends, whom he often alienated by ingratitude; he was sybaritic and extravagant. He kept his first wife in a torment of jealousy (e.g. of Mathilde Wesendonck, who inspired his Isolde). He gave genius a bad name. He was deeply anti-Semitic, although Jews had been among his strongest artistic and financial supporters. However, The Mastersingers contains ample evidence of the humour, humanity and attractive high spirits to which contemporary accounts bear witness.
Cosima Wagner directed the Bayreuth Festival Theatre until 1906, when Siegfried, a moderately gifted composer and conductor, succeeded. On his death in 1930 the directorship passed to his widow Winifred (née Williams) (1897–1980), an English born traditionalist and *Hitler sympathiser. (Hitler identified himself with Bayreuth and the Wagner family.)
After World War II, the Bayreuth Festival was revived by the sons of Siegfried and Winifred Wagner. Wieland (1917–1966), a producer and stage designer and Wolfgang (1919–2010) were joint directors 1951–66, and Wolfgang was sole director 1967–2008. Wieland’s austere, anti-romantic productions were controversial and his work has been abandoned at Bayreuth but retained at Stuttgart.
Magee, B., Aspects of Wagner. 1988; Millington, B. (ed.), The Wagner Compendium. 1992; Müller, U. and Wapnewski, P., Wagner Handbook. 1992; Conrad, P., Verdi and/or Wagner: Two Men, Two Worlds, Two Centuries. 2011.
Wagner-Jauregg, Julius (1857–1940). Austrian neurologist. He graduated in medicine at Vienna University and quickly rose to become a professor at Graz (1889). His early work was largely concerned with thyroid deficiency. He also made the controversial proposal that to prevent cretinism iodine should be introduced compulsorily into the manufacture of common salt. His later work was concerned with the treatment of psychotic ailments by fevers artificially produced. Among the various fever-producing agents tested, tuberculin was used with success in the treatment of general paralysis of the insane. During World War I, however, he coped with this disease more effectively by inoculating patients with benign tertian malaria. For his researches in this field he won the Nobel Prize for Medicine (1927).
Wahhabi, Muhammad Ibn Abd al- (1703–1792). Arab theologian and religious leader. He founded a militant sect, fundamentalist, puritan and deeply hostile to the Shiites. Wahhabism is the dominant Muslim influence in Saudi Arabia.
Wahid, Abdurrahman (widely known as Gus Dur—‘elder brother’) (1940–2009). Indonesian politician. A Muslim cleric, tolerant and pluralistic, he was Leader of Nahdlutah Ulama (NU). Despite suffering from strokes and partial blindness, he was elected as President of Indonesia 1999 until impeached by the People’s Consultative Assembly and removed (July 2001). *Megawati Soekarnoputri replaced him.
Wajda, Andrzej (1926–2016). Polish film director. His many films included Man of Iron (1981), Miss Nobody (1996) and Katyń (2001).
Wakefield, Edward Gibbon (1796–1862). English colonial theorist, born in London. After holding diplomatic posts in Turin and Paris, he was imprisoned in Newgate (1827–30) for abducting an heiress, and while there studied colonial government and outlined his views in A Letter from Sydney (1829). He proposed ‘systematic colonisation’ by free settlers (no convicts) with some capital, land to be sold at a ‘sufficient price’ to ensure that labourers did not buy their own farms until they had accumulated assets. To test his theories the South Australia Association was formed to found a new colony in that area, but before this had taken place (1836) Wakefield ended his connexion with the promoters. He formed (1837) a similar Association (which became chartered company in 1841) for the colonisation of New Zealand. In 1838 he went with Lord *Durham to Canada to advise on the use of crown lands and was elected to the Lower Canada House of Assembly (1842). In 1839 he had encouraged the dispatch of the first group of setters to New Zealand. In 1849 his book A View of the Art of Colonisation appeared. Meanwhile settlements had been made in New Zealand under the auspices of the Company and in 1852, after a constitution had been enacted, he went there himself. He was a member of the first assembly of 1854 and died in Wellington. *Marx cited Wakefield in Das Kapital.
Waksman, Selman Abraham (1888–1973). American microbiologist, born in Ukraine. A naturalised American from 1916, he was professor of microbiology at Rutgers University, New Jersey 1930–56. After examining a great many microscopic organisms from soil, he isolated two powerful antibiotics (a term of his coinage)—the highly toxic antimycin (1941) and, relying on the research of Albert *Schatz, streptomycin (1943) which was effective in treating tuberculosis. He was assiduous in denying any credit to Schatz and won the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine (1952) as the sole discoverer of streptomycin.
Waksman, S. A., My Life with the Microbes. 1954.
Walcott, Derek Alton (1930–2017). St Lucian poet and playwright. Professor of English at Boston University 1981–2007, his Homeric epic poem Omeros (1990) describes the impact of European conquest on indigenous culture and helped win him the Nobel Prize for Literature in the Columbus quincentenary year 1992.
Waldheim, Kurt Josef (1918–2007). Austrian diplomat. Although his father was anti-Nazi, Waldheim joined the SA and lied about the extent of his service in World War II, including intelligence work in the Balkans. In 1945, he entered the foreign service and became counsellor and head of the personnel division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1951–55. He was an observer or representative to the UN 1955–56, 1964–68 and 1970–71. In 1960–64, he served as Director-General of Political Affairs at the Austrian foreign ministry, and was Minister for Foreign Affairs 1968–70. As Secretary-General of the United Nations 1972–81, his leadership over two terms was ineffectual. He was elected President of Austria 1986–92 after a bitter election campaign, in which his wartime record and complicity in anti-Semitism aroused international criticism, and some official boycotts.
Waldo, Peter (or Pierre) (d.1210?). French religious reformer. A rich merchant of Lyons, he gave up his wealth and formed a band of itinerant preachers. His followers (known as ‘the Poor Men of Lyons’ or the Waldenses), rejected the sacramental claims of the priesthood and said that every man may exercise priestly functions if moved by the spirit. The sect was rigorously but intermittently persecuted by popes and rulers throughout history (e.g. in 1655, provoking Milton’s sonnet ‘Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints’), but it has survived in isolated parts of France and Italy.
Waldseemller, Martin (c.1470–1521). German cartographer. In 1507, in Dieppe, he published a world map that clearly identified a New World, distinct from Asia and first used the name America (for South America), from the navigator Amerigo *Vespucci. By 1513 he had concluded that Vespucci’s claim to priority was exaggerated but it was too late to substitute Columbus’s name.
Wales, Jimmy Donal (1966– ). American internet entrepreneur, born in Alabama. Educated in Alabama and Indiana, he worked in Chicago, and later relocated to London. In 2001, assisted by Larry Sanger, he founded Wikipedia, a free online encyclopaedia, far larger, more comprehensive (and controversial) than any other reference works, and which has essentially put traditional encyclopaedias (such as Encyclopedia Britannica) out of business.
Wałęsa, Lech (1943– ). Polish politician and trade union leader. A shipyard worker from Gdansk (formerly Danzig), a practising Catholic and Polish nationalist, Wałęsa was sacked in 1976 for his anti-government activity. He became a co-founder in 1978 of the Baltic Free Trade Unions, an underground movement. In 1980 he led a strike of shipyard workers in Gdansk which aroused massive public support and international sympathy, and led to the founding of the independent trade movement, ‘Solidarity’, which sought significant political concessions from the Polish Government. The imposition of martial law in December 1981 led to Wałęsa’s arrest and imprisonment for 11 months. He was awarded the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize, elected as President of Poland 1990–95 but defeated by Aleksander *Kwaśniewski in November 1995. His name is pronounced ‘Varwensa’.
Walewski, Alexandre Florian Joseph Colonna, Comte (1810–1868). French diplomat, born in Walewice. Son of *Napoléon I and his Polish mistress Marie Walewska, he served under his cousin *Napoléon III as Ambassador in London 1851–52, Foreign Minister 1855–60, Minister of State 1860–63 and finally President of the Legislative Assembly 1865–68.
Waley, Arthur David (original name A. D. Schloss) (1889–1966). English orientalist and poet. Although he never visited China or Japan, he published outstanding translations of Chinese and Japanese classics, notably The Tale of Genji (1925–33) by *Murasaki Shikubu, and received the CH in 1956.
Wallace, Alfred Russel (1823–1913). English naturalist, explorer, geographer, social activist, born in Wales. Trained as a surveyor and builder, he turned to natural history and explored with Henry William Bates (1825–1892) the Amazon basin (1848–50) but his collections were lost in a shipwreck on the way home. He investigated (1854–62) animal and plant life in the Malay archipelago. Influenced by *Malthus, but independently of *Darwin, to whom he communicated his ideas, he developed the theory of natural selection. Their joint work was read to the Linnean Society in 1858. Their views were not, however, identical. Wallace did not believe, for example, that natural selection alone could explain such changes as the loss of human hair. He thought too that the male adornments required to provoke sexual selection by animals would conflict with other requirements for the ‘survival of the fittest’ by natural selection. In 1859 he proposed what is still called ‘Wallace’s Line’, the faunal boundary between Southeast Asia and Australia, running through Indonesia and wrote the important treatise The Geographical Distribution of Animals (1876). He campaigned for socialism and spiritualism and, oddly, against vaccination. A pioneer of bio-geography, he became preoccupied with human activity as a factor in environmental degradation, such as deforestation and soil erosion, and wrote about the possibility of life on other planets. He was awarded the first Darwin Medal (1890), elected FRS in 1893, received the Copley Medal (1908) and the OM (1908).
Severin, T., The Spice Islands Voyage. 1997; Fichman, M., An Elusive Victorian: The Evolution of Alfred Russel Wallace. 2004.
Wallace, David Foster (1962–2008). American novelist, short story wrier and essayist, born in Ithaca, New York. He grew up in Illinois. His novels The Broom of the South (1987), Infinite Jest (1996) and The Pale King (incomplete, published 2011) are marked by irony masking deep despair and he became a cult figure. He hanged himself.
Max, D. T., Every Love Story is a Ghost Story. 2012.
Wallace, (Richard Horatio) Edgar (1875–1932). English author. An orphan, brought up in poverty, he joined the army and later became a sporting journalist. An immense literary output, mainly of thrillers, include the bestselling novels The Four Just Men (1905) and Sanders of the River (1911), and successful plays, e.g. The Ringer and On the Spot.
Wallace, George Corley (1919–1998). American politician. An army sergeant in World War II, he then took a law degree from Alabama University. As Governor of Alabama 1963–67 and 1971–75, he became a notorious opponent of desegregation. Nominally a Democrat, he backed Barry *Goldwater for president in 1964. His wife Lurline Wallace succeeded him as Governor (1967), but died in office (1968). As presidential candidate of the American Independent Party in 1968 he polled 13.5 per cent of the vote and won five states in the South. In May 1972 he was shot in Washington DC, by Arthur Bremer, and paralysed, but in 1982 he won election for a third term as Governor of Alabama 1983–87.
Wallace, Henry Agard (1888–1965). American politician, born in Iowa. His grandfather, also Henry Wallace (1836–1916), founded the journal Wallaces’ Farmer (1895); his father, Henry Cantwell Wallace (1866–1924), succeeded as editor and served as US Secretary of Agriculture 1921–24. H. A. Wallace also edited Wallaces’ Farmer (1924–33) and developed high-yielding strains of hybrid corn (maize). Franklin D. *Roosevelt appointed him Secretary of Agriculture 1933–41, and he was Vice President of the US 1941–45, but lost the 1944 nomination to *Truman because major party figures were apprehensive that Roosevelt would soon die (as he did). Wallace was Secretary of Commerce 1945–48 until dismissed by President Truman for attacking the government’s foreign policy. He ran unsuccessfully for the presidency (1948) as candidate for the Progressive Party which, in 1950, he denounced as a Communist front.
Wallace, Lew(is) (1827–1905). American soldier and author. He served in the Civil War as a Major General, was Governor of New Mexico 1878–81 and Minister to Turkey 1881–85. He is remembered, however, as author of the novel Ben Hur (1880), set in the time of Christ. It was one of the most successful books ever published, and the basis of several lavish films.
Wallace, Sir William (c.1274–1305). Scottish patriot. He emerged from obscurity as the leader of the Scottish national resistance to the pretensions of the English king, *Edward I. After early successes he inflicted a major defeat on an English army at Stirling Bridge (1297) and, advancing rapidly, devastated England’s border counties. Against this threat Edward moved in person and gained a decisive victory at Falkind (1298). For a short time Wallace maintained a guerrilla struggle before making his way to France, where he tried to enlist support, and possibly visiting Rome. He was back in Scotland in 1303 but was betrayed (1305) to the English by Sir John Menteith, taken to London and hanged, drawn and quartered.
Wallenberg, Raoul (1912–1947). Swedish diplomat. He served in Hungary from July 1944 and was responsible for saving the lives of 70,000 Jews. He was taken prisoner by the Russians in January 1945 and disappeared. Following reports that he was still alive, an international ‘Free Wallenberg’ campaign was mounted. KGB archives, released in 1992, indicated that Wallenberg had died violently, in custody, in 1947.
Bierman, J., Righteous Gentile. 1981.
Wallenstein (or Waldstein), Albrecht Eusebius Wenzel von, Duke of Friedland and Mecklenburg and Prince of Sagan (1583–1634). Bohemian soldier. He came of a noble Czech family, and added to his family wealth by marrying a rich widow. Converted from Protestantism to Catholicism, he raised troops privately in support of the cause of the emperor *Ferdinand II in Bohemia against *Friedrich of the Palatinate at the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War. From the land of the defeated Protestant nobles he added still further to his own estates until his duchy of Friedland (he became Duke in 1623) became an almost independent state. In 1625 he was made Imperial Commander-in-Chief, quickly restored the situation in Hungary and Silesia, and advanced to the Baltic, gaining the duchy of Mecklenburg as a reward. Held up, however, by the siege of Stralsund and unable to carry out his intention of building a fleet he made peace with the Danes. Meanwhile his arrogance and his pretensions to act as a separate ruler roused jealousy of the traditional Catholic nobility, and in 1630 Ferdinand found himself compelled to dismiss him. Wallenstein retired to his duchy of Friedland, but the emperor, dismayed by the victorious campaign of *Gustaf II of Sweden, was forced to recall Wallenstein, who after preliminary success in Bohemia and Saxony was defeated by the Swedes at Lutzen (1632). Defeat was more than compensated for by Gustaf’s death. In 1633 Wallenstein was strangely inactive, he was negotiating both with Catholics and Protestants, with the probable aim of imposing a peace which, under nominal imperial rule, would leave him supreme. Ferdinand, aware of these manoeuvres, had already signed an order of dismissal when Wallenstein was murdered by a group of officers.
Mann, G., Wallenstein. 1976.
Waller, Edmond (1606–1687). English poet. Related to John *Hampden and Oliver *Cromwell, his wealth, already considerable, was increased when he married an heiress (1631). After her death (1634) he courted without success Lady Dorothy Sidney (the ‘Sacharissa’ of his poems). He served as MP 1621–43, 1661–87. After joining the opposition, he veered in his allegiance and engineered the ‘Waller plot’ to enable *Charles I to seize London (1643). For this he was banished, but in 1651 was reconciled with Cromwell, to whom he wrote a panegyric. He contrived to remain in favour under *Charles II. As a poet he was important for the development of the heroic couplet but is better remembered for such charming lyrics as Go Lovely Rose.
Chernaik, W. L., The Poetry of Limitation: A Study of Waller. 1968.
Waller, ‘Fats’ (Thomas Wright) (1904–1943). American jazz composer and pianist, born in New York City. He influenced jazz technique, especially ‘stride’ piano playing. His best known numbers are Ain’t Misbehavin, Honeysuckle Rose and Squeeze Me.
Kirkeby, E., Ain’t Misbehaving. 1966.
Waller, Sir William (c.1597–1668). English soldier. He served in the Thirty Years’ War and fought for parliament in the English Civil War, but after a series of successes in the south and west, was defeated at Roundway Down (July 1643). Convinced that the latter was due to the unreliability of his troops, he helped to found the New Model army (*Cromwell), but as an MP surrendered his command (1645) under the Self-denying Ordinance. As a Presbyterian he opposed Cromwell and the army extremists: he favoured a settlement with *Charles I, and later conspired for *Charles II’s return.
Adair, J., Roundhead General. 1969.
Wallis, Sir Barnes Neville (1887–1979). British aeronautical engineer. He trained as a marine engineer and later became designer in the airship department of Vickers Ltd. He designed the airship R100 but is most remembered for the bouncing bombs used against the Möhne and Eder dams during World War II. At the time of his death he was working on a square-shaped aeroplane capable of 5000 mph (8500 kph).
Morpurgo, J. E., Barnes Wallis: A Biography. 1972.
Wallis, John (1616–1703). English mathematician, born in Ashford, Kent. Educated at Cambridge, he studied medicine but was ordained as a clergyman. Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford 1649–1703, his most important work is the Arithmetica infinitorum (1655) which paved the way for the introduction of calculus and the binomial theorem. He introduced negative indices and our present symbol for infinity ∞ (the lemniscate). He was an expert in cryptography and had an astounding memory. Among many other works he wrote Treatise of Algebra (1685). He was among the founders of the Royal Society and collaborated with Isaac *Newton.
Walpole, Horace, 4th Earl of Orford (1717–1797). English connoisseur, art historian and man of letters, born in London. Fourth son of Sir Robert *Walpole, at Cambridge he became a friend of the poet Thomas *Gray, with whom he made the ‘grand tour’ of Europe. He was an MP 1741–68, obtained several sinecure offices, but took no active part in politics. In 1747 he bought a house near Twickenham and devoted many years to transforming it into the fanciful ‘little Gothic castle’ of Strawberry Hill; he spent most of the rest of his life there, establishing a private press. His letters, witty, graceful and with a love of gossip, are now regarded as his most important literary work. They provide a valuable firsthand account of polite society and of such events as the Gordon riots. Though clearly intended for publication, they reveal, none the less, a warm and affectionate disposition. Of his other writings the most famous is The Castle of Otranto (1764), an early and influential ‘Gothic novel’. In 1791 he inherited the earldom from his nephew. He invented the term ‘serendipity’.
Lewis, W. S., Horace Walpole. 1961.
Walpole, Sir Hugh Seymour (1884–1941). English novelist, playwright and critic, born in Auckland. Son of an Anglican bishop, he was educated at Cambridge University, and achieved early success with Mr Perrin and Mr Traill (1911), a psychological study of a schoolmaster. He served with the Red Cross in Russia 1914–17 and The Dark Forest (1916) courageously revealed his homosexuality. He had an unrequited passion for the Wagnerian tenor Lauritz *Melchior. He wrote 40 more novels including The Cathedral (1922), Portrait of a Man with Red Hair (1925), Rogue Herries (1930) and John Cornelius (1937), studies of *Scott, *Trollope and *Conrad and much criticism. He was satirised as Alroy Kear in *Maugham’s Cakes and Ale.
Walpole, Robert, 1st Earl of Orford (1676–1745). English Whig politician, born in Houghton Hall, Norfolk. Third son of a Norfolk landowner, after the death of his brothers the inheritance came to him. Educated at Eton and King’s College, Cambridge, he was an MP 1701–12, 1713–42, then created Earl of Orford. Under Queen *Anne, he was War Secretary 1708–10 and Treasurer to the Navy 1710, but resigned with his colleagues when the Tories came to power (1710) and he had to await the accession of *George I before returning to office. He was First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer 1715–17, 1721–42, sharing leadership with his brother-in-law Viscount *Townshend until 1730, then Prime Minister in all but name. (The king was frequently absent, English politics bored him and he spoke the language poorly: all three factors aided development of the Cabinet system.) Walpole was little interested in foreign affairs and left the handling of them to the King and Lord *Townshend while he concerned himself with the domestic situation. After Townshend’s retirement (1730) his position was even stronger and he had powerful support from Queen *Caroline. In 1721 he handled the South Sea Bubble crisis coolly and thereafter, in a long period of peace, built up British prosperity by retrenchment (involving a dangerous neglect of the armed services), by establishing a sinking fund and by lightening taxation. He kept control of parliament by the traditional method of bribery (‘every man has his price’), the awarding of honours and contracts, with subtlety and skill. Jealousy made him secure his own position by keeping potential rivals, e.g. *Carteret, in the background. A Cabinet of second-raters was the inevitable result. Consistently isolationist, he tried to keep Britain out of European wars by a policy of appeasement. The ‘War of Jenkins’ Ear’ broke out with Spain in 1739, leading on to the War of Austrian Succession in 1742; he opposed both. He resigned after a hostile vote (1742) and retired from politics. Even *Macaulay, who praised his ‘prudence, steadiness and vigilance’ admitted that ‘he was content to meet daily emergencies by daily expedients’. His major collection of paintings was sold to *Catherine the Great and became part of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.
Plumb, J. H., Sir Robert Walpole. Vol 1. 1956; Vol 2. 1961.
Walpurga (or Walburga) St (d.c.780). English abbess, born in Wessex. With her brothers (St) Willibald and (St) Winebald, she founded a double monastery at Heidenheim, now in Baden-Würrtemberg. She was confused with Waldburg, a fertility goddess, and the eve of 1 May, ‘Walpurgis night’, is, according to German legend, a time when witches hold their sabbaths and sacrifice to the Devil.
Walser, Robert (1878–1956). Swiss novelist, short story writer and poet, born in Biel. He worked as a clerk and had long periods of illness and isolation. His short stories have a hallucinatory quality and were admired by *Kafka, *Hesse and *Sebald. His works were first translated into English only in the 1970s and The Assistant (tr. 2007), The Tanners (tr. 2009), and Berlin Stories (tr. 2012) are good ones to start with.
Walsingham, Sir Francis (1530?–1590). English diplomat and Secretary of State. He lived abroad to escape the troubles of *Mary’s reign but, when *Elizabeth succeeded, his abilities were discovered by *Burghley and in 1570 he was sent as Ambassador to Paris. After his return he was appointed Secretary of State (1573). His main task was to gain information of links between the powers on the Continent and Roman Catholic conspirators in England, whose object was to murder or dethrone Elizabeth and replace her by *Mary Queen of Scots. To achieve this he maintained a body of spies which (though far from being comparable to a modern secret service) kept him closely informed of the comings and goings of conspirators. Letters were intercepted and decoded but subsequently delivered to give a feeling of false security to his victims, which enabled him to arrest them at their most unguarded moments. Exposure of the *Babington plot which clearly implicated Mary and led to her execution was among his notable successes. Walsingham was a patron of arts and letters and supported voyages of exploration and colonisation but was so ill rewarded that he died in poverty.
Walter, Bruno (Bruno Walter Schlesinger) (1876–1962). German-Jewish-American conductor, born in Berlin. Trained as a pianist, he conducted at the Vienna Imperial Opera 1901–12 as a protégé of *Mahler whose Das Lied von der Erde (1911) and Symphony No. 9 (1912) he premiered. General music director at the Munich Opera 1913–22 and the Gewandhaus Orchestra, Leipzig 1929–33, he left Nazi Germany for Austria, where he helped to shape the character of the Salzburg Festival and became artistic adviser to the Vienna State Opera. On the annexation of Austria by Germany (1938), he sought refuge in Paris and then in the US, where he became a citizen in 1946. Walter’s repertoire was wide but he excelled in interpretations of *Mozart and Mahler. He promoted the career of Kathleen *Ferrier and made outstanding recordings with her.
Walter, John (1739–1812). English publisher. Having acquired a printing office (1784) he founded the Daily Universal Register (1785) which he renamed (1788) The Times. Under his younger son, John Walter II (1776–1847), it developed into a great national newspaper. John Walter III (1818–1894) continued the family association.
Walter the Penniless (d.1097). Burgundian knight. With *Peter the Hermit, he led the march across Europe of the enthusiastic but undisciplined body that set out in advance of the organised armies for the 1st Crusade. Having crossed the Bosphorus they were all but wiped out by the Turks at Nicaea.
Walther von der Vogelweide (c.1170–1230). German minnesinger. The greatest of medieval German lyric poets, after several vicissitudes at the court of Vienna he became (c.1215) court minstrel to the emperor *Friedrich II, who rewarded him with an estate. As well as songs, he wrote maxims which have a strong political flavour. He enriched the art of the troubadour by introducing into his songs not only the conventional gallantries of courtly love but the more natural affections of the less high-born.
Taylor, R. J., The Art of the Minnesinger. 1968.
Walton, Izaak (1593–1683). English author. As the owner of a shop in Chancery Lane he came to know John *Donne, in whose parish it was. Thus brought into contact with ecclesiastical and literary circles, he was asked by Sir Henry *Wotton to collect material for a preface to a proposed biography of Donne. This started him on a literary career that led to his writing biographies of Donne, *Wotton, *Hooker, *Herbert and Bishop Sanderson. In 1644 Walton retired to rural Clerkenwell and there wrote The Compleat Angler (1653, enlarged 1655), a rhapsody on the joys of fishing (with concealed advice for living in troubled times), containing verses, anecdotes and pastoral descriptions.
Bottrall, M., Izaak Walton. 1955.
Walton, Sir William Turner (1902–1983). English composer, born in Oldham, Lancashire. As a chorister of Christ Church, Oxford, he received some formal training of his precocious talent. The early Façade (1923), a setting for reciter and chamber ensemble of poems by Edith *Sitwell, was suffused with a wit that dominates the overture Portsmouth Point (1926) and the outer movements of the Sinfonia Concertante (1928 revised 1943). In the Viola Concerto (1929), probably his masterpiece, the wit deepens into a violence that contrasts with a new vein of romantic melancholy, a change of mood that was to become characteristic. The cantata Belshazzar’s Feast (1931) is notable for the savagely brilliant orchestration, representing the sufferings of the exiled Jews, and for choral writing of Handelian splendour. This was followed by the Symphony No. 1 (1935) and the Violin Concerto (1939). A String Quartet (1947) and a Violin Sonata (1950) preceded the unsuccessful opera Troilus and Cressida (1954), Symphony No. 2 (1960) and Variations on a theme by Hindemith (1963). He composed music for films, e.g. Laurence *Olivier’s Henry V, Hamlet and Richard III, and two coronations, Crown Imperial (1937) and Te Deum (1953). Later works include a comic opera The Bear (after *Chekhov, 1967), a Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. Knighted in 1951, he received the OM in 1968. He lived in Ischia from 1956 and died there.
Walton, S., William Walton: Behind the Façade. 1988.
Wan Li (1916–2015). Chinese government official. A teacher, he became an administrator in the CCP, worked with *Zhou Enlai and *Deng Xiaoping, was persecuted 1966–73 during the Cultural Revolution, restored, dismissed again in 1976, and then rose steadily with Deng. He was Chairman of the Standing Committee of the 7th National People’s Congress 1988–93 and promoted non-political interests including tennis and bridge.
Wang Hongwen (1934?–1992). Chinese Communist politician. Of unknown background, he was apparently well-educated, became a textile worker and rose to power in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution. As a protégé of *Mao Zedong he was a Politburo member 1973–76 and third in the Chinese Communist Party hierarchy. He was forced out in October 1976, attacked as one of the ‘Gang of Four’, tried in 1980 and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Wang Wei (courtesy name Mojie) (701?–761). Chinese poet, musician, painter, calligrapher, born in Shanxi. An outstanding artist of the Tang dynasty, he was a Zen Buddhist and civil servant. None of his paintings survive, but 400 poems are attributed to him, the most famous being ‘Deer Park’, a beautiful but elusive quatrain. *Mahler quoted from Wang Wei in Das Lied von der Erde.
Weinberger, E., Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei. 1987/2016.
Warbeck, Perkin (c.1474–1499). English pretender to the throne, born in Flanders. He was persuaded by the Yorkists to claim that he was *Richard, Duke of York, the younger of *Edward IV’s sons believed to have been murdered in the Tower of London. In 1492 he was ‘recognised’ by Edward IV’s sister, Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy. After an unsuccessful landing at Deal, Kent (1495), he went to Ireland and then to the court of *James IV of Scotland, where he was married to Catherine Gordon, the Earl of Huntley’s daughter. He next sailed to Cornwall, failed to take Exeter by siege, fled and eventually surrendered to *Henry VII. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London and after an attempt to escape and alleged involvement in a plot with Edward, Earl of Warwick, he was tried and executed.
Warburg, Emil Gabriel (1846–1913). German physicist. He carried out extensive experimental investigations of electrical conduction in solids, liquids and gases. His work on spark discharges in rarefied gases led on to the experiments by *Franck and G. L. *Hertz on electron collisions. He later moved in the direction of photochemical studies and confirmed the fundamental law of the quantum nature of light absorption formulated by *Einstein. Warburg was a celebrated teacher. During his 10 years at the Berlin Physics Institute he trained about a fifth of the productive German physicists of the next generation. His son Otto Heinrich Warburg (1883–1970), born in Freiburg, was a chemist who became an outstanding pioneer in biochemical methodology. His work on respiration in tissues, identifying enzymes that consume oxygen and absorb light in cells, and explaining the role of haemoglobin in capturing oxygen and putting it to work, won him the 1931 Nobel Prize for Medicine. Before viruses were understood, he rejected the germ theory of cancer, identified metabolic changes as a major cause and helped to establish that vitamins are components of enzymes. He directed the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (later renamed for Max *Planck) in Berlin from 1931. Although half-Jewish, Warburg was allowed to continue his research throughout the Nazi regime but had to refuse a second Nobel Prize in 1944.
Ward, Artemus (pseudonym of Charles Farrar Browne) (1834–1867). American humorist. He was famous for his lectures in the US and England, and for his contributions, quaint and misspelled, to American and English publications, including Punch. His humour was one of the classic American variety, the shrewd plain-speaking of the ostensibly ‘simple’ man.
Ward, Sir Joseph George, 1st Baronet (1856–1930). New Zealand politician, born in North Melbourne. He was the last in the line of Liberal prime ministers who, from 1870, brought New Zealand through its great period of social and economic development. An Irish Catholic, with only primary schooling but a voracious reader, he was MP 1887–97, 1897–1919, 1925–30, surviving bankruptcy in 1897. His first term as Prime Minister 1906–12, was ended by an election defeat, but he returned (1915) to join his opponent, W. F. *Massey, in a coalition during World War I; both were present at the Paris Peace Conference (1919). They loathed each other. Ward was again Prime Minister 1928–30.
Ward, Mary Augusta (née Arnold) (known as Mrs Humphry Ward) (1851–1920). English writer, born in Tasmania. At the age of five she returned to Britain with her father, Thomas Arnold (1823–1900), brother of Matthew *Arnold, who became co-editor of the Catholic Dictionary (1883). His daughter, who married (1872) Thomas Humphry Ward, an Oxford don and art critic, was also preoccupied with religion and the best known of her books, Robert Elsmere (1888), studies the hero’s struggle with religious doubt. She was friendly with leading intellectuals and contributed to periodicals as well as writing 25 novels, three plays and nine non-fiction works. She supported higher education for women and was secretary of Somerville College, Oxford 1879–81. Although a keen social worker and one of the first seven women appointed magistrates (1920), she actively opposed women’s suffrage.
Huws Jones, E., Mrs Ward. 1973.
Warhol, Andy (1928–1987). American artist and film maker. He was a leading exponent of pop art in the 1960s using household objects, such as Campbells’ soup cans and sculptures of Brillo soap pads. He also produced multiple image photographic silk screens of subjects including Marilyn *Monroe and the electric chair. Later he made ‘underground’ films, some of which lasted as long as 25 hours. These included Chelsea Girls (1966) and Blue Movie (1969). His New York based ‘Factory’ became a fashionable studio and centre for the artistic avant-garde and eccentrics of the 60s and early 70s.
Warlock, Peter (pseudonym of Philip Arnold Heseltine) (1894–1930). English composer. A critic and editor under his family name, he became obsessed with the occult, adopting the name Warlock. He wrote a biography of *Delius, and was a friend of *Yeats and *Bartók. He composed about 150 songs, in which the predominant moods are Elizabethan jollity (many were settings of Elizabethan poems) and sensuous melancholy, e.g. The Curlew (1923), a setting for tenor and chamber ensemble for poems by Yeats. He also wrote choral and orchestral works, e.g. the Capriol Suite for strings (1926). He died of gas poisoning, a probable suicide.
Warner, Harry Morris (né Hirsz Mojżesz Wonsal) (1881–1958). American-Polish-Jewish film producer, born in Russian Poland. His father, a shoemaker, migrated to the US in 1889, then lived in Canada briefly. Harry Warner and his brothers Samuel (Szmuel), Albert (Abraham) and Jack (Jacob) formed (1923) the motion-picture company Warner Brothers. He produced (1929) The Jazz Singer, the first talking picture. Although conservative Republicans, they supported Franklin D. *Roosevelt, and produced films that mobilised public opinion against the Nazis, e.g. Casablanca (1942).
Warner, Sir Pelham Francis (1873–1963). English cricketer. As captain of Middlesex and England for many years and as one of the most attractive and informed writers on the game, he occupied an important place in the history of English cricket.
Warner, P. F., Long Innings. 1951.
Warren, David Ronald de Mey (1925–2010). Australian inventor. He studied in Sydney, Oxford and Melbourne, worked for the Australian Aeronautical Research Laboratories, and in 1953 developed a prototype of the ‘black box’, a flight data recorder, now universally adopted, but then dismissed as pointless, especially in his native land.
Warren, Earl (1891–1974). American lawyer and Republican politician. He served as Attorney-General 1939–43 and Governor 1943–53 of California. In 1948 he was Republican candidate for Vice-President, on Thomas *Dewey’s ticket, and in 1952 sought the Presidential nomination. The newly elected President *Eisenhower appointed him as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court 1953–69. His activist court made liberal decisions that changed the US far more than Congress or the presidency by ruling against segregated schools (1954), securing legal protection for accused persons, redistributing state legislative districts, striking down censorship laws, and emphasising civil liberties and the right to dissent. His commission of enquiry into President *Kennedy’s assassination (1963–64) was attacked as inadequate and its conclusions criticised. Warren was a favourite whipping boy for right-wing extremists.
White, G. E., Earl Warren. 1982.
Warren, Elizabeth Ann (née Herring) (1949– ). American Democratic politician and lawyer, born in Oklahoma. Educated at Houston and Rutgers, and originally a teacher, she became a specialist in bankruptcy law and held chairs at universities in Texas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and then Harvard. A Republican until 1996, she was a US Senator from Massachusetts 2013– . In 2016 she was encouraged to seek the Democratic Presidential nomination but backed Hillary *Clinton. She announced her candidature for 2020 in February 2019, but although passionate, articulate and intelligent, polled poorly in the primaries and withdrew in March.
Warren, Robert Penn (1905–1989). American poet, novelist and critic, born in Kentucky. He studied at Berkeley, Yale and (as a Rhodes Scholar) Oxford. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1947 for his novel, All the King’s Men (1946), based on the life of Huey *Long, and made into an award-winning film. In 1958 he won a second Pulitzer Prize for Promises: Poems 1954–56.
Warren, (John) Robin (1937– ). Australian pathologist, born in Adelaide. He shared the 2005 Nobel Prize for Medicine with Barry *Marshall for their work in identifying Helicobacter pylori as a cause of peptic ulcers.
Warwick, 1st Earl of, Richard Neville, 2nd Earl of Salisbury (known as ‘Warwick the Kingmaker’) (1428–1471). English nobleman. Son of the 1st Earl of Salisbury (d.1460), he claimed the Warwick earldom (1449) through his wife’s rights. He owned so much land and wealth that he was able to hold the balance in the Wars of the Roses. At first he joined the Yorkist faction and after the death of its leader, *Richard, Duke of York, was able (1461) to supplant *Henry VI by Richard’s son, *Edward IV. Edward was not the man, however, to submit tamely to a power behind the throne, and when Warwick secretly married (1469) his daughter Isabel to the king’s brother, the Duke of Clarence, Edward was strong enough to force Warwick and Clarence to take refuge in France, where a reconciliation took place with Margaret, *Henry VI’s queen. As champion of the Lancastrian cause Warwick now returned to England, compelled Edward in his turn to leave the country, and reinstated Henry VI. In March 1471 Edward landed in Yorkshire, was joined by his repentant brother Clarence, and met, defeated and killed Warwick at Barnet. Warwick’s younger daughter Anne Neville (1456–1485) married the future *Richard III.
Kendall, P. M., Warwick the Kingmaker. 1957.
Washington, Booker Taliaferro (1856–1915). African-American educationist, born in Virginia. By becoming (1872) a janitor at the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute he was able to work his way through the course and graduate (1875). He then began to teach, and interested himself in educational methods. In 1881 he became principal of a school for African-Americans at Tuskegee, Alabama, and made it a centre of Negro education. His writings, e.g. his autobiography Up from Slavery (1901), aimed to promote racial understanding.
Washington, George (1732–1799). 1st President of the US 1789–97. Born at Bridges Creek, Virginia, he was the eldest of his father’s six children by his second wife, there being already four children in his first family. His father was the grandson of John Washington, whose family home was at Sulgrave, Northamptonshire, England, and who had emigrated (1656/7) to Virginia, where his domains had been enlarged by his successors. After his father’s death (1743) George, then aged 11, came under the guardianship of his elder half-brother Lawrence, with whom he lived at Mount Vernon. Here he came to know Lord Fairfax and his brother, who was Lawrence’s father-in-law. The brothers took George under their wing, encouraged him to educate himself in their large library and, by sending him to survey their own outlying land, enabled him to become (1749) a public surveyor. The deaths of Lawrence (1751) and his daughter soon afterwards gave George the ownership of the Mount Vernon estate. In 1751 he had been appointed Adjutant General, with the rank of major, of the provincial militia, and in 1753 was sent on a dangerous mission (described in his Journey to the Ohio) to the French commander, 600 miles distant, to warn him against encroachments upon British territory. The warning being disregarded, Washington accompanied General Braddock on the disastrous expedition of 1755 and showed great skill in rallying the routed survivors. On his return he was given command of all the Virginian forces, but the subsequent fighting in which he took part was of only minor importance. In 1758 he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, where his contributions to debate were marked by common sense rather than eloquence.
In 1759 he married a rich widow Martha Dandridge Custis (1732–1802). At Mount Vernon he lived as an affluent country gentleman, became an expert and enthusiastic rider and performed many public duties. He steadily improved his estate, amounting to 2300 hectares, with 200 slaves, and magnificent gardens laid out in the French style. He accepted, without approving, the institution of slavery but his slaves were freed on his death.
The events that preceded the War of American Independence found Washington firmly on the side of the colonists. Despite the dissolution of the Virginia House by the British Government for its support of the Boston resistance to taxation without representation, the burgesses continued to meet elsewhere and Washington was chosen as a delegate to the two continental congresses (1774 and 1775) summoned to decide on future action. The second was interrupted by the outbreak of hostilities, and Washington, one of the few with the necessary military experience, was made Commander-in-Chief of all revolutionary forces. Assuming the leadership just after the American defeat at Bunker Hill (June 1775), he began the enormous task of recruitment, training and equipment necessary to match his troops on equal terms with the British and German regulars. A new vigour and determination were soon apparent, but though the British were driven from Boston (1776) Washington’s attempt to hold New York against *Howe failed and a year of varying fortunes (1777) culminated in the defeat at Brandywine. Having overcome a movement to deprive him of his command, Washington emerged from the hardships of wintering at Valley Forge (1777–78) with a hardened, better trained and much more efficient army, unitedly devoted to its leader. The tide finally turned when France entered the war and it was the surrender of *Cornwallis at Yorktown (October 1781) to a combined attack by French ships and American troops that virtually ended the fighting, though formal acknowledgement of independence awaited the Treaty of Versailles (1783). Washington was no great strategist but, without the patience, courage and willpower of his formidable personality, victory could have scarcely been achieved.
The war over, Washington returned to Mount Vernon. He was elected as President of the Constitutional Convention meeting in Philadelphia May–September 1787, when delegates from 12 states (Rhode Island having failed to send delegates) hammered out a Constitution. Once ratified by the states, an election was held for members of the Electoral College in December 1788 – January 1789 who would choose the first President and Vice President. Only six states had a popular vote, with a strikingly low turnout (43,782 in total), four more sent delegates chosen by the state legislature, and three did not participate.
The Electoral College cast all 69 votes for Washington who was inaugurated as President of the United States in April 1789. (There were 11 candidates for Vice President. John *Adams won comfortably.) Washington chose his administration from all factions and only his force of character could hold together, even temporarily, men of such different outlook as Thomas *Jefferson and Alexander *Hamilton. Jefferson eventually went into opposition with the loosely organised Democratic-Republican Party. In 1792, the Electoral College unanimously re-elected Washington, but the Vice Presidency was contested, with the Federalist Adams defeating the Democratic-Republican George *Clinton. Among Washington’s most important decisions was keeping the United States neutral in the war between England and France. He refused a third term of office. Henry *Lee’s words, contained in the Resolutions in the House of Representatives at the time of his death, remain his finest epitaph: ‘First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen’. His will directed that his slaves should be freed on his wife’s death: among the Founding Fathers he was the only slave owner to do this.
In 1976, he was promoted ‘General of the Armies of the United States’ as part of the Bicentennial celebrations. In 20 major studies by historians and political scientists ranking US presidents, Washington scored No. 3 in the aggregate, behind Abraham *Lincoln and Franklin *Roosevelt.
Freeman, D. S., George Washington. 6 vols, 1948–54; Knollenberg, B., George Washington. 1965; Perry, J. A., Allison, A. M., and Skousen, W. C., The Real George Washington. 1991; Chernow, R., Washington: A Life. 2010.
Wassermann, August von (1866–1925). German bacteriologist. After practising as a physician for some years he became (1902) a professor at the *Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases at Berlin and in 1913 was given the direction of a new institute of experimental therapy. He is best remembered for the reaction test for syphilis which bears his name, but he also worked to provide antitoxins for immunisation against other diseases, e.g. diphtheria, cholera, tuberculosis.
Waterhouse, Alfred (1830–1905). English architect, born in Manchester. He designed several important London buildings, e.g. the Natural History Museum, St Paul’s School and the Prudential building in Holborn, and Eaton Hall, Cheshire for the Duke of *Westminster.
Watson (né Tanck), (John) Chris(tian) (1867–1941). Australian Labor politician, born in Valparaiso, Chile. Son of a German sailor lost at sea, he was brought up in New Zealand and became a printer. After serving in the New South Wales Parliament 1894–1901, he was a foundation member of the Commonwealth Parliament 1901–10, the first federal leader of the Australian Labor Party 1901–07 and the first Labor Prime Minister April–August 1904. He was (at 37) the youngest Australian Prime Minister, and the first Labor leader of a national government anywhere in the world. He broke with the ALP over conscription (1916) and went into business.
McMullin, R., So Monstrous a Tragedy. 2004.
Watson, James Dewey (1928– ). American biologist, born in Chicago. One of the radio ‘Quiz Kids’, educated at Indiana and Chicago Universities, he worked with Francis *Crick in Cambridge on establishing the structure and function of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and published the joint findings in Nature in 1953. In 1962 he shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine with Crick and Maurice *Wilkins. He wrote The Double Helix (1968), a lively account of the DNA discovery. He was a professor of biology at Harvard 1961–76, director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory 1968–93, and its President 1994–2004, and of the National Centre for Human Genome Research 1989–92. Awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, he was appointed FRS 1981, received the Copley Medal in 1993, and became an Hon. KBE in 2001. After 2004, he faced sharp criticism for his views about alleged genetic deficiencies of Africans.
Watson-Watt, Sir Robert Alexander (1892–1973). Scottish physicist, born in Angus. Educated at St Andrews University, he worked for years as a meteorologist. As superintendent of radio department of the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, he convinced military and political leaders of the possibility of applying to the location of aircraft the known principle of range-finding by the reflection of radio waves (1935). The main figure in the development of radar (an acronym of Radio Detection and Ranging), he led the team that developed this idea into an important defence weapon for World War II. He was elected FRS in 1941 and knighted in 1942.
Watson-Watt, Sir R. A., Three Steps to Victory. 1958.
Watt, James (1736–1819). Scottish engineer, born in Greenock. Son of a merchant, after an apprenticeship he became instrument maker to Glasgow University, where he used a workshop for engineering experiments. Here he devised (1765) means of improving the steam engine, notably by the addition of a separate condenser and a steam jacket. The reduction of wastage would, he estimated, cheapen steam power by about 75 per cent and thus make its use economic throughout industry. Delay in the construction of a full-size engine was overcome when Watt eventually obtained the backing of John Roebuck of the Carron Ironworks. Roebuck sold his interest to Matthew *Boulton of Birmingham, and it was there that Watt successfully completed his engine (1775). Taken into partnership by Boulton he continued to make improvements. To transform the reciprocating (i.e. to and fro) motion into a rotary movement he devised a ‘sun and planet’ gear. He invented also the two-cylinder engine, the double-acting engine and a centrifugal governor for controlling speed. In another field he invented a copying press which, by eliminating handmade copies, greatly reduced office work. The unit of electric power, the ‘watt’, was named after him.
Watteau, (Jean) Antoine (1684–1721). French painter, born in Valenciennes. He grew up in a border town and was in contact with the Flemish tradition. He went to study in Paris (1702) but continued to paint in the Flemish manner until he made his permanent home in Paris. While living there (1712–19) he introduced a new and highly sophisticated style in accord with the artificiality of court life. Subjects are the serenade, the dance, the whispered conversation, the picnic; shimmering gowns in a pastoral setting, a nostalgic transposition of the aura of the sweeter classical myth into the terms of Watteau’s own day. Paintings like the Embarkation for Cythera (1717) are among the masterpieces of baroque art. To these subjects he brought techniques derived from a study of *Rubens’ work and his own acute observation. In part, too, the pictures represent a dreamlike escape from reality. He died of tuberculosis from which he had long suffered and for which a visit to England (1719) was a vain attempt to find a cure. His last masterpiece, Gilles (1720–21), a pierrot in white (and a self portrait), is in the Louvre.
Watts, George Frederic (1817–1904). English painter and sculptor, born in London. He gained wide popularity, mainly through reproductions of allegorical pictures such as Love and Death, Hope and Mother and Child but his best work is in his portraits (*Russell, *Disraeli, *Shaftesbury, *Tennyson, *Gladstone, *Manning, *Carlyle, Ellen *Terry), 54 of them in the National Portrait Gallery, London. His first marriage (1864) to the actor Ellen Terry, then barely 17, was dissolved. Elected RA in 1867, he twice declined a baronetcy but was an original member of the OM (1902). He also created monumental sculptures e.g. Physical Energy (1902). Watts thought of himself as the English *Michelangelo. Posterity has not agreed, although he had some influence on Henry *Moore.
Watts, Isaac (1674–1748). English hymn writer. He was a nonconformist pastor in London, constantly handicapped by ill health and from 1712 he lived with and was cared for by Sir Thomas and Lady Abeny. He wrote a metrical version of the Psalms and was a most prolific writer of hymns, among the best known being O God, our help in ages past, When I survey the wondrous cross and Jesus shall reign where’er the sun.
Waugh, Evelyn Arthur St John (1903–1966). English novelist, born in Hampstead. Son of a publisher, he was educated at Lancing College, Sussex and Hertford College, Oxford. He taught unhappily at three schools (1925–27), material he turned to advantage in his first success, the novel Decline and Fall (1928). His marriage to Evelyn (he called her ‘she-Evelyn’) Gardner broke up in 1929. In 1930 he published a satire on Mayfair, Vile Bodies, and became a Roman Catholic. Journalism followed and the first of several visits to Africa which inspired the novels Black Mischief (1932), A Handful of Dust (1934) and Scoop (1938). He wrote a notable biography of Edmund *Campion (1935) and married Laura Herbert in 1937. He joined the Royal Marines in 1939 and served with the commandos (and Randolph *Churchill) in Yugoslavia 1944. His World War II experiences produced the great trilogy Sword of Honour (Men at Arms, 1952, Officers and Gentlemen, 1955, Unconditional Surrender, 1961). Brideshead Revisited (1945) was a popular and critical success, later a television series. The Loved One (1948), also filmed, was a biting satire on the Californian funeral business. The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (1957) was a savage self-portrait of a Catholic novelist, hallucinating on pills and alcohol, fighting against paranoia and despair. One of the great stylists, Waugh’s work was distinguished by wit, cynicism and a firmly reactionary view of life, sustained only by his family and pre-Vatican II Catholicism. His son Auberon Alexander Waugh (1939–2001) was a polemical journalist, novelist and critic.
Stannard, M., Evelyn Waugh: The Early Years: 1903–39. 1986; Stannard, M., Evelyn Waugh: The Later Years: 1939–66. 1993; Hastings, S., Evelyn Waugh. 1994; Eade, P., Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited. 2016.
Wavell of Cyrenaica, Archibald Percival Wavell, 1st Earl (1883–1950). British field marshal, born in Colchester. Son of a major general, educated at Winchester and Sandhurst, in World War I he served in Flanders (losing an eye at Ypres), Russia and Egypt. Commander-in-Chief in the Middle East 1940–41, his brilliant campaign of December 1940 resulted in the conquest of Cyrenaica and the capture of 130,000 Italian prisoners. *Churchill then directed Wavell to divert forces from North Africa to Greece (April 1941), a doomed campaign that enabled the Germans to recapture Libya and threaten Egypt. Churchill never forgave Wavell for his own strategic blunder. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief, India, 1941–43 and Supreme Commander, Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific January–March 1942 when Japan invaded Indonesia, Malaya and Burma. Viceroy of India 1943–47, he interned *Gandhi and *Nehru (1942–44) during their ‘Quit India’ campaign, but cooperated with them after 1945 to secure the basis for an orderly transfer of power on independence. His books include Allenby (1940), Generals and Generalship (1941) and the anthology of poetry Other Men’s Flowers (1944).
Wavell, A. P., Generals and Generalship. 1941.
Waynflete, William of (c.1395–1486). English scholar and prelate. He had been headmaster of Winchester for 11 years when (1441) he was called upon by *Henry VI to organise his new school at Eton, of which he became provost when it opened (1443). He became Bishop of Winchester (1447) and founded Magdalen College, Oxford (1448).
Webb, Sir Aston (1849–1930). English architect. He was best known for the new east front of Buckingham Palace, as well as the Victoria Memorial and Admiralty Arch which distinguish its ceremonial approach. He designed large extensions to the Victoria and Albert Museum (1909).
Webb, Mary (née Meredith) (1881–1927). English novelist, born in Shropshire. Her best known works are the novels The Golden Arrow (1916) and Precious Bane (1924), which won the Femina Vie-Heureuse Prize.
Webb, Sidney James, 1st Baron Passfield (1859–1947) and Beatrice Webb (née Potter) (1858–1943). English socialists and sociologists. Sidney was educated in London, became a civil servant (1878) and a barrister (1885) and was an active member of the Fabian Society from 1884. Beatrice was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, assisted Charles Booth in an investigation of London working-class conditions and had written The Co-operative Movement in Great Britain (1891) before she married Sidney in 1892. He was a member of the London County Council 1892–1910. Their careers were a literary and political collaboration. They visited Australia in 1898. They sat on many royal commissions, e.g. on trade union law, the coal mines, and the Poor Law (for which in 1909 Beatrice produced a notable Minority Report), and they helped start the London School of Economics (1895) and the New Statesman (1913). Their works on social history were of great importance e.g. The History of Trade Unionism (1894), English Local Government, (10 volumes 1906–29) and The Decay of Capitalist Civilisation (1921). Sidney became a Labour MP 1922–29 and served under MacDonald as President of the Board of Trade 1924 and Secretary of State for the Dominions and the Colonies 1929–31. After visiting the USSR (1932), the Webbs wrote Soviet Communism (1935), a thorough but excessively admiring account. Sidney received the OM in 1944.
Cole, M., and Drake, B. (eds), Our Partnership. 1948.
Webber, Sir Andrew Lloyd see Lloyd Webber, Andrew, Baron Lloyd Webber
Weber, Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von (1786–1826). German composer, born in Eutin. Son of a musician, he was a cousin of *Mozart’s wife Aloysia Weber (1759?–1839). In the hope that he would become a youthful prodigy he was sent to study music under Michael *Haydn (brother of Joseph). After his first post as conductor at Breslau he entered the service of the Duke of Württemberg, where he and his father were expelled for debt and dissipation. To his early period belong his only two symphonies (of little worth), two tuneful concertos (and one concertino) for clarinet and strings and the operas Sylvana (1810) and Abu Hassan (1811). He was director of the Prague opera 1813–17 and directed German opera at Dresden 1817–26. Here he succeeded in checking the dominance of Italian opera and in establishing the school of German romantic opera with its emphasis on the supernatural. His own contribution comprised his three mature operas, Der Freischütz (The Freeshooters,1821), Euryanthe (1823) and Oberon (1826). Only Der Freischütz has remained popular, but their colourful, dramatically apt orchestration, the occasional use of leitmotifs and a new structure of the overture (based solely on themes from the opera itself) influenced *Wagner profoundly. Weber died of tuberculosis while in London for the production of Oberon at Covent Garden. Of his other works, one remains outstandingly popular, his piano waltz Invitation to the Dance (1819), to which the orchestration by *Berlioz and, later, by *Weingartner gave a fresh brilliance.
Warrack, J., Carl Maria von Weber. 1968.
Weber, Max(imilian Karl Emil) (1864–1920). German sociologist and philosopher, born in Erfurt. Son of a civil servant, educated in Heidelberg and Berlin, between bouts of disabling illness, he held chairs at Freiburg and Heidelberg and wrote voluminously on social subjects, some of his most valuable work being concerned with the categorising of social groups. Politics as Vocation (1919), a collection of lectures, argues that leaders must have three qualities: passion, responsibility and a sense of proportion. His best known work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1920), an attempt to explain the link between the two halves of his title, was influential in Britain and the US. He died in the influenza pandemic.
Bendix, R., Max Weber: An Intellectual Portrait. 1962.
Webern, Anton (Friedrich Wilhelm von) (1883–1945). Austrian composer, born in Vienna. He studied composition with *Schoenberg, whose methods he adapted to his own purposes. After conducting in Danzig, Stettin and Prague, he directed the Vienna Workers’ Symphony Orchestra 1922–34. His orchestral works include a Passacaglia and two symphonies. He also wrote songs and two cantatas dating from World War II. The Nazis banned his works and forbade him to teach, but he had some sympathy for *Hitler. After liberation he was accidentally shot dead by an American soldier, Raymond Bell. In his compositions (most of which are very short) Webern, who developed Schoenberg’s principle of serialism by dividing the series into small cells and extended the serial principle to instrumental timbre, has had important influence on postwar composition (including *Stravinsky’s late works).
Wildgans, F., Anton Webern. 1966.
Webster, Daniel (1782–1852). American lawyer, orator and politician, born in New Hampshire. He practised law first in his native state and then in Boston, where, with legal skill and with magnificent eloquence, he argued cases involving major constitutional issues. Elected Member of the House of Representatives 1813–17, 1823–27, in the second period he was the principal spokesman in Congress for the administration of President John Quincy *Adams.
Webster was one of the greatest of American orators. His speech on the bicentenary of the Pilgrim Fathers (1820), his two Bunker Hill orations (1825 and 1843), on the supremacy of the Union (1830), and funeral orations (e.g. John *Adams and *Jefferson, 1826) demonstrate his mastery of phrase and superb gift of matching style with content.
US Senator from Massachusetts 1827–41, 1845–50, he was prominent in creating the new Whig Party (1833), but never secured the presidential nomination. He twice declined nomination as Vice President (1840, 1848) and in both cases the incumbent president died. He supported William Henry *Harrison in 1840 and served as Secretary of State 1841–43. The Webster-Ashburton Treaty (1842), with Britain, defined the US–Canadian border and ended the slave trade on the high seas. Although strongly opposed to slavery, in the interests of preserving the Union, Webster worked tirelessly to secure passage of the Compromise of 1850 which retained slavery in the South but prevented its expansion to the West. He became Millard *Fillmore’s Secretary of State 1850–52, dying in office.
Webster, John (c.1580–c.1625). English dramatist. Many of his plays were written in collaboration, notably with *Dekker and *Heywood, only three, in fact, of the surviving plays are known to be his independent work: The White Devil (1612), The Duchess of Malfi (c.1614) and the much less important The Devil’s Law Case (1623). The first two, based on Italian originals, vie with *Shakespeare’s work in tragic intensity, but the characterisation is cruder, the range of emotions narrower, and humour, except in its grimmest form, is lacking, Webster’s poetry, however, occasionally touches greatness.
Bliss, L., John Webster. 1983.
Webster, Noah (1758–1843). American lexicographer, born in Connecticut. Educated at Yale, he became a teacher, journalist and political writer, publishing the famous Webster’s Spelling Book in 1773. A Compendious Dictionary (1806) and An American Dictionary of the English Language (2 volumes, 1828) helped to standardise American English.
Scudder, H. E., Noah Webster.1971.
Wedekind, (Benjamin) Frank(lin) (1864–1918). German dramatist, born in Hanover. Conceived in the US, he became promoter, cabaret performer, poet, actor and director, and wrote many expressionist plays that anticipate the work of Bertolt *Brecht. The best known are Earth Spirit (1895) and Pandora’s Box (1904), in which the central character is the courtesan ‘Lulu’. G. W. Pabst filmed Pandora’s Box and Alban *Berg composed the opera Lulu.
Wedgwood, Dame (Cicely) Veronica (1910–1997). English historian. Educated at Oxford, her books include The Thirty Years War (1938), Oliver Cromwell (1939), William the Silent (1944), The Trial of Charles I (1964) and Milton and his World (1969). In 1969 she received the OM.
Wedgwood, Josiah (1730–1795). English potter. Descendant of a family of Staffordshire potters, in 1759 he started his own business in Burslem. He eventually succeeded in developing for large-scale manufacture the hard white earthenware already made in Staffordshire and possessing many of the qualities of porcelain. His improvements to body and glaze were made by introducing china-clay and china-stone, then recently discovered in Cornwall. Apart from this utilitarian product, Wedgwood became famous for his ‘jasper ware’, generally pale blue or green and, to accord with the classical taste of the time, adorned with a frieze of Greek figures embossed on it in white. For these decorative pieces, made nearby at his new works (1769) called Etruria, he employed many artists, notably *Flaxman. Wedgwood was an enlightened employer who did much to improve education and living conditions of his men. Charles *Darwin was his grandson.
Mankowitz, W., Wedgwood. 1953.
Weelkes, Thomas (c.1575–1623). English composer. He wrote Church music, music for keyboard and for viols, but is at his most original in madrigals, regarded as among the finest of the Elizabethan School.
Wegener, Alfred Lothar (1880–1930). German geophysicist, meteorologist, polar researcher and geologist, born in Berlin. He studied at Heidelberg, Innsbruck and Berlin and, before World War I, taught at Marburg. From 1910, following the ideas of Eduard *Suess, he developed his theory of Continental Drift or Displacement. Empirical evidence for this seemed to be the close jigsaw fit between coastlines on both sides of the Atlantic, and palaeontological similarities between Brazil and Africa. But Wegener had strong convictions that geophysical and geodetical considerations would also support a theory of wandering continents. As to the cause of the displacement he looked to tidal forces and a ‘flight from the poles’. Wegener supposed that the Mesozoic had seen the existence of a united supercontinent, ‘Pangaea’. This had split apart into Laurasia and Gondwana. During the Cretaceous, South America and North America had split, but not till the end of the Quaternary had North America and Europe finally divided, or South America split from Antarctica. He died on his fourth expedition to Greenland. The South African geologist Alexander du Toit supported Wegener, but it was the development of paleomagnetism by P. M. S. *Blackett and others in the 1950s that provided conclusive evidence for continental drift. Craters on Mars and the moon, and an asteroid (29227 Wegener), were named for him.
Georgi, J., ‘Memories of Alfred Wegener’, Continental Drift. 1962; Greene, M. T., Alfred Wegener. 2015.
Weil, Simone (1909–1943). French social philosopher and mystic, born in Paris. Daughter of a rich Jewish (but agnostic) physician, she was a youthful prodigy and studied philosophy, literature and science. She taught philosophy in provincial lycées, worked for a year in the Renault factory (1934–35) and as a cook for an Anarchist group in the Spanish Civil War (1936–37), also writing for socialist journals. She was severely burnt in Spain, suffered from acute migraine and contracted tuberculosis. In 1938 she had a series of mystical experiences, became absorbed in Catholicism and, although she did not enter the Church, was instrumental in converting others. She wrote an important short essay, The Iliad, or the Poem of Force (1939). She left France in 1942 for the US (via Casablanca), then went to England to work for General *de Gaulle. Suffering from tuberculosis, she refused to eat and died in a sanatorium in Kent. The posthumous publication of her books aroused intense critical interest. They include Waiting on God (Attente de Dieu, 1951), The Need for Roots (L’enracinement, 1952) and Notebooks (2 volumes, 1956). Between 1992 and 2012, 2500 scholarly works on Weil were published.
Weill, Kurt (1900–1950). German American composer. A pupil of *Humperdinck and *Busoni, his best known work is Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera, 1928), a modernised version of *Gay’s Beggar’s Opera with libretto by *Brecht, who also collaborated with Weill in later works, equally harsh and satirical in character, e.g. Happy End and The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (both 1929). These works are deliberately ‘popular’ and jazz-inspired in idiom, and in them Weill shows himself as much a political and social satirist as a musician. In 1933 he was obliged to flee Nazi Germany, settling (1935) in the US, where he produced music for plays and a folk opera, Down in the Valley (1948). He married the singer and actor Lotte *Lenya.
Weinberg, Steven (1933– ). American astro-physicist. Educated at Cornell, Copenhagen and Princeton universities, he held chairs in physics at the University of California (Berkeley) 1964–73, Harvard 1973 and Texas 1982. He wrote the bestseller The First Three Minutes (1977) and shared the Nobel Prize for Physics 1979 with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow for their research on unification of the weak force and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles.
Weinberger, Caspar Willard (1917–2006). American administrator. He served as US Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare 1973–75, became general counsel to the Bechtel Corporation and was Secretary of Defence 1981–87.
Weinberger, Jaromir (1896–1967). Czech composer. Chiefly remembered for his opera Schwanda the Bagpiper (1927), in 1938 he left Czechoslovakia and eventually settled in the US.
Weingartner, (Paul) Felix von (1863–1942). Austrian conductor, composer and critic. He studied at Leipzig and then under *Liszt. As conductor, he held posts in Berlin, Munich, Vienna where he was *Mahler’s successor at the Imperial Opera 1907–11 and elsewhere, and became well known by his foreign tours. His compositions, which include operas, symphonies and chamber music, lack individuality. He wrote books on *Beethoven’s symphonies and the art of conducting.
Weismann, August Friedrich Leopold (1834–1914). German geneticist, born at Frankfurt-am-Main. He studied medicine at Göttingen, and practised at Rostock and then in Frankfurt. He became professor of zoology at Freiburg in 1873. During the 1860s he carried out detailed microscopic investigations into insects, crustaceans and embryology, though difficulties with his eyes eventually put a stop to this work. Weismann is best remembered for his ‘germ plasm’ or chromosome theory of heredity. He grasped the centrality of the transmission of ‘information’ in biology. Within evolutionary theory there was deep disagreement as to how constant features and variations were passed on by inheritance. *Darwin had early favoured ‘pangenesis’, the theory that all characters were coded together in the genetic material. Other biologists had stressed the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Weismann launched a full-scale attack on this latter theory. His own experimentation had convinced him of the totally separate existence of genetic cells (germ cells) from body cells. He believed in the reality of an unbroken line of descent between the germ cells of successive generations, punctuated only by mutations in those cells (whereby evolution occurred). He argued that the hereditary material is contained in ‘chromosomes’. Fertilisation takes place by the bringing together of chromosomes from two individuals, and variation resulted from the combinations of different chromosomes that occurred. Weismann’s essentially genetic theory of the action of evolution was wrong in detail, but essentially underlies modern genetic theory.
Weiss, Peter Ulrich (1916–1982). Swedish-German writer, born in Babelsberg. From a Czech-Jewish family that left Germany in 1934, settling in Sweden in 1939, he became a painter, documentary film maker and Marxist social critic. His best known work is Marat/Sade (1963, in full The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade), first published in German, which was staged in many countries and made into a powerful film (1967) by Peter *Brook.
Weizmann, Chaim (1874–1952). Israeli chemist and politician, born in Motol, Belorussia. Educated in Berlin and Freiburg, he lectured at Geneva (1900–04) and was a reader in biochemistry at Manchester 1904–16, becoming director of the Admiralty laboratories 1916–19. He pioneered biotechnology by using bio-organisms to extract acetone from maize. This was of enormous importance in making explosives during World War I and attracted the interest and friendship of A. J. *Balfour. The Balfour Declaration (1917) promised the Jews a ‘national home’ in Palestine. Weizmann was President of the World Zionist Organisation 1921–31, 1935–46, of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem 1932–50, and first director of the Sieff Research Institute (later named for Weizmann) in Rehovot 1934–48. He served as the first president of Israel 1948–52. His nephew, Ezer Weizmann (1924–2005), was a general in the Israeli air force, served as Minister for Science 1988–92, urged a settlement with Israel’s Arab neighbours and became President 1993–2000, resigning over accusations of accepting gifts from businessmen.
Weizmann, C., Trial and Error. 1949.
Weizsäcker, Richard von (1920–2015). German politician. Educated at Oxford, Grenoble and Göttingen, he served in World War II and became a lawyer. He was a CDU member of the Bundestag 1969–81, governing mayor of West Berlin 1981–84 and President of the Federal Republic of Germany 1984–94. His eloquent speeches on the implications of war guilt attracted international interest.
Welby, Justin Portal (1956– ). English cleric, born in London. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, he worked in the oil industry until 1989, then followed a late vocation into the priesthood, becoming Dean of Liverpool 2007–11, Bishop of Durham 2011–13 and Archbishop of Canterbury 2013– . Doctrinally, he was a cautious conservative.
Weldon, Fay (née Birkinshaw) (1931– ). British author. Educated in New Zealand and Scotland, she was a prolific author of novels, plays, short stories, children’s books and criticism, and an accomplished broadcaster. Her books include Praxis (1978), Life and Loves of a She-Devil (1983), Letters to Alice (1984) and Habits of the House (1984).
Welensky, Sir Roy (Raphael) (1907–1991). Rhodesian politician, born in Salisbury. Of Lithuanian-Jewish and Afrikaner parentage, at 18 he became heavyweight boxing champion of Rhodesia. He worked as a barman and engine driver and, having gained a reputation as a forthright and belligerent trade union leader, first entered the legislature of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) in 1937. He became a member of the Executive Council (1940) and founded (1941) the Northern Rhodesian Labour Party. He took part in the discussions (1950–51) which led to the formation of the Federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia with Nyasaland. He joined the new federal government as Minister of Transport (1953) and succeeded Godfrey *Huggins (Viscount Malvern) as Prime Minister 1956–63 and was bitterly disappointed when the federation ended in 1963.
Welensky, R., Welensky’s 4000 Days. 1964.
Welf-Este (or Guelph-d’Este). German dynasty, originating (like the *Hohenstaufens and the *Hohenzollerns) from Swabia. The Welfs (known in Italy as *Guelphs or Guelfs) were allies of the papacy and contenders for the Imperial throne in the 12th and 13th centuries; their traditional rivalry with the *Ghibellines (who opposed secular papal power) led to constant instability. The Welfs formed dynastic links with the d’Estes of Ferrara and became rulers of Bavaria 1070–1180, and later Brunswick and Hanover. The dynasty also provided a Holy Roman Emperor (Otto IV) and a Russian Tsar (Ivan VI). The family name (never used) of Britain’s Hanoverian dynasty from 1714 to 1901 was Welf-Este.
Welles, (George) Orson (1915–1985). American film and theatre director, producer, writer and actor, born in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The son of a successful inventor and a concert pianist, he was orphaned at 12 and had a peripatetic childhood punctuated by short bursts of education. At 16 he made his debut as an actor with the Gate Theatre, Dublin and was strongly influenced by the Anglo-Irish actor-director Micheál MacLiammóir (1899–1978). After some years in touring companies, he founded the Mercury Theatre, in New York (1937) with John Houseman (1902–1988) and this led to innovative stage, radio and film productions. His realistic radio production (1938) of H. G. *Wells’ War of the Worlds caused a sensation and even some panic. His masterpiece, the film Citizen Kane (1941), which he wrote, directed and acted in, was a thinly disguised and controversial biography of W. R. *Hearst, the newspaper proprietor (with some elements of R. R. McCormick). Many film historians regard it as the greatest American film. Welles was 25 when he made it. His second feature The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) also used the Mercury stock cast, but not Welles himself. He directed and acted in the films Macbeth (1947), Othello (1952), Mr Arkadin/Confidential Agent (1955), Touch of Evil (1958), The Trial (1962) and Chimes at Midnight/Falstaff (1966). None of his later films made money so major production houses were unwilling to back him. He was forced to earn money as the narrator of many film and television productions of dubious value. Welles’ influence on European and American film makers has been enormous. His film roles for other directors include Jane Eyre (as Edward Rochester), The Third Man (Harry Lime), Moby Dick (Father Mapple) A Man for All Seasons (Cardinal Wolsey), Catch 22 (General Dreedle) and Waterloo (Louis XVIII.) His semi-documentary F for Fake (1975) was highly regarded. His ashes are buried in Ronda, Spain.
Higham, C., Orson Welles. 1985; Welles, O. and Bogdanovich, P., This is Orson Welles. 1992; Callow, S., Orson Welles. The Road to Xanadu. 1995.
Welles, (Benjamin) Sumner (1892–1961). American diplomat, born in New York. Educated at Groton and Harvard, he began his career (1915) as Secretary to the US embassy in Tokyo and later specialised in Latin American affairs. He supported Franklin *Roosevelt politically, became Assistant Secretary of State 1933–37 and Undersecretary 1937–43. During World War II he played a leading part in the negotiations that led to the signing of the Atlantic Charter (1941). Roosevelt essentially bypassed Cordell *Hull and used Welles as his foreign policy instrument until forced out by a homosexual scandal, complicated by heavy drinking.
Welles, B., Sumner Welles. FDR’s Global Strategist. A Biography. 1997.
Wellesley, 1st Marquess, Richard Colley Wellesley (originally Wesley), 2nd Earl of Mornington (1760–1842). Anglo-Irish Tory politician, born in Meath. Eldest son of the 1st Earl of Mornington, whose Irish title he inherited (1781), his younger brother, Arthur, became Duke of *Wellington. Educated at Harrow (expelled) and Eton, he read classics at Christ Church, Oxford and was a British MP 1784–97, a strong supporter of *Pitt and a Commissioner of the Indian Board of Control 1793–97. The East India Company appointed him as Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Presidency of Fort William (Bengal)—for practical purposes British India—1797–1805. His goal was to eliminate French influence in the sub-continent and extend British rule. He first dealt with the Nizam of Hyderabad, whose French-trained forces he contrived, by diplomacy and a display of force, to disarm without firing a shot. Next he turned against *Tipu, Sultan of Mysore, who was killed at the storming of Seringapatam (1799); Mysore was virtually brought under British rule. For the remaining years of his rule Wellesley was engaged in a prolonged struggle with the Mahratta confederacy, in which the victories of his brother played a decisive part. In 1803 came the end of French political and military influence in India and the Mughal Emperor Shah *Alam II was taken into British ‘protection’. Before British rule was consolidated, however, Wellesley, whose annexationist policy alarmed some of the Company’s directors, was recalled. During his tenure of office the small strips of British-held territory had been enlarged to become the foundations of an empire. Estranged from his brother for decades, he had two unhappy marriages and left no legitimate children. Created baron (Great Britain) in 1797, he was aggrieved at being only awarded an Irish marquessate, which he called ‘a double gilt potato’ (1799); he was later consoled by a KG (1810). He later served as Foreign Secretary 1809–12 and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 1821–28 and 1833–34. He wrote excellent letters, deplored the decisions made at the Congress of Vienna (1815) and was sympathetic to Catholic emancipation.
Butler, I., The Eldest Brother. 1973.
Wellington, 1st Duke of, Arthur Wellesley (originally Wesley) (1769–1852). Anglo-Irish Field Marshal and politician, born in Dublin. Son of the 1st Earl of Mornington and a younger brother of the 1st Marquess *Wellesley (whom he much disliked), he first gained an army commission in 1789 but did no regimental service until war with France broke out (1793). He served in a futile Dutch campaign (1794) but his first opportunity for distinction came when he was serving in India, where his brother was Governor-General. He successfully restored order after the fall of Seringapatam and held an independent command in the Mahratta wars. His greatest triumph was at Assaye (1803), where the Mahratta army was shattered. He returned to England (1805) and married Lady Katharine Pakenham (1806), a miserable union for both. A Tory MP 1806–09, he was Chief Secretary for Ireland 1807–09, interrupting his term to command the expedition sent (1808) for the relief of Portugal. Despite early successes, including the Battle of Vimeiro, he was superseded, and not responsible for the much criticised Convention of Cintra by which the French were allowed to withdraw rather than surrender. In 1809 he resumed his command in Portugal, which the French were again invading. He gained a victory at Talavera, which earned him the title Viscount Wellington and enabled him to take up a secure position in the prepared lines of Torres Vedras. Here, after checking the French at Busaco (1810), he stood firm against *Masséna’s advance. In 1811 he was strong enough to advance in turn, but had to await the fall of Ciudad Rodrigo (January 1812) and Badajoz (May).
Though he then captured Madrid he had to retire and winter in Portugal once more. Rapidly advanced to Earl and then Marquess in 1812, he received £100,000 from parliament. In 1813, promoted Field Marshal, with the French forces depleted to replace *Napoléon’s losses in the Russian campaign, he advanced across Spain and after the victory of Vittoria (July), forced the enemy to retire to France. Wellington followed, and after winning the last victory of the Peninsular War at Toulouse (April 1814), heard that Napoléon had abdicated four days before. He was created Duke of Wellington and parliament voted him £400,000 to buy estates. He was discussing peace terms at the Congress of Vienna (1815) when he heard of Napoléon’s escape from Elba. Wellington was placed in command of the allied army of the Netherlands and, though Napoléon succeeded in dividing his opponents, defeating the Prussians at Ligny and checking the British at Quatre Bras, it did not prevent Wellington, with the help of *Blücher’s Prussians in the later stages, gaining his final victory at Waterloo (18 June 1815). Parliament granted him a further £200,000 as there were no more British honours to give, although Spain, Portugal, France and the Netherlands conferred titles.
Wellington retained his position as Commander-in-Chief in France until 1818, when he returned to England to enter political life as Master-General of the Ordnance 1818–27. Temperamentally ill-equipped for this, he had constant friction with *Castlereagh and *Canning until he resigned and became Commander-in-Chief of the forces 1827–28, 1842–52. As Prime Minister 1828–30, his term was made memorable by the passage of the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act (1829) which he had long opposed. On the death of *George IV, an election was held in August 1830: despite a narrow Tory majority in the Commons, Wellington’s government lost a vote and the Whig, Earl *Grey, committed to Parliamentary reform, became Prime Minister. Wellington’s increasingly strident, sometimes irrational, opposition to Grey’s Reform Bill made him deeply unpopular and earned him the soubriquet ‘the Iron Duke’. Ultimately, he urged his supporters in the Lords to abstain from voting against reform, as he feared the risk of civil disturbance and threats to the monarchy, He voted against Jewish emancipation in 1833. Wellington was again briefly Prime Minister November–December 1834, served under *Peel, as Foreign Minister 1834–35 and Leader of the House of Lords 1841–46 and became Chancellor of Oxford University 1834–52. His photograph (1844) by Antoine Claudet is the earliest taken of a British prime minister. His burial at St Paul’s Cathedral marked the English nation’s ceremonial farewell to one of its greatest military leaders. Wellington had an austere nature but there was a gentler, more humane side to his character and he was a man of complete integrity and great shrewdness who, though little loved, commanded universal respect.
Longford, E., Wellington—the Years of the Sword. 1969, The Pillar of State. 1972; Holmes, R., Wellington: The Iron Duke. 2003; Muir, R., Wellington. The Path to Victory 1769–1814. 2013; Muir, R., Wellington: Waterloo and the fortunes of peace, 1814–1852. 2015.
Wells, H(erbert) G(eorge) (1866–1946). English novelist, historian and scientific prophet, born in Bromley, Kent. Son of a professional cricketer, he worked first as a draper’s assistant, then took to teaching and, with the aid of scholarships, graduated in science (1888). He joined the Fabian Society (founded 1884), but, though he reached a theoretical belief in scientific planning, he was too much the born novelist to be bound by dogma. He disdained the stylistic graces of Henry *James and professed to regard writing as a utilitarian means of expressing his ideas. But his characters, like those of *Dickens (with whom he had affinities), came to life beneath his pen, and Wells the novelist and Wells the social theorist tended to go their separate ways. His characters mostly moved in the world of the lower middle class, a world whose boundaries were changing quickly with new opportunities, new hopes, new challenges. Wells watched reaction to these changes with an observant and understanding eye; the new trends and new problems were the themes in which he took most delight. But before he embarked upon them there was a phase of fantasy and ‘science fiction’, as it came to be called. To this period belong The Time Machine and The Wonderful Visit (both 1895), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), and When the Sleeper Wakes (1899, revised as The Sleeper Awakes, 1910). In the same vein, written much later in the shadow of coming events, was The Shape of Things to Come (1933). The great novels of Wells’ maturity were introduced by Love and Mr Lewisham (1900), then followed Kipps (1905), Tono-Bungay (1909), Anne Veronica (1909) and the History of Mr Polly (1910). Mr Britling Sees it Through (1916) recalls World War I, but on the whole the later novels show a decline. Throughout his long life he was a tireless philanderer. The most successful of his later books was An Outline of History (1920), ‘an attempt to reform history teaching by replacing narrow nationalist history by a general review of the human record’. He also wrote Experiment in Autobiography (1934), as well as a number of social and political works. In 1939 he began a campaign for recognition of universal human rights, which had been ignored for a century, and his book H. G. Wells on the Rights of Man (1942) had a significant influence on *Roosevelt’s exposition of war aims and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). He was nominated four times for the Nobel Prize for Literature and craters on Mars and the Moon were named for him.
MacKenzie, N. and J., The Life of H. G. Wells: the Time Traveller. 1987 rev.; Foot, M., HG: The History of Mr Wells. 1995; Lodge, D., A Man of Parts. 2011.
Welty, Eudora (1909–2001). American novelist and photographer, born in Mississippi. Her novels and short stories about the Old South gained critical acclaim. She won a Pulitzer Prize with The Optimist’s Daughter (1973) and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1989.
Wenceslaus (Wenzel or Václav), St (c.911–935). Bohemian duke and Czech patron saint. He was the grandson of Bořivoj, a Bohemian chieftain converted to Christianity by the Byzantine missionaries *Cyril and *Methodius. An enlightened ruler, with a reputation for sanctity, he was assassinated by his brother Boleslaw and associates. The emperor *Otto I posthumously conferred the title of king. The English Christmas carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’ dates from 1853.
Wen Jiabao (1942– ). Chinese Communist politician, born in Tianjin. Trained as an engineer, and a protégé of *Zhao Ziyang, he was an able technocrat who became Premier of China 2003–13. Criticism of his family’s wealth actually confirmed the success of China’s adoption of capitalist norms.
Wenner-Gren, Axel (1881–1961). Swedish industrialist and entrepreneur. He owned Electrolux (manufacturers of household appliances), and controlled banks and newspapers, then moved into monorails and early computers. In 1939 he offered himself as a mediator to avoid the outbreak of World War II and became mistrusted on both sides.
Wentworth, William Charles (1790–1872). Australian politician, born near Norfolk Island. His father D’Arcy Wentworth (1762–1827) was assistant surgeon in New South Wales and his mother, Catherine Crowley, a convict. Educated at Greenwich, he crossed the Blue Mountains in 1813 in the first major inland exploration, then studied at Cambridge and in 1819 published A Statistical, Historical and Political Description of the Colony of New South Wales, the first book written by a native born colonist. Called to the English bar in 1822, he returned to establish The Australian (1824), a newspaper that espoused the cause of convict emancipation. He was one of the most powerful speakers in the New South Wales Legislative Council and took a prominent part in the negotiations (1852–53) by which the colony gained responsible government. He lived in England from 1855, died there but was buried in Sydney. His great-grandson, William Charles Wentworth IV (1907–2003) was an idiosyncratic Member of the House of Representatives 1949–77, briefly a minister and an original thinker on rail unification, Aboriginal land rights and science.
Ritchie, J., The Wentworths: Father and Son. 1997; Tink, A., William Charles Wentworth 2009.
Werfel, Franz (1890–1945). Austrian poet, novelist and dramatist. Of Jewish parentage, his poetry, mostly written in early life, is characterised by a deep compassion for mankind. The themes of his plays were both historical and modern. He married Alma *Mahler in 1929. He was best known for his novels, especially The Song of Bernadette (1941), concerned with the origins of the Lourdes miracles, and Jacobowsky and the Colonel (1945), a comedy filmed as Me and the Colonel. From France, where he had taken refuge after the German occupation of Austria, he escaped on foot (1940) over the Pyrenees during World War II and eventually reached the US.
Werner, Abraham Gottlob (1749–1817). German geologist. He proposed a general succession of the creation of rocks, beginning with Primary Rocks (precipitated from the water of a universal ocean), then passing through transition, sedimentary and finally recent and volcanic. The oldest rocks were chemically deposited, crystalline and fossil-less. Later rocks were mechanically deposited and contained fossils. Werner’s approach was particularly important for linking the order of the strata to the history of the earth and relating the study of mineralogy and geology.
Werner, Alfred (1866–1919). Swiss chemist. Professor of chemistry at Zürich 1893–1919, his studies on complex metal-ammonia compounds and other inorganic salts led him to formulate (1893) his coordination theory of valency. His postulation of ‘coordination numbers’ led to the discovery that inorganic as well as organic compounds have spatial structures. He thus laid the foundations of modern inorganic chemistry. He won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1913).
Wesker, Sir Arnold (1932–2016). British playwright, born in the East End of London. Of Jewish parentage, he found a setting for his play Chicken Soup with Barley (1958), part of a trilogy completed by Roots (1959) and I’m Talking about Jerusalem (1960). Among a variety of occupations, he was employed in a hotel, which provided a setting for The Kitchen (1961) and as a clerk in the RAF, Chips with Everything (1962). From 1961 until its ultimate failure in 1970 he devoted himself to running Centre 42, a TUC project for introducing workers to mainstream culture. Later plays include The Journalists (1975) and Caritas (1981).
Leeming, G., Wesker the Playwright. 1982; Taylor J. R., Anger and After. Rev. ed. 1969.
Wesley, Charles (1707–1788). English hymn writer. Brother and devoted adherent of John *Wesley, he wrote more than 6000 hymns, including Jesu, Lover of my Soul, Hark The Herald Angels Sing and Love Divine, all Loves Excelling.
Gill, F. C., Charles Wesley. 1964.
Wesley, John (1703–1791). English founder of Methodism, born in Epworth, Lincolnshire. A member of an old family linked with that of the Duke of *Wellington, he was educated at Charterhouse and Oxford, and ordained deacon (1725) and priest (1728). Elected a fellow of Lincoln College he remained in Oxford to teach, and there he, his brother Charles, George *Whitefield and other religiously earnest young men began to be known as Methodists pledged to live according to the ‘method laid down in the New Testament’. In 1735, when he crossed the Atlantic to go to Georgia under the auspices of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, he was still a High Church man but he became an admirer of the work of the Moravian Brethren and on his return to England made friends with their missionary, Benjamin Peter Bohler, who convinced him that to be a Christian it was not enough to believe in a body of orthodox doctrine but that a positive act of acceptance was necessary, resulting in living in union with and under the direct guidance of Christ. Such an instant conversion was experienced by Wesley himself at a meeting in London (24 May 1738): ‘I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins …’ This change meant an actual if not a formal breach with Anglicanism. As pulpits were refused, John and *Charles Wesley held vast open-air meetings, the first at Bristol, which some 3000 attended. The rest of his life was a prolonged pilgrimage, during which time he rode 60–70 miles a day and is said to have delivered over 40,000 sermons. Most of his converts were people of the working classes, miners, labourers, artisans, for whom the ancient parish system, a formalised ritual and a clergy grown languid and genteel, provided little comfort. In these circumstances the Methodist movement grew in strength and as it did so doctrinal differences increased: ecclesiastical traditions could not survive the move into the open air; the apostolic succession was rejected; separate chapels came to be built. The year 1784, when despite the strongest protests from Charles Wesley, John ordained a bishop (Francis *Asbury) for America, is regarded as a turning point. Ministers in Scotland first, then in overseas territories and finally in England, were also freely ordained by John. From a vast literary output his Journal stands out as an impressive witness to his character and observation. Such a man had little time for private life, but a lack of tolerance and tact in dealing with women may explain his unhappy marriage.
Wessel, Horst (1907–1930). German Nazi agitator. Severely injured in a street brawl, he died after refusing attention from Jewish doctors. His senseless death was commemorated in the Nazi anthem The Horst Wessel Song.
West, Benjamin (1738–1820). Anglo-American painter, born in Pennsylvania. He went to Italy to study (1759) and in 1763 reached England. He soon became known for classical religious and especially historical paintings such as the Death of Wolfe (1770), remarkable at the time for the use of contemporary clothing. He also illustrated the Boydell Shakespeare. A foundation member of the Royal Academy (1768), he succeeded *Reynolds as President 1792–1820.
West, Mae (1892–1980). American actor. She specialised in glamorous but witty and earthy ‘sex-bomb’ roles and was noted for a voluptuous figure: the ‘Mae West’ naval life jacket was so named because, when inflated, it produced a similar effect.
West, Martin Litchfield (1937–2015). English classical scholar. Educated at Oxford, he was Professor of Greek at the University of London 1974–91 and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford 1991–2015. He published extensively on Greek poetry and philology including a comprehensive (and controversial) revision of *Homer’s Iliad (1998–2000). He received the OM in 2014.
West, Morris Langlo (1916–1999). Australian, born in Melbourne. Trained for the priesthood, his successful novels (several were filmed) include The Devil’s Advocate (1959), The Shoes of the Fisherman (1963), The Ambassador (1965), Proteus (1979), The Clowns of God (1981), Masterclass (1989) and Eminence (1998).
West, Nathaniel (Nathan Wallenstein Weinstein) (1903–1940). American novelist, born in New York City. Before he was killed in a car crash at the age of 37, West had written four novels which, taken together, are a picture of disillusionment and an indictment of the American Dream. In his ‘black comedy’ vision of society, the common pursuits of happiness and liberty are inverted and seen as the paths of boredom, nightmare, neurosis and failure. His novels are The Dream Life of Balso Snell (1931), Miss Lonelyhearts (1933), A Cool Million (1934) and The Day of The Locust (1939).
Reid, R., The Fiction of Nathaniel West. 1968.
West, Dame Rebecca (real name Cicely Isabel Andrews, née Fairfield) (1892–1983). British novelist, critic and journalist, born in Ireland. Trained as an actor, she adopted her pen name from an *Ibsen character and wrote a long series of original and penetrating books, including studies of Henry *James (1916), D. H. *Lawrence (1930) and St *Augustine (1933), Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (about Yugoslavia, 1942), and several volumes reporting notable trials. She had a son, the writer Anthony West (1914–1987), by H. G. *Wells and was the lover of Lord *Beaverbrook.
Glendinning, V., Rebecca West. 1987.
Westermarck, Edward Alexander (1862–1939). Finnish sociologist. Professor of sociology at London University 1907–30, his many books include History of Human Marriage (1891), Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas (2 volumes, 1906–08), Ritual and Belief in Morocco (2 volumes, 1926) and Ethical Relativity (1932).
Westinghouse, George (1846–1914). American inventor. He had no academic training as an engineer but after taking part in the Civil War he went to work on the railways. He invented (1867) an automatic brake worked by air pressure and formed a company to manufacture it. Later he applied the same principles of air pressure to the movement of signals and points. He also devised gas and water meters and a system for safely transporting gases over long distances. He took out over 400 patents. Nikola *Tesla worked for him (1885–88) and in 1888 Westinghouse bought all his patents for the alternating current (AC) electric motor. At his workshops in Pittsburgh he also manufactured electrical equipment, including generators to utilise power from Niagara Falls. His campaign for the use of alternating current for the distribution of electricity was ultimately successful.
Westminster, 1st Duke of, Hugh Lupus Grosvenor (1825–1899). English nobleman, born in Cheshire. From an old Norman family, claiming descent from *Charlemagne, which married well, he was educated at Eton and (unsuccessfully) Oxford, becoming a Liberal MP 1847–69. The richest man in Britain, he owned much London property, including Mayfair and Belgravia. He inherited a marquessate in 1869, was awarded a KG in 1870 and in 1874 received the last non-royal dukedom from Queen Victoria on *Gladstone’s nomination; the reasons are obscure. In 1886 he broke with Gladstone over Home Rule for Ireland and became a Liberal Unionist. His horses won the Derby four times. He opposed cruelty to animals but was an expert shot, supported Florence *Nightingale and advocated cremation. His grandson, Hugh Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster (1879–1953), known as ‘Bend Or’, a magnifico, gambler, hunter, racehorse and yacht owner, served with *Milner and *Roberts in the Boer War, was a ‘die-hard’ (*Halsbury) in 1911 and won the DSO in World War I. He developed estates in Scotland, South Africa, Canada and Australia, married four times and was a disagreeable figure in English society. His cousin, William Grosvenor, the 3rd Duke (1894–1963), was kept in seclusion by the family.
Westmoreland, William Childs (1914–2005). American general, born in South Carolina. He served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and was a soldier out of central casting. As US Commander-in-Chief in Vietnam 1964–68 he believed that huge increases in troop numbers (and bombing, which exceeded World War II totals) would defeat North Vietnam by attrition: in fact, the US suffered the worst military/strategic defeat in its history. He became Chief of Staff of the US Army 1968–72.
Wettin. German dynasty. First prominent in the 10th century in Thuringia, the conferment of the electorate of Saxony on the Margrave Friedrich (1423) confirmed the family’s supremacy in that area. It was weakened, however, by a territorial partition between his grandsons: Ernest, founder of the Ernestine line, obtained the electorate and the larger part of the territory, while the Albertine line, stemming from his brother, was given the rest. The position was reversed during the Reformation. The Ernestine line, which provided *Luther’s strongest princely supporters, was deposed by *Charles V and the Albertine line substituted. Its members were also intermittently kings of Poland (1697–1763). After the fall of the Holy Roman Empire during the Napoléonic period, the elector of Saxony took the title of King. Meanwhile the Ernestine line had split into a number of branches, one of them that of Saxe-Coburg, from which sprang *Leopold I of the Belgians, *Albert, Victoria’s Prince Consort, and the kings of Bulgaria. Although Wettin was the family name of *Edward VII and *George V (until 1917), British courtiers thought it sounded ‘unsuitably comic’ and the cumbersome ‘Saxe-Coburg-Gotha’ was invariably used.
Weyden, Rogier van der (c.1399–1464). Flemish artist. Probably a pupil of Robert *Campin, identified as the ‘Master of Flémalle, he was appointed city painter of Brussels in 1436. Whether or not he actually visited Italy in 1450 (as supposed) is uncertain but his Entombment (Uffizi) certainly has affinities with Italian art. For the most part he worked in the Gothic tradition of the van *Eycks, but the figures, with the folds of the garments emphasised, and characters of the subjects more boldly defined by expression and gesture, give a more dramatic effect, sometimes at the expense of observed detail. Among his most characteristic paintings are the Adoration of the Magi (Munich) and the magnificent Descent from the Cross (Madrid).
Beenken, H., Rogier van der Weyden. 1951.
Weygand, Maxime (1867–1965). French general, born in Brussels. His parentage was uncertain (even to him), but his mother may have been *Metternich’s daughter Mélanie. He joined the French army in 1886 and was deeply opposed to Alfred *Dreyfus. As Chief of Staff 1914–23 to Ferdinand *Foch he made a great impression with his clear mind and quiet competence. He led the ‘allied armies of intervention’ (mostly French) in Poland 1919–20 and forced the Red Army back to the boundaries agreed on at Brest-Litovsk. He was elected to the Académie française in 1931. Commander-in-Chief of the French Army 1931–35, in 1939 he was recalled to service as Commander-in-Chief in the Levant. He replaced *Gamelin as allied Generalissimo May–June 1940 after the German breakthrough, but was too late to retrieve the situation. He served as *Pétain’s Minister for Defence 1940–41 and Governor-General of Algeria 1941–42. He was imprisoned 1942–46, first by Germans, then by the French.
Weygand, M., Recalled to Service. 1952.
Wharton, Edith (née Newbold Jones) (1862–1937). American novelist, born in New York. From a socially prominent family, she married in 1885, lived in France from 1907 and was divorced in 1913. Strongly influenced by Henry *James, her novels include The House of Mirth (1905), the more realistic Ethan Frome (1911), The Age of Innocence (1920, a Pulitzer Prize winner, filmed by Martin *Scorsese in 1993) and Old New York (1924). Her writing was concerned with the lives of the rich, leisured, cosmopolitan Americans of her own class. Wit, irony and satire characterise her novels, with more than a hint of anti-Semitism. Her themes are ethical as well as social, and sometimes, especially when writing of the position of women, she achieves tragic intensity.
Louis, R. W. B., Wharton: A Biography. 1975.
Whately, Richard (1787–1863). English scholar and Churchman. At Oxford, where he obtained a fellowship (1811) he associated with *Keble, *Newman and *Pusey but held no extreme religious views. He became Archbishop of Dublin (1831). He wrote much but is remembered by Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Buonaparte (1819), a satire on rationalist criticism of the Scriptures.
Wheatstone, Sir Charles (1802–1875). English physicist. Like *Faraday, he had no formal education in science, but while apprenticed to his uncle, an instrument-maker, became absorbed in experiments in physics. This led to his becoming (1834) professor of experimental philosophy at King’s College, London, an appointment which he held for the rest of his life. He was elected FRS in 1837, the year in which he patented the first electric telegraph with W. F. Cooke. Another invention of his was a clock for which polarised light was ingeniously used to measure time, but curiously enough he did not invent the so-called ‘Wheatstone bridge’ for measuring electrical resistance. The many other products of his inventive mind include the ‘concertina’. He was knighted in 1868.
Wheeler, Sir (Robert Eric) Mortimer (1890–1976). British archaeologist and writer, born in Glasgow. Educated at London University, he was awarded an MC during World War I, then earned a reputation for excavating Roman sites in England and Wales, especially Verulamium, near St Albans (1930–33). Keeper of the London Museum 1926–33, he directed the Institute of Archaeology 1934–39. Rising to the rank of Brigadier in World War II, he directed the Archaeological Survey of India 1944–48, excavating the Indus Valley civilisation, especially Mohenjo-daro and Harappa (both in Pakistan). He held a chair in archaeology at London 1948–56 and popularised the subject with books, broadcasts and television. He received a CH in 1968 and was heavily involved with UNESCO. He remains a controversial figure in archaeology, a careful observer, but prone to rash judgments and a sexual predator with his assistants.
Wheeler, M., Still Digging. 1955.
Whewell, William (1794–1866). English philosopher of science. Son of a carpenter, educated at Cambridge, he became a clergyman, professor of mineralogy 1828–32 and of moral philosophy 1838–55 at Cambridge, and Master of Trinity College 1841–66. A polymath, he was a poet, wrote on *Plato, translated *Goethe, published on crystallography, tidal movements and Gothic architecture, and coined many new words including ‘scientist’, ‘ion’, ‘cathode’, ‘Eocene’ and ‘Miocene’. He worked on the refraction of crystals and built up maps of cotidal times, wrote on the works of *Kant and on the history and philosophy of science, but had no interest in experimentation and was suspicious of contemporary research. He died after falling from a horse.
Whistler, James Abbott McNeill (1834–1903). American painter, born in Lowell, Massachusetts. After a brief incursion into military life at West Point Academy and a short period with the Coastal Survey Department (where he learned to etch), he went to Paris (1855) to study art. From the 1860s he lived mostly in London, and the Thames near his Chelsea home inspired some of his finest work. *Courbet’s work in Paris impressed him most, but a later and stronger influence was that of *Hokusai. In his famous Nocturnes, for example, he was more concerned with tone values than with the direct reproduction of nature’s effects attempted by the Impressionists. Even his well known portraits of his mother and of Thomas *Carlyle are studies in black and grey. A similar preoccupation with tone is seen in his Little White Girl hung at the Salon des Refusés in Paris (1863). Some of his best work is to be seen in his etchings of London and Venice. Whistler was slow to gain recognition, partly because of an angularity of character. Being extremely resentful of *Ruskin’s criticism, he embarked on the famous libel suit (1878) in which he obtained a farthing damages. The trial is documented in The Gentle Art of Making Enemies (1890).
Whitaker, Joseph (1820–1895). English publisher. He founded The Bookseller (1858) and the Almanack that bears his name (1869).
White, Edward Douglass (1845–1921). American jurist. After serving in the Confederate army, he joined the Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War, becoming an attorney, law professor and judge in New Orleans. He was a US senator from Louisiana 1891–94 until appointed a justice of the US Supreme Court 1894–1910. W. H. *Taft then promoted him to Chief Justice 1910–21. A conservative centralist, critical of special interests and states’ rights, he was the first chief justice from the ‘deep South’ and the first associate justice to be promoted.
White, Ellen G(ould, née Harmon) (1827–1915). American religious pioneer, born in Maine. Claiming visions from God, she became a central figure in creating the Seventh Day Adventist church, founded in 1863 in Battle Creek, Michigan. Adventists observe Saturday as the Sabbath, following the Jewish practice, and emphasise ‘the second coming’ (of Christ). *Arminius, the Dutch theologian, was a significant influence. A prolific writer, White’s Steps to Christ (1892) was translated into 140 languages. She published hundreds of pamphlets and speeches. Adventist schools, hospitals, nursing homes and missionaries are now found in every continent. Adventists promote health foods, such as Weetbix, marketed (tax exempt) under the Sanitarium Health Foods brand. Adventists claim 20 million adherents.
White, E(lwyn) B(rooks) (1899–1985). American author. Educated at Cornell, he joined The New Yorker as a staff writer (1926), published volumes of essays, the children’s books Stuart Little (1945) and Charlotte’s Web (1952), and revised and enlarged The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr (1959).
Elledge, S., E. B. White: A Biography. 1984.
White, Gilbert (1720–1793). English clergyman and naturalist, born at Selborne, Hampshire. Curate of Selborne from 1751, his Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne (1789) records in prose of great charm his observations of nature. In 1885, the Selborne Society was founded in his memory.
Scott, W. S., Gilbert White. 1950.
White, Patrick (Victor Martindale) (1912–1990). Australian novelist and playwright, born in London. His parents were Australian and, as a child, he lived in rural New South Wales. Educated at Cheltenham and King’s College, Cambridge, he served in the RAF during World War II and returned to Australia in 1948. His play The Ham Funeral (1947) anticipated *Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, but was not performed until 1961. His books include The Aunt’s Story (1948), The Tree of Man (1954), Voss (1957), Riders in the Chariot (1961), The Vivisector (1970), The Eye of the Storm (1973), The Twyborn Affair (1979), and an autobiography, Flaws in the Glass (1981). In 1973 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature ‘for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature’.
Marr, D., Patrick White. 1991; Marr, D. (ed.), Patrick White Letters. 1994.
White, T(erence) H(anbury) (1906–1964). English author. He is chiefly known for a series of Arthurian fantasies which reflect his love of the Middle Ages and of traditional sports such as falconry taken up while he was a teacher at Stowe (until 1936). These tales, of which The Sword in the Stone (1939) was the first, were published as the trilogy The Once and Future King (1958).
Whitefield, George (1714–1770). English preacher. One of a large family left fatherless, he was a servant at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he first came under Methodist influence and worked devotedly among prisoners and the sick. Ordained as deacon (1736), he immediately attracted attention as a preacher. He followed John *Wesley to Georgia and on his return, to collect funds moved from place to place, preaching wherever he halted and attracting a huge following by his eloquence and sincerity. His Calvinistic doctrines on predestination led to a breach with Wesley and, though a personal reconciliation took place, each took a separate religious path. For Whitefield his followers built a large church at Moorfields, London, known as the Tabernacle.
Dallimore, A., George Whitefield. 1970.
Whitehead, Alfred North (1861–1947). English mathematician and philosopher. He studied and taught mathematics at Cambridge 1880–1910 and in 1898 published A Treatise in Universal Algebra. He collaborated with Bertrand *Russell in Principia Mathematica (3 vols, 1910–13), taught at University College, London 1911–14 and was professor of applied mathematics at the Imperial College 1914–24. He became increasingly interested in philosophy and wrote several books attempting to link physical evidence into a philosophical scheme. In The Principle of Relativity (1922) he propounds an alternative to *Einstein’s theory. A move to Harvard University (1924) coincided with the inclusion of metaphysics in his wide range of thought. The best known of his books in this field was Science and the Modern World (1926), others include Process and Reality (1929), the highly important Adventures of Ideas (1933) and Nature and Life (1934). Whitehead was awarded the OM in 1945.
Lowe, V., Understanding Whitehead. 1962.
Whitelaw, William Stephen Ian, 1st Viscount Whitelaw (1918–1999). British Conservative politician. A guards officer who won the MC, he became a farmer and MP 1955–83, serving as a minister under Edward *Heath 1970–74 and Deputy Prime Minister 1979–88 to Margaret *Thatcher. In 1983 he was made the first hereditary peer since 1964, although he had no heir, and also received a CH and a KT.
Whiteley, Brett (1939–1992). Australian painter, lithographer and graphic artist. He first exhibited in Sydney in 1959, London 1960, Paris 1961 and New York 1968, and his works are marked by extraordinary virtuosity and occasional savage satire. They included landscapes, animal drawings, self portraits and studies of the murderer *Christie, *Baudelaire, van *Gogh, *Rimbaud, Francis *Bacon and Patrick *White. He died of a drug overdose. The Olgas for Ernest Giles (1985) sold for $AU3.5 million in 2007.
Wilson, A., Brett Whiteley. 2016.
Whiteman, Paul (1890–1967). American dance band leader. A close friend of George *Gershwin, he stimulated interest in ‘symphonic jazz’, in which the performers did not improvise but played from written parts.
Whitlam, (Edward) Gough (1916–2014). Australian Labor politician, born in Melbourne. Educated in Canberra and Sydney, he became a barrister (QC), Member of the Australian Parliament 1952–78, Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party 1960–67, and succeeded A. A. *Calwell as leader of the Party 1967–77. In December 1972 the Australian Labor Party regained office after 23 years but without a majority in the Senate, and Whitlam served as Prime Minister until November 1975. He introduced sweeping changes in foreign policy (recognising China, self-government for Papua New Guinea), education, social welfare, medical benefits, law reform and equal opportunity for women. He reduced tariffs by 25 per cent, promoted the arts and film and set up an Australian honours system, changes which have essentially remained. In 1974 Senate rejection of legislation forced a double dissolution in which Labor won the House of Representatives again, but not the Senate. More legislation was rejected, wages, inflation and government expenditure increased sharply and unemployment rose to 4.4 per cent. Following the Senate’s deferral (but not rejection) of supply, Whitlam declined to call an early election for the House of Representatives and, in an unprecedented act, was summarily dismissed by the Governor-General, Sir John *Kerr (November 1975), who installed Malcolm *Fraser as Prime Minister and, on his recommendation, dissolved the Parliament and called an immediate election. Whitlam was heavily defeated in the 1975 election, and again in 1977. He declined a CH in 1977, but received an AC in 1978 and became Ambassador to UNESCO, Paris 1983–86 and a member of its Executive Board 1985–89. His books include The Whitlam Government (1985) and Abiding Interests (1997). By 2013 he had become the longest lived head of any government in the English-speaking world. His wife, Margaret Elaine Whitlam (née Dovey) (1919–2012), a social worker, played a major role in opening up social issues, especially gender equality.
Freudenberg, G., A Certain Grandeur.1977; Whitlam, E. G., The Whitlam Government. 1985; Hocking, J., Gough Whitlam. 2 vols, 2009, 2012.
Whitman, Walt (1819–1892). American poet, born in Long Island. Son of a Quaker carpenter, he grew up in Brooklyn and worked briefly as an office boy, printer, journalist and teacher. Among other journals he edited (1846–1848) the Brooklyn Eagle which he made a platform from which to voice his anti-slavery views. At loggerheads with his proprietors, he left to enlarge his knowledge of America by a trip to New Orleans, from which he returned by the Mississippi and the Great Lakes. There followed a period of avid but unsystematic reading, from the Bible, *Homer and the classics, to *Shakespeare and writers such as *Scott, *Carlyle, *Coleridge and *Emerson. Apart from a vein of mysticism in his poems, attributable to his philosophic readings, the main result was an attempt to shed European influences and introduce a national literature suited to the free, robust, democratic American. He began the realisation of this purpose with the first publication of Leaves of Grass (1855), an attempt ‘to put a Person, a human being (myself, in the latter half of the 19th century in America) freely, fully and truly on record’ and ‘to loosen the mind of still-to-be-formed America from the folds, the superstitions and all the long, tenacious and stifling anti-democratic authorities of Asiatic and European past’. At first a volume of 12 poems, Leaves of Grass grew with successive editions; the sixth (1881) contained 293 poems. In a final reprint (1892), two annexes added 95 short poems. His poetry is marked by irregular measures, long verse lines, strong rhythms and an incantatory style.
His greatest poems, all written in the decade 1855–65, include ‘Song of Myself’ (1855), ‘Crossing Brooklyn Ferry’ (1856), ‘Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking’ (1860), ‘When Lilacs Last in the Doorway Bloom’d’ (an elegy to Lincoln, 1865) and ‘The Wound-Dresser’ (1865, later set by John *Adams). (He had been a wound-dresser in a military hospital in Washington DC 1863–64).
The Civil War traumatised Whitman’s family. After representations by *Emerson, he secured a clerkship in the Department of the Interior but was dismissed (1865) because the Secretary disapproved of Leaves of Grass, and suspected Whitman of being homosexual. However, he was soon appointed to the Attorney-General’s Department.
In England, Leaves of Grass was praised by *Tennyson, *Ruskin and the *Rossettis.
In 1873 he had a paralytic stroke but gradually recovered from complete invalidism. From 1884 he lived in retirement in Camden, New Jersey, where he died. In addition to his poems, Whitman wrote several prose works including Democratic Vistas (1871) and the random jottings in e.g., Specimen Days in America (1887). Whitman was the first great poet to be distinctively American, but it is ironic that it has always been to the intellectual that his work has appealed rather than to the ‘common man’ for whom he wrote.
Harold Bloom described Emily *Dickinson and Whitman as ‘the two great American poet-originals’. His poetry influenced *Lawrence, *Eliot, *Stevens, *Lorca, *Borges and *Ashbery.
Allen, G. W., The Solitary Singer. Rev. ed. 1967; Loving, J., Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself. 1999; Stacy, J., Walt Whitman’s Multitudes. 2008.
Whitney, Eli (1765–1825). American engineer and inventor, born in Massachusetts. He graduated from Yale College, and had been a tutor when a chance conversation turned his mind to the problem of separating seed and dirt from cotton fibre. The result was the ‘cotton gin’ (1793), a machine consisting of a wire-toothed drum that tore the fibre from the seeds, the fibre being in turn removed from the wires by revolving brushes. The use of a single machine to do the work of some 200 men revolutionised the cotton industry. Paradoxically, the gin made cotton production economically viable, it expanded exponentially in the South, ‘King Cotton’ displaced tobacco as the major employer, and greatly increased the demand for slavery. Owing to patent difficulties with the gin, Whitney won more prestige than money. One of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution, he is credited with the theory and practice of standardised interchangeable parts, which led to the concept of mass production. (He was not its originator, but an influential promoter.) He probably did not invent the milling machine. His creative use of accounts to secure government grants inspired accountants for decades.
Green, C. M., Eli Whitney and the Birth of American Technology. 1956.
Whittier, John Greenleaf (1807–1892). American Quaker poet, born in Massachusetts. He worked untiringly for the abolition of slavery, as political activist and journalist, writing pamphlets and editing abolitionist journals. His numerous volumes of poetry, especially those depicting New England life and legends, gave him great contemporary popularity and some poems are still recalled. Among them are Snowbound, The Barefoot Boy, and the ballad Barbara Frietchie.
Whittington, Richard (c.1358–1423). English mercer. Son of a Gloucestershire knight, he acquired great wealth in London, which enabled him to lend money to *Henry IV and *Henry V, and, since he was childless, to bestow many benefactions on the city of London both before his death and by bequest. He was Mayor of London 1397–98, 1406–07 and 1419–20. The legend of Dick Whittington and his cat was first given currency in a play and a ballad in 1605. The only similarity between history and fiction seems to be that both Richard and Dick married an Alice Fitzwaryn (Fitzwarren).
Whittle, Sir Frank (1907–1996). English aircraft engineer and inventor, born in Coventry. Despite his small stature, he joined the RAF (1923) and soon began studying the problems of jet propulsion for aircraft. Having striven hard and long for official support, he at last found himself with a small team of craftsmen, fired by his own enthusiasm, installed in a small, ill equipped workshop and using every spare hour to turn his idea into a reality. He studied at Peterhouse, Cambridge 1934–36. At last (1937) the first successful gas turbine engine was made. Despite official indifference from the Air Ministry until 1939, by 1941 a Gloster plane fitted with one of Whittle’s engines flew and achieved excellent results, but owing to the time required for manufacture, the jet-propelled aircraft played no effective part in World War II. In 1948 Whittle was awarded £100,000 and a KBE for his work, and became consultant to Rover, Rolls-Royce and BOAC (now British Airways) in developing jet aviation. He migrated to the US in 1976, taught in Maryland, and in 1986 received an OM and was elected FRS. He died of lung cancer.
Whittle, F., Jet. 1953.
Whitty, Dame May (Mary Louise) (1865–1948). English actor. She married the director Ben Webster (1864–1947). In 1918, she and Nellie *Melba were appointed DBE for their war work, the first female performers so honoured. She made three silent films, then between 1936 and 1948 played character roles in 33 ‘talkies’, including Night Must Fall (1937), The Lady Vanishes (1938) and Mrs Miniver (1942). Her daughter, Margaret Webster (1905–1972), was a theatrical director, e.g. of Paul *Robeson in Othello.
Whitworth, Sir Joseph, 1st Baronet (1803–1887). British engineer and inventor. Founder of the Whitworth scholarships in engineering science, he is best known for his invention of a gun barrel with a revolutionary type of bore, and for the now standard screw thread named after him. He was created baronet in 1869.
Whymper, Edward (1840–1911). English mountaineer. A wood engraver and book illustrator by profession, he is better known for his travels in Greenland (1867 and 1872) and for his mountaineering feats, including the first ascents of the Matterhorn (1865) when three of his companions lost their lives, and of Chimborazo in the Andes (1879).
Wicliffe see Wyclif, John
Widodo, Joko (‘Jokowi’) (1961– ). Indonesian politician, born in Central Java. Mayor of Surakarta 2005–12, Governor of Jakarta 2012–14, and a protégé of *Megawati Soekanoputri, he was nominated as the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) candidate for President in 2014. He defeated Prabowo Subianto by 53 per cent to 47 per cent and was President 2014– .
Widor, Charles-Marie (1844–1937). French composer and organist. He was organist at St Sulpice, Paris 1869–1934 and professor of composition at the Paris conservatoire. He composed 10 symphonies for organ and many orchestral works, and edited *Bach’s organ music with his pupil Albert *Schweitzer.
Wieland, Christoph Martin (1733–1813). German writer. Son of a pastor, he first wrote pious and religious poems but, after contact with the literary and social world, he began to produce a variety of elegant and witty works. From 1762 he produced the first German translations of *Shakespeare (all in prose except A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Of his original works, the narrative poem Oberon (1780) is of particular charm. It is based on a medieval chanson de geste which relates the fantastic adventures of Huon of Bordeaux at the court of Babylon. More important, perhaps, is the novel Agathon (1766) the classical setting of which does little to disguise its autobiographical theme of a young man’s reaction to the impact of experience and philosophy. In 1772 Wieland went to be tutor to the future Duke Karl August of Saxe Weimar and remained at Weimar until his death. While there he translated many classical texts and wrote opera libretti.
Wien, Wilhelm Carl Werner Otto Fritz Franz (1864–1928). German physicist, born in Prussia. As professor of physics at Giessen 1899–1900, Würzburg 1900–20 and Munich 1920–28, he carried out important studies on cathode rays, canal rays, and blackbody radiation. He discovered (1893) the ‘displacement law’ (Wien’s law) which shows how the intensity maximum in the spectrum moves to shorter wavelengths with increase in temperature, so that the product of the wavelength at maximum intensity and the absolute temperature is constant. This law made it possible to determine the temperature of bodies such as the sun and stars by observing the distribution of spectral intensity. He won the 1911 Nobel Prize for Physics for ‘discovering laws governing the radiation of heat’.
Wiene, Robert (1873–1938). German film director, born in Breslau (now Wroclow, Poland.) His film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1919), featuring Conrad *Veidt, was a highpoint of German Expressionism. Other films include Raskolnikow (based on *Dostoevsky, 1923) and The Hands of Orlac (1924). He left Germany in 1933 and died in Paris.
Wiener, Norbert (1894–1964). American mathematician, born in Columbia, Missouri. A child prodigy who had enrolled by the age of 15 at Harvard Graduate School, he spent his late teens and early twenties trying out various approaches in mathematics, philosophy and zoology, before moving to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (assistant professor, 1924, associate 1929, full professor 1932). He remained there until his retirement. Much of his early career was devoted to pure mathematics. He was concerned with harmonic analysis, and did work on Lebesgue integration and Brownian motion. The mathematical consequences of the laws of thermodynamics were worked out by Wiener. His most original work came after 1940 when he became absorbed in the development of computing machines. His penetrating analysis of feedback control in artificial intelligence systems led to interest in human intelligence, and to creative work in the general field of systems analysis. The science of communication and information opened up as a result of Wiener’s probings. His Cybernetics was published in 1948.
‘Norbert Wiener’ in Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, 72, 1966.
Wieniawski, Henryk (1835–1880). Polish composer and violinist. He ranked immediately after *Paganini and *Sarasate as a great virtuoso and wrote many works to show off his prodigious technique, including two concertos, Legende, Scherzo-Tarantelle and Fantasy on Gounod’s Faust.
Wiesel, Elie(zer) (1928–2016). American-Jewish writer, born in Romania. His mother and sister were killed in Auschwitz; he and his father survived Buchenwald. He revived the use of the term ‘Holocaust’ and wrote extensively about the wartime attempt to exterminate the Jews. He held chairs at Boston and Columbia Universities, received the Nobel Peace Prize (1986), the US Presidential Medal of Freedom (1992), Hon. KBE (2006) and many other awards. He campaigned for human rights in South Africa, Argentina, Bosnia, Nicaragua and Sri Lanka, denounced the Armenian genocide but was silent on Palestine.
Wiesenthal, Simon (1908–2005). Austrian-Jewish war crimes investigator, born in Poland. Trained as an architect, he was a Nazi prisoner 1941–45, worked to gather evidence for the prosecution of war criminals and founded the Jewish Documentation Centre in 1954. His agents tracked down Adolf *Eichmann in 1960.
Wiggin, Kate Douglas (née Smith) (1865–1923). American author. She was a pioneer of kindergarten teaching before becoming a writer. The best known of her novels, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1903), gives a charming picture of New England life.
Wilberforce, William (1759–1833). English politician and philanthropist, born in Hull. From a wealthy Yorkshire family, after leaving Cambridge University he entered politics. He was first elected MP in 1780 and became a friend and supporter of *Pitt but, having been converted to evangelism (1784–85), devoted himself to philanthropic causes, e.g. the abolition of the slave trade, a bill for which he finally carried (1807) after 20 years’ struggle. His next objective was the abolition of slavery itself. He helped to found the Anti-Slavery Society (1825) but, as his health failed, leadership of the movement passed to T. F. *Buxton. A month before the measure was passed Wilberforce died. He helped to found the Church Missionary Society (1798) and the Bible Society (1803), and he wrote A Practical View of Christianity (1797). His son, Samuel Wilberforce (1805–1873) was a High Church bishop of Oxford (1845) and of Winchester (1869). Though he opposed *Newman and *Pusey he did much to invigorate the Anglican Church, supported retreats and religious communities, Cowley (for men) and others for women, and founded Cuddesdon Theological College. His nickname ‘Soapy Sam’ referred to his equivocal position in several controversies. He was killed by a fall from his horse.
Wilbye, John (1574–1638). English composer. One of the leading masters of the English madrigal, among the longer and best known examples are Draw on Sweet Night and Sweet Honey-Sucking Bees.
Wilcox, Ella Wheeler (née Wheeler) (1850–1919). American verse writer. Extremely prolific, she was described by the London Times as ‘the most popular poet of either sex and of any age’. Sentimentality was the key to her success.
Wild, Jonathan (1682?–1725). English criminal. Having gone to London (c.1706) from Birmingham, where he was a buckle maker’s apprentice, he controlled a gang of thieves, whose loot he ‘recovered’ for its owners for a fee that he shared with his accomplices. Eventually, he was hanged at Tyburn. *Defoe related his exploits, which Fielding elaborated, to provide a plot for his satirical romance, Jonathan Wild the Great (1743).
Wilde, Oscar Fingall O’Flahertie Wills (1854–1900). Irish writer and wit, born in Dublin. His father, Sir William Wilde (1815–1876) was an ophthalmic surgeon, writer, archaeologist and philanthropist, his mother Jane Francesca Agnes Algee (1821–1896), a poet, Irish nationalist and suffragist who wrote under the name ‘Speranza’. Oscar showed his brilliance at Trinity College, Dublin, and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was influenced by *Pater and *Ruskin and won the Newdigate Prize for Poetry in 1878 and was regarded as the founder of the aesthetic movement which cultivated ‘art for art’s sake’. Wilde, notorious for his eccentricities of manner and dress, was satirised as ‘Bunthorne’ in Patience (1891) by *Gilbert and *Sullivan. His first book of poems was published in 1881 and in 1882–83 he lectured in the US and Canada. In London he married (1884) Constance May Lloyd (1859–1898). Of their two sons, the younger, later known as Vyvyan Holland (1886–1967), wrote tirelessly to vindicate his father’s reputation. In 1888 Wilde published The Happy Prince, a collection of children’s stories and in 1891 a novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, an arresting study in the macabre. Meanwhile he had established himself as the most brilliant conversationalist of his day, coining epigrams and paradoxes which provided the main substance of his highly successful comedies: Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest (both 1895). His play Salomé (1893), written in French, was refused a licence in London and became the libretto of an opera (1905) by Richard *Strauss. In 1895 the Marquess of *Queensberry, who objected to Wilde’s intimacy with his son Lord Alfred *Douglas, living and travelling together, left a card at Wilde’s club accusing him as ‘posing as a somdomite’ (sic). Wilde imprudently initiated a prosecution for criminal libel against Queensberry but cross-examination by Edward *Carson, the marquess’ counsel, was destructive and the charge was withdrawn, leaving Wilde to pay heavy costs. Despite advice from his friends, including Bernard *Shaw and Frank *Harris, to leave for Paris, Wilde was arrested and charged with ‘gross indecency’. In the first trial the jury disagreed, but a second humiliating trial resulted in his conviction and a sentence of two years’ jail with hard labour. From his experiences of prison life came his long poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898) and the bitter De Profundis (published posthumously in 1905). After his release he lived in Paris under the name of Sebastian Melmoth. Dogged by ill health and poverty, he died there and was buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery.
Ellmann, R., Oscar Wilde. 1987; Frankel, N., Oscar Wilde. 2017; Sturgis, M., Oscar. A Life. 2018; Mendelssohn, M., Making Oscar Wilde. 2018.
Wilder, Billy (originally Samuel) (1906–2002). American director, producer and screenwriter, born in Sucha Beskidzka, then in Austria-Hungary, now in Poland. He became a journalist and scriptwriter, arriving in Hollywood in 1933. He won seven Academy Awards for writing, directing and producing. His feature films include The Lost Weekend (1945), A Foreign Affair (1948), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Stalag 17 (1953), The Seven Year Itch (1955), Some Like It Hot (1959), The Apartment (1960) and The Front Page (1974). He was a major art collector.
Wilder, Thornton (1897–1975). American novelist and playwright. His novels include The Bridge of San Luis Rey, which won the Pulitzer Prize (1927), and The Ides of March (1940). His first successful play was Our Town (1938), followed by The Skin of our Teeth (1942). Later he wrote The Matchmaker (1954) and A Life in the Sun (1955), a version of the Oedipus legend.
Wiles, Sir Andrew John (1953– ). English mathematician, born in Cambridge. He taught in Oxford and Princeton and won international acclaim for solving the problem of *Fermat’s last theorem, with a partial solution in 1993, fully developed in 1995. He won many awards, an asteroid (9999 Wiles) was named for him and his work was celebrated in songs, films, television programs and novels.
Wilhelm I (Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig) (1797–1888). German Emperor 1871–88, and King of Prussia 1861–88. He went to England during the revolution of 1848 but returned in 1849 to lead the army which crushed the insurgents. He was regent for his brother, *Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia (by then insane), from 1858 until he succeeded him. When he became King he quarrelled with the Diet over the reorganisation of the army, and even thought of abdicating, but in 1862 he appointed *Bismarck as his Chief Minister, and thereafter he gave continuous, though not uncritical, support to his minister’s triumphant policy by which, through wars against Denmark, Austria and France, Prussia was given a dominating position in Europe and became the hard core, round which the new empire was built (1871). Wilhelm, a good soldier and, though a reactionary ruler, an honourable man, disliked the newfangled imperial dignity thrust upon him as well as many of the means by which it was obtained, but he had neither the will nor power to quarrel with Bismarck to whom he owed so much.
Wilhelm II (Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert) (1859–1941). German Emperor and King of Prussia 1888–1918. Grandson of the emperor *Wilhelm I and son and successor of *Friedrich III, he was the ‘Kaiser’ of World War I. Unlike his liberal-minded father, he gloried in the traditions of the Prussian army and indulged in dreams of leading it to new triumphs. Though *Bismarck had been the hero of his youth he could not submit to the tutelage of anyone, however great. In 1890 he ‘dropped the pilot’ and thereafter Germany’s destiny lay in the hands of its able but impetuous and unpredictable ruler. At home he chose ministers for pliability rather than wisdom, abroad he stirred antagonism as though intentionally. He even managed to bring Britain, France and Russia together by truculent interference in their concerns. To Britain, for example, his telegram of congratulation to President *Kruger on the suppression of the Jameson Raid was a deliberate provocation, while his vast naval construction could have only one purpose. Thus, when the murder of Archduke *Franz Ferdinand (1914) proved to be the match that fired World War I, Germany and Austria stood alone. Even Italy, the third member of the Triple Alliance, joined her enemies (1915). The German army fought at first with all its old brilliance and success but it was the generals not the Emperor who gained the plaudits, and when the tide turned it was remembered whose policy had brought disaster. Wilhelm fled to Holland when defeated Germany became a republic and lived quietly at Doorn, near Utrecht until his death. His first wife, Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein died in 1921 and he married Princess Hermine of Reuss (d.1947). His son, Crown Prince Wilhelm (1882–1951), satirised as ‘Little Willie’ by British cartoonists, supported the Nazis from 1932.
Cowles, W. S., The Kaiser. 1963; Röhl, J., Young Wilhelm. 1998; The Kaiser and His Court. 1994; The Kaiser’s Personal Monarchy. 2004.
Wilhelmina (1880–1962). Queen of the Netherlands (1890–1948). She was a daughter of King Willem III (1817–1890) by his second wife Emma of Waldeck-Pyrmont (1858–1934), who acted as regent for her daughter until she came of age (1898). In 1901 Queen Wilhelmina married Prince Hendrik of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. In World War II, when her country was overrun by the Germans, she headed the government in exile in Canada and did everything in her power to encourage resistance. She abdicated in favour of her daughter, *Juliana.
Wilhelmina, Lonely but not Alone. 1960.
Wilkes, Charles (1798–1877). American naval officer. He led an exploring expedition to the Antarctic (1838–42) but did not land. Wilkes Land, in the Australian territory, is named for him. During the US Civil War, he provoked a diplomatic incident with the British by arresting the British mail steamer Trent (1861) and removing Confederate officials.
Wilkes, John (1727–1797). English politician. Son of a wealthy distiller, as a young man he was prominent among the members of the Hellfire Club who celebrated their orgies at Sir Francis Dashwood’s residence, Medmenham Abbey. In 1757 he was elected MP for Aylesbury but in 1761 he became a violent opponent of Lord *Bute, Chief Minister of the young *George III. To this end he established a weekly newspaper The North Briton, in No. 45 of which he asserted that the speech from the throne contained lies put into the King’s mouth by his ministers. He was arrested under a general warrant (soon held to be illegal) against authors, printers and publishers, but was acquitted on the grounds of parliamentary privilege. The government’s next step was to obtain a copy of his privately printed Essay on Woman. Obscene extracts read out in the House of Lords caused its condemnation and, after a duel, Wilkes took refuge in France. During his absence he was expelled from parliament for his ‘No. 45’ and outlawed. On his return (1768), though elected four times in succession for Middlesex, he was imprisoned for 22 months and not allowed to take his seat. ‘Wilkes and Liberty’ became the Radical catchwords. Wilkes, not born to be a martyr, was elected Sheriff of Middlesex (1771), Lord Mayor of London (1774) and in the same year took his seat in parliament without opposition. Meanwhile he had made his peace with the court and in 1780 was to play a prominent part in the suppression of the Gordon Riots. However, by his stands for the freedom of the press, and against arbitrary governmental action he earned the epitaph of his own composing, ‘a friend of liberty’.
Thomas, P. D. G., John Wilkes: a friend to liberty. 1996.
Wilkie, Sir David (1785–1841). Scottish painter. He came to London in 1805, and won fame with his genre pictures such as Village Politicians (1806) and Penny Wedding, notable for their imaginative colour and sense of character. He was elected ARA (1809) and RA (1811). Later he turned (less happily) to historical pictures, e.g. The Preaching of John Knox. He succeeded *Lawrence as court painter (1830) and was knighted in 1836.
Miles, A. D. and Brown, D. B., Sir David Wilkie of Scotland. 1987.
Wilkins, Sir (George) Hubert (1888–1958). Australian explorer, born in Hallett Cove, South Australia. After service as a war correspondent in the Balkan Wars (1912–13) he accompanied *Stefansson’s expedition to the Arctic before joining the Australian Flying Corps in World War I. He was with the Quest during *Shackleton’s last Antarctic voyage (1921–22). He was knighted (1928) for a flight from Alaska to Spitsbergen, one of several exploratory flights he made in the Arctic at this time, and in the Antarctic (1928) he led an expedition to Grahamsland. In 1931 he tried unsuccessfully to navigate the submarine Nautilus under the North Pole.
Wilkins, John (1614–1672). English scientist. Son of a goldsmith, he studied at Oxford, graduating in 1631, entered the Church, and became warden of Wadham College in 1648. In 1659 he was made Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Though a supporter of Oliver *Cromwell (whose sister he married) he became Bishop of Chester in 1668. He took an early interest in science and his A Discourse Concerning a New Planet. Tending to prove, that ‘tis probable our Earth is one of the Planets (1640) was probably the first use of ‘Earth’ as a planetary name. He was a founder member (1660) of the Royal Society, a member of the Council and one of the secretaries. He took great interest in machines and technological improvements. He speculated about the moon possibly being inhabited. His Mathematical Magick (1648) analyses the principles of machines; Mercury, or the Secret and Swift Messenger suggests telegraphic communication. Perhaps his most important interest lay in attempts to construct a universal, rational language, spelt out in his An Essay towards a Real Character and Philosophical Language (1688).
Shapiro, B. J., John Wilkins. 1969.
Wilkins, Maurice Hugh Frederick (1916–2004). British physicist and molecular biologist, born in Pongaroa, New Zealand. His Irish parents moved to Birmingham in 1922 and he studied at Cambridge and Birmingham. At Kings College, London, he worked on X-ray diffraction studies of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), had a tense partnership with Rosalind *Franklin and stimulated the interest of James *Watson and Francis *Crick. The first to hypothesise a double helical structure for DNA molecules, Wilkins shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Crick and Watson ‘for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material’.
Wilkinson, John (1728–1808). English ironmaster, born in Cumberland. His improved methods for boring cannon led to the production of cylinders for high pressure steam engines and he worked with *Watt and *Boulton. He provided the iron for Abraham *Darby’s bridge at Coalbrookdale (1779).
Willard, Frances Elizabeth (Caroline) (1839–1898). American social reformer, born in New York. She became a teacher and was briefly Dean of Women at Northwestern University (1874). She was a co-founder (1874) of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), its secretary 1874–79 and president 1879–98. Using the slogan ‘Do everything’, she organised petitions, demonstrations, lobbying and publication in her advocacy of female suffrage and for ‘prohibition’ of the consumption of alcohol, which both became law decades after her death. She organised an international ‘Polyglot Petition’ (1883) against the drug trade and became a socialist in her last years. A powerful speaker and writer, Willard has been accused—probably unfairly—of linking alcohol with African-American crimes, thereby condoning lynching.
Willcocks, Sir David Valentine (1919–2015). English choral conductor, organist and teacher. After distinguished service in World War II (winning an MC in Normandy), he was director of music at King’s College, Cambridge 1957–73 and of the Royal College of Music, London 1974–84 and made outstanding CDs of *Bach, *Haydn, *Fauré and carol services.
Willem-Alexander (1967– ). King of the Netherlands 2013– . Son of Queen *Beatrix and Claus von Amsberg, he was educated at Leiden University and on his mother’s abdication became the first Dutch king since 1890.
William (known as ‘the Lion’) (1143–1214). King of Scotland 1166–1214. He was the grandson of *David I and brother of Malcolm IV, whom he succeeded. Angered by the refusal of *Henry II of England to restore the disputed territories of Northumberland and Cumberland, he allied himself with Henry’s rebellious sons but was captured at the siege of Alnwick. By the humiliating Treaty of Falkirk (1174) he was forced to do homage for his kingdom. From this obligation *Richard I’s monetary needs for the 3rd Crusade enabled him to escape, but renewed war with King *John compelled him to make another large payment to obtain peace. Before he died he had brought the Scottish lords under firm control.
William ‘the Silent’ (‘der Zweiger’, Willem VII van Nassau-Dillenburg) (1533–1584). Stadholder of Holland and Zeeland 1572–84, Count of Holland, Prince of Orange. Descendant of the Counts of Nassau, he inherited (1554) their estates in the Netherlands and Burgundy as well as the principality of Orange (in Provence). His parents were Lutheran but at the insistence of the emperor *Charles V, then holding court at Brussels, and whose page he became, he was educated as a Catholic. In 1559 he was made stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht by the emperor’s son, *Philip II of Spain, whom he served ably as a diplomat. He was horrified, however, by Spanish persecution of Protestants in the Netherlands. Failure to obtain an agreement which would secure toleration for all was followed (1567) by the arrival of the Duke of *Alba and the execution of Counts *Egmont and Horn. William, who had left the Netherlands in 1567, realised that the time for compromise had gone and made plans for a rising against Spain. His first invasion (1568) failed but in 1572 he returned, aided by an alliance with the Sea Beggars (Gueux), a group of rebels who had taken to the sea and who, in 1572, captured Briel (Brielle), a port on the Maas. He founded the University of Leiden in 1575. He maintained his struggle and in 1576, by the Pacification of Ghent, even managed to unite the northern and southern provinces against the Spaniards. Under Alba’s more conciliatory successor, the Duke of Parma, however, the Catholic provinces were regained for Spain, but by the Union of Utrecht (1579) the northern alliance was confirmed and strengthened. Anxious for French help, in 1580 William induced François, Duke of Anjou and Alençon, the surviving brother of King *Henri III, to accept sovereignty of the United Provinces. In February 1582, when the Duke arrived, it was clear that he was deeply unpopular and resented being offered limited powers. In March 1582 William was shot in the face, but survived. William resumed leadership as virtual head of state but was soon assassinated, in Delft, by Balthasar Gerard, a Catholic fanatic. In J. L. *Motley’s famous words: ‘As long as he lived, he was the guiding star of a whole brave nation, and when he died the little children cried in the streets’. The Orange family continued as a dominant force in Dutch politics.
Wedgwood, C. V., William the Silent. 1944; Jardine, L., The Awful End of William the Silent. 2005.
William I (Guillaume) (‘the Conqueror’) (1027–1087). King of England 1066–87, Duke of Normandy 1035–87. Illegitimate son of Robert ‘the Devil’, Duke of Normandy, he succeeded his father as Duke (1035), but 12 years of fighting followed before he fully established himself. The Normans (‘Norsemen’/’Northmen’; ‘Nortmanni’ in Latin) were the descendants of Vikings, who raided Normandy for decades and occupied it after 876. *Rollo, the great-great-great-grandfather of William, became Duke of Normandy in 911. William married (1053) Matilda, daughter of Baldwin, Count of Flanders. His claim to the English throne rested upon a promise said to have been made (with no legal authority) by his cousin, *Edward the Confessor, while William was paying him a visit. He also seems to have obtained under duress an oath of fealty from *Harold, who was in his power after being shipwrecked on the Normandy coast and his claim was supported by the pope. On hearing that Harold had proclaimed himself King, he prepared to invade and on 14 October 1066 won the decisive Battle of Hastings, in which Harold was killed. William himself was crowned at Westminster on Christmas Day but the conquest was not complete until 1070. There was little devastation except in the north where resistance was strongest. *Malcolm of Scotland submitted in 1072 and, for a time, *Hereward the Wake maintained a pocket of resistance in the East Anglian fens. Once in control of the country, William proved himself a wise, just and resourceful ruler. He abolished slavery and curbed the tyranny of local barons by concentrating power in royal hands organised on civil, not military lines. (In the 17th century the term ‘feudal system’ was applied to his rule but it had no contemporary meaning.) By replacing Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, by *Lanfranc he brought the English Church into closer touch with that of the Continent, but he strongly resisted the authoritarian claims of papacy. In 1086 he ordered the compiling of the Domesday Book, which recorded the value of royal, baronial and Church lands and the distribution of the population. In his later years he had to contend with the intrigues of his half-brother *Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, and the disloyalty of his own eldest son Robert. After falling from a horse in Mantes, he died in Rouen and was buried in Caen.
Douglas, D. C., William the Conqueror. 1964; Bates, D., William the Conqueror. 2001; Hilliam, P., William the Conqueror. 2005.
William I and II of Germany see Wilhelm I and II
William II (Rufus) (c.1056–1100). King of England 1087–1100. Called Rufus for his red hair, he was the second surviving son of *William the Conqueror, whom he succeeded as King. Normandy had passed to the elder son Robert, on which account the two brothers were in constant feud until the duchy finally fell into William’s hands (1096), Robert having been forced to ‘pawn’ it to enable him to go on the 1st Crusade. William was ruthless and brutal, he quarrelled with his great archbishop of Canterbury, *Anselm, but was an able soldier, held the barons in check and maintained firm if extortionate rule through his chief minister Rannulf *Flambard. He was accidentally shot while hunting in the New Forest by his companion Walter Tirel.
Slocombe, G., Sons of the Conqueror. 1960.
William III (Willem Hendrik van Oranje-Nassau) (1650–1702). King of England, Scotland and Ireland 1689–1702, Prince of Orange 1650–1702. Born in The Hague, the posthumous son of William (Willem) II of Orange and Mary, daughter of *Charles I of Great Britain, he was chosen stadholder of the United Provinces after the murder (1672) of *de Witt. A dour Calvinist, he brought the long struggle with *Louis XIV of France to an end by the honourable Peace of Nijmegen (1678), having meanwhile strengthened his position by marriage (1677) with the British princess *Mary, daughter of the future *James II. He formed (1686) the Grand Alliance to combat Louis’ renewed aggression and, seeking fresh allies, was glad, therefore, to accept an invitation from England to intervene on behalf of ‘English liberties’ endangered by his father-in-law James II. He landed at Torbay (November 1688) with an army of 15,000 and quickly gained almost universal support. James fled to France, a convention parliament declared the throne vacant and in February 1689 William and Mary were proclaimed joint sovereigns. Resistance in Scotland was all but ended by the death of ‘Bonnie *Dundee’ at the Battle of Killicrankie (1689) and in Ireland he defeated James’ army in the Battle of the Boyne (July 1690); all resistance ended after the surrender of Limerick (1691). William, his power limited by the Bill of Rights (1689), neither liked, nor was liked by, his new subjects and his popularity waned further after the death of Mary (1694). He refused to commit himself to a single party and his administration included politicians from both Whigs and Tories. The foundation of the Bank of England and the start of the National Debt were of more interest to future generations than to his own. In 1695, apparently through inadvertence, the licensing of printing presses ended, enabling the creation of newspapers and journals. An able strategist, William’s principal aim was to contain French power. He won a decisive victory at Namur (1695) and the continental war ended with the Treaty of Ryswick (1697). Another continental war (of the Spanish Succession) was about start when he died. His horse fell at a mole burrow, he broke a collar bone and died of pneumonia. (Jacobites toasted the mole: ‘The little gentleman in black velvet’.)
Baxter, S. B., William III. 1966; Claydon, T., William III: Profiles in Power. 2002; Troost, W., William III, the Stadholder-king: A Political Biography. 2005.
William IV (William Henry) (1767–1837). King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King of Hanover 1830–37. Born in London, he was the third son of *George III, created Duke of Clarence in 1789. His career in the navy earned him the nickname of ‘the sailor king’. He became titular Admiral of the Fleet (1811) and the office of ‘Lord High Admiral’ was revived for him 1827–28. In 1811 he parted from his mistress, the actor Mrs Dorothea Jordan (1762–1816) who had borne him 10 children. In 1818 he married *Adelaide, daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, but both their daughters died in infancy. On the death of the Duke of *York (1827) he became heir presumptive and in 1830 succeeded *George IV. As King he objected strongly to Earl *Grey’s Parliamentary Reform Bill of 1832 but eventually promised to create as many peers as might be necessary to secure its passage through the House of Lords. He did not have to act on his promise because enough peers abstained to allow the bill to pass. His outspokenness and eccentric remarks (hence the description ‘Silly Billy’) were often an embarrassment to his ministers but he strictly observed the constitutional proprieties. He was succeeded by his niece, *Victoria.
William of Malmesbury (c.1095–c.1143). English historian. A monk, he compiled accurate and impartial histories, notably the Gesta regum Anglorum, the story of the English kings to 1128, continued in Historia novella (up to 1142). He also wrote accounts of the bishops and monasteries and a life of St *Dunstan.
William of Ockham (or Occam) see Ockham, William of
William of Wayneflete see Waynflete
William of Wykeham see Wykeham
William Arthur Philip Louis, Duke of Cambridge (1982– ). British prince, born in London. Son of *Charles, Prince of Wales and *Diana, formerly Princess of Wales, second in line for the throne, he graduated from St Andrews University and became a helicopter pilot in the RAF. In April 2011 he married Catherine Middleton (1982– ) at Westminster Abbey. A royal prince, George Alexander Louis, third in line for the throne, was born in July 2013.
Williams, (George) Emlyn (1905–1987). Welsh actor and playwright. His successful plays included Night Must Fall (1935) and The Corn is Green (1941). He acted in his own and other plays including those of *Shakespeare and later his dramatised readings of *Dickens and Dylan *Thomas were widely acclaimed. His sensitive autobiography, George, 1961, related the stages by which he emerged from a poor home in Wales to Oxford University and success on the stage.
Williams, Fred(erick Ronald) (1927–1982). Australian painter and graphic artist, born in Melbourne. He trained in Melbourne and London, evolving a spare, almost calligraphic, style that captured the strangeness and isolation of the Australian landscape. His Upwey Landscape (1965) sold for $AU1,987,000 in 2006 and You Yangs Landscape 1 (1963) for $AU2.9 million in 2013.
McCaughey, P., Fred Williams. 1980, revised 2008; Mollison, J., A singular vision: The art of Fred Williams. 1989.
Williams, Roger (c.1603–1683). American colonist. He emigrated (1630) from England to Massachusetts, but was expelled through the intolerance of its Puritan rulers. He then established the new colony (chartered 1644) of Rhode Island with complete religious freedom. He epitomised his views in The Bloudy Tenent on Persecution (1644) and many pamphlets, and also wrote A Key into the Language of America (1643), a remarkable grammar of Indian languages.
Williams, Rowan Douglas, Baron Williams of Oystermouth (1950– ). Welsh cleric, theologian, poet and translator, born in Swansea. Educated at Cambridge and Oxford, he was ordained in 1978 and became Bishop of Monmouth 1992–2002, Archbishop of Wales 2000–02 and Archbishop of Canterbury 2002–12. His books include Grace and Necessity (2005), Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction (2008), and several volumes of poetry. Created a Privy Counsellor, awarded the Royal Victorian Chain and a peerage (2012), he became Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge 2013– .
Williams, Shirley Vivien Teresa Brittain (née Catlin), Baroness Williams (1930– ). British politician. Daughter of the novelist and pacifist Vera *Brittain, she was educated at Oxford and Columbia Universities and became secretary of the Fabian Society 1960–64. Elected a Labour MP 1964–79, from 1966 she held junior ministerial posts, becoming Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection 1974–76 and Secretary of State for Education and Science 1976–79. Defeated in 1979, she was a co-founder of the Social Democrats, re-elected as MP (November 1981) in a by-election, losing in 1983. She went to the House of Lords in 1993. She married (1) the political philosopher Bernard Williams and (2) historian Richard Neustadt.
Williams, Tennessee (Thomas Laniel Williams) (1914–1983). American playwright. He first came into prominence with The Glass Menagerie (1945). This was followed by a series of major successes, most of them set in sordid surroundings in the Deep South in an atmosphere of impending tragedy with sex as a dominating theme. Among the best known are A Streetcar Named Desire (1947, it won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Drama), The Rose Tattoo (1951), Camino Real (1953), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955, also a Pulitzer Prize winner), and Sweet Bird of Youth (1958). He also wrote screenplays, short stories and novels.
Spoto, D., The Kindness of Strangers. 1985; Lahr, J., Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh. 2014.
Williams-Ellis, Sir Clough (1883–1978). Welsh architect and environmentalist. An innovative designer, conservationist and town planner, he was a prolific writer and propagandist who created the model resort village of Portmeirion, North Wales. He coined the term and concept of ‘national estate’.
Williamson, David Keith (1942– ). Australian playwright, born in Melbourne. Trained as an engineer, his plays—several of them filmed—include The Removalists (1971), Don’s Party (1973), The Club (1977), Dead White Males (1995), Don Parties On (2011) and Managing Carmen (2012). He was also a successful film script writer.
Williamson, Henry (1897–1977). English author and naturalist. He wrote successful books over a long period but it was by Tarka the Otter (1927) that he became renowned and is still best remembered.
Willingdon, 1st Marquess of, Freeman Freeman-Thomas (1866–1941). English Liberal politician, born in Sussex. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, he became MP 1900–06, 1906–10; Governor of Bombay 1913–19; and of Madras 1919–24. He served as Governor-General of Canada 1926–31 and Viceroy of India 1931–36 at the time of *Gandhi’s civil disobedience campaigns. Created baron (1910), viscount (1924), and earl (1931), he was the last person raised to a marquessate (1936).
Willis, Thomas (1621–1675). English physician. One of the leading anatomists of the 17th century, and a pioneer student of the nerves and brain, he graduated BA at Christ Church Oxford in 1636, and turned to medicine, getting his MB in 1646. Willis practised medicine in Oxford, and in 1660 became Sedleian professor of natural philosophy. He was an early member of the Royal Society and in the 1660s he moved his medical practice to London. His most important work is the Cerebri Anatome (1664), the best anatomical account of the brain yet published. He offered new descriptions of the cranial nerves and described cerebral circulation. Willis also pioneered the clinical and pathological analysis of diabetes. He produced accurate descriptions of many fevers, such as typhus and typhoid, and puerperal fever, making considerable contributions to epidemiology.
Willkie, Wendell Lewis (1892–1944). American lawyer and Republican candidate, born in Indiana. A successful lawyer, active in the Democratic Party until 1939, although supporting many of Franklin D. *Roosevelt’s social goals, as President of the Commonwealth and Southern Corporation 1933–40 he became an outspoken critic of New Deal business regulation. He joined the Republican Party only a few months before winning its nomination for President at the Convention in Philadelphia, on the sixth ballot, defeating Robert A. *Taft and Thomas *Dewey, after a campaign run by amateurs. In November he lost to Roosevelt by 22 million votes to 27 million. He attacked isolationists in his own party and provided strong support for US entry into World War II. After visiting China, Russia and Britain (1942) he wrote One World (1943), a passionate appeal for post-war international cooperation. In 1944 he polled poorly in Republican presidential primaries and withdrew his nomination shortly before his sudden death from heart disease.
Fullilove, M., Rendezvous with Destiny. 2013; Lewis, D. L., The Improbable Wendell Willkie. 2018.
Wills, William John see Burke, Robert O’Hara
Wills Moody, Helen (Helen Newington Moody Roark, née Wills) (1905–1998). American lawn tennis player. With Suzanne *Lenglen she could claim to have brought lawn tennis for women up to modern championship standards, but unlike her rival she showed a ‘poker face’ whatever the fortunes or incidents of the game. She dominated the tournaments of America, England and France from 1923 to 1938.
Wilmington, 1st Earl of, Spencer Compton (1673–1743). English Whig politician. Son of the Earl of Northampton, he came from a Tory family but became a Whig and had a 40-year partnership (often uneasy) with Robert *Walpole. Speaker of the House of Commons 1715–27, he was Lord President of the Council 1730–42, and succeeded Walpole as First Lord of the Treasury (i.e. Prime Minister) 1742–43, although Earl *Granville was the de facto leader. Regarded as a plodder, he died in office, unmarried.
Wilson, Sir Angus Frank Johnstone (1913–1991). British author. Known for short stories and for satirical novels, e.g. Hemlock and After (1952) and Anglo-Saxon Attitudes (1956), he also wrote literary biographies: The World of Charles Dickens (1970) and The Strange Ride of Rudyard Kipling (1977).
Wilson, Charles Thomson Rees (1869–1959). Scottish physicist. From 1895 he worked in the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge and held a professorship there 1925–34. He invented the ‘cloud chamber’ in which the behaviour of ionised particles can be observed and photographed by the tracks they make in supersaturated air. He shared the Nobel Prize for Physics (1927) with *Compton. Other honours included the Hughes Medal (1911), the Royal Society’s Royal Medal (1922) and Copley Medal (1935) and a CH (1937).
Wilson, Edmund (1895–1972). American literary critic, born in New Jersey. Educated at Princeton, he began as a journalist, then developed as a critic of encyclopaedic range, recognised as the greatest American man of letters of his time. He worked as Associate Editor of New Republic (1926–31), and was book reviewer on The New Yorker. In 1938 he married Mary *McCarthy, third of his four wives. His books include To the Finland Station, a study in the writing and acting of history (1940, a historical study of socialism until 1917), Memoirs of Hecate County (1946, short stories), The Scrolls from the Dead Sea (1955) and Patriotic Gore (1962, civil war literature). His literary criticism include Axel’s Castle (1931), a definitive analysis of the Symbolists, The Wound and the Bow (1941) and an anthology, The Shock of Recognition (1943). His revealing journals, kept from the 1920s, appeared in five volumes.
Meyers, J., Edmund Wilson: A Biography. 1995.
Wilson, Edmund B(eecher) (1856–1939). American zoologist, born in Illinois. From a rich family, he studied at Yale, Johns Hopkins (PhD 1881), Cambridge and Leipzig. After teaching at Bryn Mawr, he held a chair at Columbia University 1891–1928. The study of cells preoccupied Wilson, gradually heading him to concentrate upon the problems of genetics and heredity. The Cell in Development and Inheritance (1896) was a pioneering contribution to understanding how cells work, especially the sex chromosomes. He was an enthusiastic supporter of Mendelian theory, and carried out extensive experimental research to work out the chromosomal theory of sex determination in detail. T. H. *Morgan built his experiments on fruit flies upon these foundations. Wilson was concerned to depict the cell as a flexible, developing entity, and to chart the emergence of the cell as part of evolutionary descent. He was not, however, a wholehearted Darwinian, believing that *Darwin had over-stressed the role played by natural selection.
Wilson, Edward Osborne (1929– ). American zoologist. Professor of zoology 1964–76 and of entomology 1976–96 at Harvard University, he investigated social insects. His book Sociobiology: the New Synthesis (1975) proposed a unified, but intensely controversial, science of social behaviour that applied to all species (including humans). He won Pulitzer Prizes with On Human Nature (1978) and The Ants (1990) and also wrote The Diversity of Life (1992).
Wilson, (James) Harold, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx (1916–1995). British Labour politician, born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. Educated at Wirral Grammar School and Oxford University, where he later lectured on economics, he served in the ministry of fuel during World War II. A Labour MP 1945–83, he became, at 31, *Attlee’s President of the Board of Trade 1947–51 (the youngest Cabinet minister since *Pitt) but resigned in protest against increased charges for social services to help pay for armaments. Under *Gaitskell, Wilson was the Opposition’s Shadow Chancellor and regarded as leader of the Left after *Bevan moved towards the centre. After Gaitskell’s sudden death Wilson was elected Labour’s leader 1963–76. When Labour won the October 1964 election, with 317 seats to 304 for Alec Douglas-*Home’s Conservatives, he became Prime Minister 1964–70. Inflation and unemployment levels were low, the death penalty was abolished, laws on homosexuality were relaxed and interventionist economic policies were modified. He resisted US pressure for Britain to participate in the Vietnam war but sent troops to Northern Ireland to cope with ‘the Troubles’. Parliament was dissolved early and the ensuing election (March 1966) gave him a majority of 96. In June 1970 Labour was defeated when the Conservatives, led by Edward *Heath, won 46.4 per cent of the popular vote and a 42 seat majority. In February 1974, Labour won a four seat majority in the House of Commons (although the Tories led slightly in the popular vote) and Wilson became Prime Minister again 1974–76. In October 1974 Wilson called a second election, increasing his majority to 42 seats, with a 2 per cent swing. He resigned as Prime Minister in April 1976 (being succeeded by James *Callaghan),was made a KG (1976) and a peer (1983), then had a slow decline into Alzheimer’s disease.
Pimlott, B., Harold Wilson. 1992; Ziegler, P., Wilson. 1993; Wheen, F., Strange Days Indeed. 2009.
Wilson, Sir Henry Hughes, 1st Baronet (1864–1922). British field marshal, born in Ireland. He commanded the Camberley Staff College 1907–10 and, as Director of Military Operations at the War Office 1910–14, developed close working relations with the French, especially *Foch, and was the chief liaison officer during World War I. In February 1918 *Lloyd George appointed him to succeed *Robertson as Chief of the Imperial General Staff and he served until 1922. As a ‘political’ soldier he was viewed with suspicion by many army colleagues. He broke with Lloyd George, fantasising that he was under Bolshevik influence and saw himself as a potential *Cromwell. Elected as MP for North Down in 1922, he was assassinated in London by two Sinn Féin gunmen.
Wilson, Henry Maitland Wilson, 1st Baron (1881–1964). British field marshal. After serving in the Boer War and World War I, ‘Jumbo’ Wilson (called for his size) commanded British troops in Egypt (1939–40), then Greece, Syria and Iraq (1941–42). He succeeded *Alexander in the Middle East command (1943) and from 1944 was in control of all Allied operations in the Mediterranean area.
Wilson, Kenneth Geddes (1936–2013). American physicist. Professor at Cornell 1963–88, he developed a theory of second order phase transitions in matter and received the 1982 Nobel Prize for Physics. He then devoted himself to studying education in schools.
Wilson, Pete (1933– ). American Republican politician. Mayor of San Diego 1971–83, he served as US Senator 1983–90 and Governor of California 1991–99.
Wilson, (Thomas) Woodrow (1856–1924). 28th President of the US 1913–21. He was born at Staunton, Virginia, the son of a Presbyterian minister of Ulster and Scottish ancestry. After graduating at Princeton University, he briefly practised law and studied further at Johns Hopkins University. Deeply influenced by *Gladstone, he became increasingly prominent in the academic world during the next 25 years. After being professor of jurisprudence and political economy at Princeton (from 1890) he became its president in 1902. He instituted many reforms in the teaching system but his more liberal plans were rebuffed. In 1910 he was nominated as Democratic candidate for Governor of New Jersey by party bosses who hoped he would be easy to control, won election and served 1911–13. As Governor he instituted a full liberal program including Corrupt Practices and Employers’ Liability Acts. In 1912, supported by party liberals he won the Democratic presidential nomination at Baltimore on the 46th ballot, and was elected in November with 42 per cent of the votes, due to the Republican split between President *Taft and Theodore *Roosevelt. As President, Wilson continued his policy of reform (the ‘New Freedom’) with such measures as Workers’ Compensation and Child Welfare Acts. Three Constitutional amendments were adopted during his Presidency: direct popular election of Senators (1913), prohibition of alcoholic beverages (1919), and votes for women (1920). After World War I broke out in 1914, Wilson maintained formal neutrality but indicated sympathy for the Allied cause. In 1916 he was re-elected on the campaign theme ‘He kept us out of war’. However, Germany’s disregard for common humanity and neutral rights shown by the torpedoing of the Lusitania (1915) and the sinking of several American ships and some explosions in US factories led to Wilson’s successful appeal to Congress (‘The world must be made safe for democracy’) for a declaration of war (April 1917). Wilson soon asserted moral leadership of the Allies and in January 1918 set out his famous ‘Fourteen Points’, including establishment of a League of Nations, as the basis of a just and lasting peace. He attended the Paris Peace Conference (1919), the first time a president ever left the US during his term in office, but Wilson was gravely weakened (April 1919) by catching influenza during the great pandemic. The US had the highest principles but the least direct involvement and Wilson was soon outmanoeuvred by the advocates of a harsh peace, *Clemenceau, *Lloyd George and *Orlando. The Treaty of Versailles (June 1919) imposed severe sanctions on Germany but endorsed the League of Nations. Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel Prize for Peace. However, he faced a significant revival of isolationist sentiment at home. He undertook a speaking tour in the mid-West to support the Treaty, collapsed in Colorado in September 1919 and in October suffered a stroke from which he never recovered. The extent of his illness was kept from the public and conduct of affairs passed to Edith Bolling Galt Wilson (1872–1961), his second wife, and his secretary, Joseph Tumulty (1879–1954). In March 1920, the Senate voted by 49 to 35 to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, seven short of the two-thirds majority required. Thus the US never joined the League of Nations and Wilson’s plan for international collective security was fatally weakened from the outset. Wilson retired in Washington, died and was buried there. He was a powerful influence on Franklin D. *Roosevelt. Despite his tragic failures, in 20 Presidential ranking lists by US historians and political scientists, Wilson scored No. 7 in the aggregate, more recent assessments judging harshly his passive support for racial segregation.
Link, A. S., Woodrow Wilson. 1968; Berg, A. S., Wilson. 2013.
Winant, (John) Gilbert (1889–1947). American Republican politician. Governor of New Hampshire 1925–27, 1931–33, he was appointed by Franklin *Roosevelt as head of the Social Security Board 1935–37. He directed the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva 1939–41 then became US Ambassador to Great Britain 1941–46, urging strong support for *Churchill. US Representative to UNESCO 1946, and awarded an honorary OM in 1947, he became profoundly depressed and shot himself.
Winckelmann, Johann Joachim (1717–1768). German archaeologist, critic, art historian and consultant, born in Prussia. Son of a cobbler, he had to struggle to obtain an education and it was only after 15 years as tutor and schoolmaster and much study that he realised his ambition of going to Rome (1755). He became a librarian in the Vatican and secretary to the great collector Cardinal Alessandro Albani. His History of Ancient Art (1764) and Reflections on the Painting and Sculpture of the Greeks (1765) were extremely influential in reviving popular interest in the art of Greece (which he never visited). He wrote extensively about the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum and has been called the ‘father of modern archaeology’. *Goethe compared him to *Columbus. A great writer and a profound thinker, he was stabbed to death in Trieste by a homosexual acquaintance.
Leppman, W., Winckelmann. 1970.
Windsor. British dynastic name adopted in 1917 when *George V gave up his German titles. (The previous name was *Wettin, the family of Prince *Albert, but invariably described as *Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.) In 1960 it was announced that descendants of Queen *Elizabeth II and Prince *Philip, other than those styled princes and princesses, should bear the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.
Windsor, Duke of see Edward VIII
Winfrey, Oprah (Gail) (1954– ). American producer, television host, promoter, publisher, actor and philanthropist, born in Mississippi. Educated in Tennessee, she worked in media in Chicago. The Oprah Winfrey Show, on television, 1986–2011, had a major social, political and cultural impact, discussing sexuality, race, women’s liberation, ‘self-help’, literature and values. Recognised as one of the world’s most influential women, she was a strong supporter of *Obama, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.
Wingate, Orde Charles (1903–1944). British soldier. He served as an officer in British army intelligence in Palestine (1936–39) but was repatriated for his pro-Zionist activities. In Palestine he met and impressed *Wavell who sent him first to Ethiopia (1940) to organise guerrillas against the Italians and, in 1942, to India to conduct similar operations behind the Japanese lines in Burma. After careful training and practice, the first raid of Wingate and his ‘Chindits’ was made early in 1943. When Wingate with some 60 per cent of his original force returned in May he had proved that a force could live and fight for several weeks sustained only by supplies hazardously brought by air. Now hailed as a hero, Wingate persuaded *Churchill and *Roosevelt to allow him to command a large force of more than 20 battalions, British, Gurkhas and Nigerians, which should be dropped from the air to form an enclave behind the Japanese lines. The drop successfully took place, but, while Wingate was returning from a conference to discuss subsequent difficulties and delays, his aircraft crashed into a hill and he was killed. Courageous and imaginative, he was intolerant of opposition but was able to win and sustain the enthusiasm of political leaders as well as troops.
Sykes, C., Orde Wingate. 1959.
Wingate, Sir (Francis) Reginald, 1st Baronet (1861–1953). British general and administrator. He served in India and Aden before being posted to the Egyptian army. His record there led to his appointment as Governor-General of the Sudan in 1899–1916 where he created an efficient administrative structure. As High Commissioner to Egypt 1917–19, he was virtual ruler, collaborated with *Allenby in supporting the Arab revolt and began negotiations with *Zaghlul and the Wafd party.
Wingate, F. R., Wingate of the Sudan. 1955.
Winstanley, Gerrard (1609–1676). English ‘leveller’, born in Lancashire. A failed cloth merchant, in 1649, with William Everard he led a group of ‘diggers’ who asserted their right to cultivate wasteland at Waltham-on-Thames and Cobham until dispersed by force and wrote six interesting tracts calling for communal ownership and the abolition of hierarchies. His Law of Freedom in a Platform (1652), dedicated to *Cromwell, advocated a Communist society. He also wrote on religion and was a forerunner of the Quakers.
Wint, Peter de (1784–1849). English water colourist. Of Dutch descent, he illustrated many aspects of English landscape and rural life. Among his paintings are The Hay Harvest, Nottingham, Richmond Hill and Cows in Water.
Winterhalter, Franz Xavier (1806–1873). German painter. He became famous for his royal portraits, e.g. of *Louis Philippe of France, *Napoléon III and the Empress *Eugènie, the Empress *Elizabeth of Austria, *Leopold I of the Belgians and Queen *Victoria, Prince *Albert and the British royal family.
Winthrop, John (1588–1649). American colonist. An Englishman by birth, a Puritan by religion, prosperous both as lawyer and Suffolk landowner, he sponsored the Massachusetts emigration scheme and went there as its first governor in 1630, an office which he held until 1633 and from 1637 until his death. Many of the social and political institutions of Massachusetts preserved his memory but the rigid Puritanism of the administration caused many to leave the colony. Winthrop’s diary is an important authority for the early period of American history. His son, John Winthrop (1606–1676), a chemist and first American Fellow of the Royal Society, established the first iron furnaces in Massachusetts. He became Governor of Connecticut 1660–76.
Morgan, E. S., The Puritan Dilemma. 1958.
Winton, Tim(othy) (1960– ). Australian novelist. His books include Cloudstreet (1991), The Riders (1994, later a successful opera (2014), music by Iain Grandage, libretto by Alison Croggan), The Deep (1998), Dirt Music (2001), The Turning (2004) and Breath (2008).
Wiseman, Nicholas Patrick Stephen (1802–1865). Anglo-Irish cardinal, born in Seville. Of Irish descent, he was educated for the priesthood at the English College in Rome, becoming rector in 1828. Realising the way for a revival in England had been prepared by the Tractarian movement in the Church of England (*Keble, *Newman, *Pusey) he went there in 1840, became vicar-apostolic in London (1848) and in 1850 *Pius IX created him cardinal and Archbishop of Westminster, re-establishing the Catholic hierarchy in England after 292 years.
Withering, William (1741–1799). English botanist, born in Wellington. Son of an apothecary, he trained in medicine at Edinburgh University, graduating MD in 1766. Withering practised first in Stafford and then in Birmingham. He became an active member of the Lunar Society alongside Erasmus *Darwin, Joseph *Priestley and Josiah *Wedgwood. Withering is important in the history of botany for his A Botanical Arrangement of all the Vegetables Naturally Growing in Great Britain (1776), which made early use of the Linnaean method of classification. He also performed useful chemical and mineralogical analysis, and translated Torbern Bergman’s Mineralogy. His most original scientific work was his championing of digitalis, derived from foxglove, as a specific for diseases ranging from dropsy to heart trouble. A slightly querulous man, Withering spent the last years of his life in bitter controversy with Erasmus Darwin and his son.
Peck, T. W. and Wilkinson, K. D., William Withering. 1950.
Witt, Johan de see de Witt, Johan
Witte, Sergei Yulievich, Count (1849–1915). Russian statesman. At first an official in the railway administration, he was appointed Minister of Finance (1892). He introduced various financial reforms, sponsored the building of the Trans-Siberian Railway and promoted industrial development. He lost favour and was dismissed (1903), but was recalled to negotiate peace with Japan (1905). The terms he secured in the Treaty of Portsmouth (1905) were more favourable than had been expected, and his reputation was enhanced. Created a count in recognition, he persuaded the tsar *Nikolai II to sign the Manifesto of 1905 promising to set up a Duma (parliament) that had elements of constitutional government. He became Premier (1905) but resigned almost immediately when he failed to obtain the support of the Duma. He was followed shortly by the more conservative *Stolypin.
von Lane, T., Sergei Witte and the Industrialisation of Russia. 1963.
Wittelsbach. German dynasty. It enters history in the 11th century, taking its name from a castle in west Bavaria. Later there were numerous branches, the most important of which ruled in the Palatinate and (eventually as kings) in Bavaria. From the former branch, through *Elizabeth, daughter of *James I, stem the present British royal house and (after the failure of the royal Stuart line) the later Jacobite pretenders.
Wittgenstein, Ludwig Josef Johann (1889–1951). Austrian philosopher (naturalised British 1938), born in Vienna. His affluent family, originally Jewish, became Catholics in the 1830s, and his father Karl Wittgenstein (1847–1913) made a great fortune in the steel industry. Ludwig attended the Linz Realschule (*Hitler was a fellow student), the Berlin Technical High School and Manchester University where he studied engineering. Influenced by the writer Karl *Kraus, he later became interested in mathematics and at Cambridge worked with Bertrand *Russell. He served as an Austrian officer in World War I, then worked in Vienna as a school teacher and architect. His Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) presents a system usually described as logical atomism, comprising a theory of language and a closely related physical view of the world. Language is seen as basically made up of simple propositions, which are immediately meaningful because they picture (or have the same structure as) simple or ultimate facts. The Tractatus, notoriously difficult to interpret, also contains, among other doctrines, the view that the only meaningful assertions are either factual or strictly logical ones. It thus anticipates the central meaning of the theory of logical positivism. He returned to Cambridge in 1929, took out his PhD and became a Fellow of Trinity College 1930–36, 1939–51. He succeeded G. E. *Moore as professor of philosophy 1939–49. Wittgenstein’s later work, published posthumously, is contained in The Blue and Brown Books (1958) and Philosophical Investigations (1953). It includes a rejection of his earlier view of language, eschews metaphysical speculation about ultimate facts and offers reflections on the nature of philosophy. Language is now seen to have a large number of functions, including promise-making and giving orders, for example. It is absurd, Wittgenstein argues, to assimilate all these to the business of stating facts. They are like games, which overlap in various ways but have no common character. Philosophy, he suggests, should be an attempt to clear up puzzles that have arisen, at least in part, through linguistic confusions. The concern of recent British philosophers with the clarification of concepts owes much to Wittgenstein’s inspiration. His brother Paul Wittgenstein (1887–1961) was a pianist who lost his right arm in World War I and commissioned works for the left hand from *Ravel, Richard *Strauss, *Prokofiev, *Korngold, *Hindemith and *Britten.
Fann, K. T., Wittgenstein’s Conception of Philosophy. 1969; Monk, R., Ludwig Wittgenstein. 1990; Edmonds, D. and Eidinow, J., Wittgenstein’s Poker. 2001.
Wladislaw. Four Polish kings. Wladislaw I (known as the ‘the Short’) (1260–1333, reigned from 1320) was instrumental in restoring the kingdom. Wladislaw II (Jagiello) (1350–1434, reigned from 1386), a grand duke of Lithuania, married the Polish queen *Jadwiga. He checked the power of the Teutonic knights and agreed to the conversion of the Lithuanian subjects to Christianity, Wladislaw III (1424–1444, King of Poland from 1434 and of Hungary from 1440) led two crusades against the Turks. The reign of Wladislaw IV (1595–1648, reigned from 1632) was one of internal turmoil and external wars.
Wodehouse, P(elham) G(renville) (1881–1975). English-American novelist and playwright, born in Guildford. From a family of dispossessed landed gentry, he was educated at Dulwich College, worked as a bank clerk, then began writing boys’ stories. He moved to New York in 1909, lived there throughout World War I, and became successful as a musical comedy librettist (with Cole *Porter, George *Gershwin, Irving *Berlin and Jerome *Kern), and author of humorous serials for magazines, featuring such characters as Psmith, Ukridge, Mr Mulliner and the Earl of Emsworth. He wrote 96 books and developed a unique prose style. By weaving his consummately stylish humorous fancies round a few brilliantly conceived characters (caricatures even when they first appeared) and by never seriously altering the character of his dialogue, he maintained an almost unparalleled popularity for more than half a century. Bertie Wooster and his omniscient manservant Jeeves (who first appeared in 1915) were successfully adapted for television. Among his best books were The Code of the Woosters (1938), Uncle Fred in the Springtime (1939) and Joy in the Morning (1947). His finest musical was Anything Goes (1934), written with Cole Porter. He lived in France from 1935, seemed oddly unaware that World War II was about to begin, was interned by the Germans in France in 1940, then held for a year in Belgium and Silesia. He made five wartime broadcasts for the Germans, evidence of extreme naivété, and never lived in England again. He became a US citizen in 1955 and was awarded an Hon. KBE just before his death. His admirers included W. H. *Auden, T. S. *Eliot, Aldous *Huxley, Evelyn *Waugh, George *Orwell, Ludwig *Wittgenstein, J. K. *Rowling and John *Le Carré.
Jasen, D. A., P. G. Wodehouse: A Portrait of a Master. 1975; McCrum, R., Wodehouse: A Life. 2004; Ratcliffe, S. (ed.), P. G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters. 2013.
Wöhler, Friedrich (1800–1882). German chemist. Trained in medicine he turned to chemistry, of which he was professor at Göttingen 1836–82. He was the first (1827) to isolate aluminium by reduction of its anhydrous chloride with potassium and he used similar means to isolate beryllium (1829). He was the first to make calcium carbide, from which he prepared acetylene, and he also improved the method of manufacturing sulphur. His synthesis of urea from ammonium cyanate by intermolecular re-arrangement (1828) disproved the theory that organic compounds could be produced only by living organisms. Many other examples of such synthesis followed, opening a new era in organic chemistry.
Wolf, Hugo (Philipp Jakob) (1860–1903). Austrian composer. He contracted syphilis in 1878 and became manic depressive from 1890. His dismissal for insubordination while a student at the Vienna Conservatoire was followed by a period of precarious living. In the many songs he then wrote, the influence of *Schumann is especially evident. As music critic of the Wiener Salonblatt (1884–87) he made many enemies by his savage attacks on *Brahms and his circle and by his wholehearted support of *Wagner. His best known works are song collections: 51 settings of Mörike (1888), 20 of Eichendorff (1880–88), and 51 of *Goethe (1888–89). The Spanisches Liederbuch, 54 poems (1889–90) and the Italianisches Liederbuch, 46 poems (1890–91, 1896) set translations by Paul *Heyse. Wolf also wrote an opera, The Corregidor (1895) and the Italian Serenade for string quartet (1887). In 1897 he became insane and, after a brief period of recovery, ended his life in an asylum. His songs, among the greatest written, represent a unique blend of poetry and music into an organic whole, achieved by a close interdependence of the voice and piano parts and his own imaginative response to the written word.
Wolfe, James (1727–1759). British soldier, born at Westerham, Kent. While still a boy he adopted his father’s profession of soldier and he was only 17 when he took part in the Battle of Dettingen as a regimental adjutant. He fought at Falkirk and Culloden (against the Jacobites) and on the Continent. After the opening of the Seven Years’ War (1756) he was chosen by Pitt to command a brigade in *Amherst’s expedition against Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. Hailed for the skill and heroism that led to the fall of Louisburg (1758) he was given command of the expedition sent to capture Québec and end French rule in Canada. He finally achieved success (September 1759) by the discovery of a steep unguarded path that enabled him to land his troops and scale the cliffs of the St Lawrence River unobserved. The armies met on the Plains of Abraham outside the city. Both commanders, the French general *Montcalm and Wolfe were killed in battle but Wolfe lived long enough to hear of his complete victory. He was only 32, one of the youngest and most famous of British generals.
Grinnell-Milne, D., Mad is He? 1963.
Wolfe, Thomas (1900–1938). American novelist, born in Ashville, North Carolina. Look Homeward, Angel (1929) was the first of his mainly autobiographical novels, giving portrayals of life in a small Southern town. Of Time and the River was published in 1935, The Web and the Rock, You Can’t Go Home Again and The Hills Beyond appeared posthumously.
Donald, D. H. Look Homeward: a Life of Thomas Wolfe. 1987.
Wolfe, Tom (Thomas Kennerly, Jr) (1931–2018). American journalist. One of the originators of ‘new journalism’, he wrote biting studies of contemporary American culture. His books include The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965), Radical Chic and Mau-mauing the Flak Catchers (1970), The Right Stuff (1975), The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987, novel), and A Man in Full (1998, novel).
Wolfensohn, James David (1933– ). American-Australian banker, born in Sydney. Educated at Sydney University, from 1968 he pursued an international banking career in London and New York, and was President of the World Bank 1995–2005.
Wolff, Kaspar Friedrich (1733–1794). German physiologist. One of the 18th-century pioneers of embryology, having studied at Berlin and Halle, he graduated in 1759. He served for a time as an army surgeon and developed a Berlin private practice. In 1767 he moved to St Petersburg as an Academician in Anatomy and Physiology. He researched there continuously until his death. Wolff’s work in embryology challenged the ‘preformationist’ hypothesis (which held that the embryo contained in miniature all the parts of the adult-to-be, ready formed). Wolff adopted the counter position that the embryo contained as yet undifferentiated tissue. He tried to show that the growing tips of plants contain undifferentiated tissue which only gradually unfolds into the distinct parts, such as leaf and flower. This more ‘evolutionist’ account came to dominate the field over the next half century.
Oppenheimer, J., Essays in the history of embryology and biology. 1967.
Wolfit, Sir Donald (1902–1968). British actor manager. He made his debut in 1920 and his first London appearance in 1924. In 1937 he formed his own touring company and, through provincial tours and the lunchtime performances he gave in wartime, presented *Shakespeare’s plays and other classical drama to audiences which would otherwise never have seen them. Clement *Freud commented that *Gielgud was a tour de force, while Wolfit was forced to tour. He played character roles in many films.
Wolfit, D., First Interval. 1954.
Wolfowitz, Paul Dundes (1943– ). American administrator, born in Brooklyn. Educated at Cornell and Chicago Universities, he was Ambassador to Indonesia 1986–89, Undersecretary of Defense 1989–93 and Deputy Secretary 2001–05. A leading ‘neo-conservative’ in Washington, he was an ardent advocate for the war against Iraq (2003) and George W. *Bush nominated him as President of the World Bank 2005–07.
Wolfram von Eschenbach (c.1170–1220). German epic poet and minnesinger. His love poems glorify married love and deep affection, in contrast to the tradition of courtly love where women are simply exploited. He wrote the epic Parzival, incorporating the legend of the Holy Grail and the inspiration for *Wagner’s operas Lohengrin and Parsifal.
Wollaston, William Hyde (1766–1828). English physician and chemist. He developed a method of making platinum malleable for conversion into wire and vessels, and the income from this enabled him to retire from medical practice and take up scientific research. He discovered palladium (1803) and rhodium (1804), drew up a table of equivalents, showed that static and current electricity are similar, devised a lens combination that eliminated aberration, and invented the camera lucida and the reflecting goniometer used to measure the angles of crystals. The mineral Wollastonite, a compound of calcium, silicon and oxygen, was named after him.
Wollstonecraft, Mary (later Godwin) (1759–1797). English writer and feminist, born in London. After an unhappy and violent childhood, she worked as a governess and translator and, inspired by the French Revolution, wrote Vindication of the Rights of Man (1790), a rejoinder to Edmund *Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France which anticipated Thomas *Paine. She lived in France 1792–95. Her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), a pioneering feminist work, identified women as an oppressed class and called for legislation to guarantee equality of the sexes in society, law and education. She married William *Godwin in 1796 and died soon after the birth of her daughter Mary (Mary Wollstonecraft *Shelley).
Tomalin, C., The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft. 1974.
Wolseley, Garnet Joseph Wolseley, 1st Viscount (1833–1913). British field marshal. He held his first independent command in Canada where his administrative skill enabled him to suppress the Red River rebellion (1870) without bloodshed (Louis *Riel). He took a prominent part in carrying out and extending *Cardwell’s army reforms. His victory at Tel el Kebir (1882), by which he completely crushed the rebellion of *Arabi Pasha in Egypt, added still further to his fame, and he was created baron. In 1885 he arrived in Khartoum too late to save *Gordon, and he shares blame with *Gladstone’s Government. Nevertheless, he was promoted to Viscount. He created the modern British army, was Commander-in-Chief 1895–99 and received the OM in 1902.
Lehmann, J. H., The Model Major-General. 1964.
Wolsey, Thomas (1473?–1530). English cardinal and statesman, born in Ipswich. Son of a butcher (or innkeeper), he was educated for the priesthood at Magdalen College, Oxford, became chaplain to Henry Deane, Archbishop of Canterbury (1502), royal chaplain to *Henry VII (1507) and Almoner to *Henry VIII (1509). He had a common-law wife for a decade and fathered three children. Henry VIII liked and admired Wolsey (but later destroyed him), finding him useful for diplomatic missions. He advanced quickly, being appointed Bishop of Lincoln 1514 and an absentee Archbishop of York 1514–30 (never enthroned). He succeeded Archbishop William Warham to become Lord Chancellor 1515–29 and Henry’s chief minister. Pope *Leo X created him cardinal in 1515. An inveterate collector of ecclesiastical offices, Wolsey doubled up as Bishop of Bath and Wells 1518–22, Prince-Bishop of Durham 1523–29 and Bishop of Winchester 1529–30.
Wolsey became preoccupied with three projects: the creation of Cardinal College in Oxford (which survives as Christ Church); Cardinal College in Ipswich, his birthplace (long disappeared); and a huge tomb of regal splendour (unachieved). He employed the capable Thomas *Cromwell as his agent in all three. A great patron of education, he was sympathetic to ecclesiastical reform despite his own obsessive pursuit of wealth and power, refusing to condemn heresy.
Henry’s foreign policy aimed at maintaining a balance between the young *François I of France and the emperor *Charles V, who also became King of Spain. In Wolsey he found a skilful agent who was obsessed with the idea of making his master Europe’s arbiter. At home too he aimed at making Henry supreme, only once summoning parliament and when he did so addressing the members in the most arrogant terms; a strengthened court of the Star Chamber kept the nobles in check. Thus his unpopularity grew and he depended entirely on royal favour. This was at first lavish and enabled Wolsey to build the magnificent palace of Hampton Court (which he later found it expedient to hand over to his royal master), but Henry began to have misgivings about his minister’s growing power and did not support unreservedly his attempts to be elected pope. The crisis in their relations arose through Henry’s domestic affairs. Queen *Catherine had borne Henry six children but only one girl (Mary) had survived. He needed a son and planned to annul his marriage on the grounds that, despite papal dispensation, it was an infraction of Church law to marry his dead brother’s widow. With the agreement of Henry, Wolsey, as papal legate, summoned the king to appear before an ecclesiastical court. But these and subsequent proceedings were drawn out and indecisive, and Henry, blaming Wolsey for the delays, began negotiations with the papacy behind his back. The situation was abruptly changed when the troops of Charles V seized and sacked Rome (1527) and the pope was a virtual prisoner of Charles, Queen Catherine’s nephew. Henry now realised that he could only gain his purpose—doubly urgent now owing to his infatuation with *Anne Boleyn—by a breach with the papacy in which Wolsey would be unwilling to assist. Wolsey therefore retired in disgrace to his see at York (1529). But his enemies at court were not to be appeased. Charges were made against him and eventually one of treason, which he was summoned to London to answer. On the way he fell ill at Leicester Abbey and there died.
Ridley, J. The Statesman and the Fanatic: Thomas Wolsey and Thomas More. 1982; Mantel, H., Wolf Hall. 2009.
Wood, Sir Henry Joseph (1869–1944). English conductor. With Robert Newman, he was co-founder of the famous Promenade Concerts in London which he conducted each year from 1895 to 1941. They were given at the Queen’s Hall until it was destroyed by bombing in 1941, then at the Albert Hall, and are now called the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts. He wrote My Life of Music (1938).
Pound, R., Sir Henry Wood. 1969.
Wood, John (1704–1754). English architect and planner, born in Yorkshire. He is famous for his plans for Bath (from 1727), where he designed Queen’s Square, North and South Parades and the Circus. His work, unfinished at his death, was carried on by his son, John Wood (1728–1781), who also built Royal Crescent and the Assembly Rooms.
Woodhull, Victoria (née Claflin) (1838–1927). American feminist, born in Homer, Licking County, Ohio. She became a specialist in magnetic healing, and was active in the spiritualist movement. With her sister Tennessee Claflin she became a successful stockbroker on Wall Street: they founded Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly which printed *Marx’ Communist Manifesto. Although not entitled to vote, she was nominated for the Presidency of the US in 1872 by the Equal Rights Party. She advocated free love and had a tense relationship with other feminists such as Susan B. *Anthony. She lived in England from 1877, married a banker and edited The Humanitarian 1892–1901.
Woodward, John (1665–1728). English geologist, born in Derbyshire. Apprenticed to a linen draper in London, he studied medicine, becoming professor of physic at Gresham College, London, in 1692. He was a pioneer geologist, who set up the Woodwardian Chair of Geology at Cambridge in 1728, a theorist of the earth, a pioneer of stratigraphy, and an important collector of minerals and fossils. In his theory, An Essay Toward a Natural History of the Earth (1695) he asserted that the strata lay in regular order throughout the globe and that fossils were organic remains. Both phenomena he attributed to the effects of the Biblical Deluge, which he explained by the action and suspension of the Newtonian force of gravity. In his other major works, such as the Attempt towards a Natural History of the Fossils of England (1728–29), he sought to order all the British fossils into a collection and to provide a classification of mineral objects. Woodward had wide interests, and made important contributions to plant physiology and to Roman antiquities.
Porter, R., ‘John Woodward’, Geological Magazine. 116, 1979, pp. 335–43.
Woodward, Robert Burns (1917–1979). American chemist. Educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he was a chemistry professor at Harvard 1950–79 and became known as the father of synthetic organic chemistry. He succeeded in synthesising penicillin, terramycin, chlorophyll, strychnine, quinine, reserpine, vitamin B12 and many other substances. He received the 1965 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, was a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Davy Medallist.
Woolf, (Adeline) Virginia (née Stephen) (1882–1941). English author, born in London. Daughter of Sir Leslie *Stephen and sister of Vanessa (wife of Clive *Bell), she married (1912) Leonard (Sidney) Woolf (1880–1969), printer, publisher and political writer. They established (1915) the Hogarth Press in Richmond. It was moved to Bloomsbury in the early 1920s and Virginia Woolf became a leading figure in the literary coterie known as the Bloomsbury set. Meanwhile she had begun her career as a novelist with the publication of The Voyage Out (1915). Her novels are difficult but rewarding. She seldom uses direct narrative but is most concerned with the inner consciousness of her characters expressed by internal monologue, while the emotional intensity and symbolism of her language are more typical of poetry than prose. But she is not over-serious and sometimes, e.g. in the fantasy Orlando (1928, filmed in 1992), shows an impish sense of humour. Among the most characteristic of her novels are Jacob’s Room (1922), Mrs Dalloway (1925), To The Lighthouse (1927) and The Waves (1931). She was also a distinguished essayist and showed her interest in social changes affecting women in, e.g., A Room of One’s Own (1929). Another aspect of her talent was shown by her biography of the artist and critic Roger *Fry. Deeply depressive, she drowned herself.
Gordon, L., Virginia Woolf. 1986; Lee, H., Virginia Woolf. 1996.
Woollcott, Alexander (1887–1943). American journalist. He became a famous dramatic critic in New York, respected and feared for his capacity to make or break plays. Later he won renown as a broadcaster and essayist. Sheridan Whiteside, the central character in the play (and film) The Man who Came to Dinner by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart was based on him.
Woolley, Sir (Charles) Leonard (1880–1960). English archaeologist. Famed for his excavations of the site of the biblical ‘Ur of the Chaldees’ in Mesopotamia, after being assistant curator at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, he gained practical experience of excavation in Egypt, Syria, Nubia and at Carchemish in Turkey (assisted by T. E. *Lawrence). After being a prisoner of war in Turkey in World War I he spent 12 years from 1922 excavating at Ur (by then in Iraq). At the royal cemetery, evidence of human sacrifice at the burials of the nobles was found and rich accumulations of artistic treasures were uncovered. These are described in The Royal Cemetery (1934). His other works include Digging up the Past (1930).
Woolley, C. L., Spadework. 1953.
Woolman, John (1720–1772). American Quaker preacher, born in New Jersey. A farmer’s son, he preached and wrote against slavery and published several religious works, as well as his Journal (1774, often reprinted).
Woolton, Frederick James Marquis, 1st Earl of (1883–1964). British administrator, businessman and Conservative politician. He ran Lewis’s department store, received a peerage in 1939 and was appointed from outside politics to be Minister for Food 1940–43. He devised an efficient rationing scheme in World War II and was Minister of Reconstruction 1943–45. He joined the Conservatives on their defeat in 1945, was appointed party chairman 1945–55 and with R. A. *Butler was largely responsible for their return to office in 1951. He served as a minister again 1951–54.
Woolton, F., Memoirs. 1959.
Woolworth, Frank Winfield (1852–1919). American retailer. He was a farm worker until becoming a shop assistant in 1873. His first 5–cent store, opened (1879) in Utica, N.Y., failed, but a 5– and 10–cent store started in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the same year became the nucleus of the vast international chain of shops that bears his name. The giant New York skyscraper, the Woolworth Building, for a time the world’s tallest building, was constructed (1913) to house his central offices.
Wootton, Barbara Frances, Baroness Wootton of Abinger (née Adam) (1897–1988). English social scientist and economist. Educated at Cambridge, she lectured in economics at Girton College 1920–22, did research work for the Labour Party 1922–26 and was principal of Morley College 1926–27. Director of studies at London University 1927–44 and professor of social studies 1948–52, she was made a life peeress in 1958 and wrote many books.
Wootton, B. F., Testament for Social Science. 1950.
Worde, Wynkyn de (fl. 1480–1535?). English printer, born in Alsace. He was a pupil of *Caxton, who in 1491 succeeded to his business. He made great improvements in printing and typecutting, and printed many books including The Golden Legend (1493), Morte D’Arthur (1498) and the third edition of the Canterbury Tales.
Wordsworth, Dorothy Mae Anne (1771–1855). English writer. Only sister and close companion of William *Wordsworth, her Journals show that she shared his poetic sensibility and his response to nature; her delight in natural beauty and sharp observation was a continuous inspiration to him. She had a nervous breakdown in 1829 and never fully recovered. Before her death she had become senile.
Levin, S. Dorothy Wordsworth and Romanticism. 2009.
Wordsworth, William (1770–1850). English poet, born at Cockermouth, Cumberland. The second of five children, he was closest to his sister *Dorothy; a younger brother, Christopher Wordsworth (1774–1846), became Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Their father, a lawyer, was psychologically remote but encouraged his children to read poetry.
He studied at St John’s College, Cambridge from 1787, graduating BA in 1791. Wordsworth was a great walker and his close observation of nature was on foot (or feet). Thomas *De Quincy estimated that he ‘must have traversed a distance of 175 to 180,000 English miles—a mode of exertion which, to him, stood in the stead of wine, spirits, and all other stimulants whatsoever to the animal spirits’ but observed that his legs, while serviceable ‘were certainly not ornamental’. He walked through Switzerland in 1790, France 1791–92, 1802 and Germany 1798–99 and also visited Scotland, Ireland and Italy.
He was in France as it approached the height of the Revolution, and in Blois fell in love with Annette Vallon, who bore him a daughter. At first a sympathiser of the Revolution cause, after his return to England, Jacobin excesses and England’s declaration of war with France horrified and confused him. From this condition Dorothy, by re-invigorating his love of nature, and his friend Samuel Taylor *Coleridge, by his philosophy, restored him to his vocation as a poet. His poetic inspiration, with its striking originality, was confined to a single decade 1797–1807, followed by a long, sad decline.
A legacy enabled brother and sister to move first to Dorset, then to Somerset, and in 1799 to Grasmere in the Lake District, where they lived at ‘Dove Cottage’ until 1808. Jointly with Coleridge he had already published Lyrical Ballads (1798), which marked a revolt from the highly wrought ‘Augustan’ style of *Pope and his successors and the return to nature for inspiration. He asserted that poetry should use the language of common speech, should express ‘the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’ and take its origin ‘from emotion recollected in tranquillity.’ He was a central figure in the Romantic revival which long dominated English poetry (*Byron was a scathing critic).
Coleridge and Robert *Southey lived nearby and, with Wordsworth, were known as ‘the Lake Poets.’ He married (1802) Mary Hutchinson, a friend from childhood, and she moved into ‘Dove Cottage’ with William and Dorothy. After several moves in the Lake District, Wordsworth and family settled in 1813 at Rydal Mount, near Ambleside. He reacted strongly against the impact of industrialisation on the landscape. Wordsworth referred to ‘spots of time’ in which a brief image or observation of an element in nature has a lasting psychological impact on the observer.
Gerard Manley *Hopkins wrote that in his ‘Intimations of Immortality’ (1804) Wordsworth had ‘seen something’ and that this insight or vision had ‘given human nature a shock’ and ‘sent it trembling’. Wordsworth rarely refers to God in his poetry but he saw Nature as ‘sacramental’, analogous to the divine, with its own transcendence.
Wordsworth became Poet Laureate in 1843, succeeding Southey. In his last years he was increasingly Tory, Anglican and depressive, especially after the death (1847) of his daughter Dora.
The Prelude or, Growth of a Poet's Mind; An Autobiographical Poem (published posthumously in 1850 and named by his widow), largely completed by 1798, still being revised until his death, is a huge work, 14 books in blank verse, autobiographical and relating the poet’s aesthetic development. However, it has extraordinary flashes, including in Book X, an hallucinatory memory of the September Massacres (1792) in the French Revolution, with echoes of *Dante, *Shakespeare and William *Blake. Its meaning is unclear but its emotional power and urgency is undeniable.
With unextinguish’d taper I kept watch,
Reading at intervals; the fear gone by
Press’d on me almost like a fear to come;
I thought of those September Massacres,
Divided from me by a little month,
And felt and touch’d them, a substantial dread;
The rest was conjured up from tragic fictions,
And mournful Calendars of true history,
Remembrances and dim admonishments.
‘The horse is taught his manage, and the wind
Of heaven wheels round and treads in his own steps,
Year follows year, the tide returns again,
Day follows day, all things have second birth;
The earthquake is not satisfied at once.’
And in such way I wrought upon myself,
Until I seem’d to hear a voice that cried
To the whole City, ‘Sleep no more.’
Wordsworth, W. (eds de Selincourt, E. and Darbishire, H.), Poetical Works. 5 vols, 1940–49; Gill, S., William Wordsworth. 1989; Gill, S., William Wordsworth: A Life. 1989; Davies, H., William Wordsworth: A Biography. 2009.
Wotton, Sir Henry (1568–1639). English diplomat and writer. After leaving Oxford, where he befriended *Donne (and later, *Milton), he became secretary to the Earl of *Essex, accompanying him on several expeditions. The Grand Duke of Tuscany sent him to warn *James VI of Scotland of a Catholic plot against his life, entailing a journey in disguise through Germany and Denmark. When James became King of England, he made Wotton Ambassador to Venice, serving intermittently 1604–23. Elected as MP in 1614 and 1625, he was provost of Eton 1624–39 and took holy orders in 1627. He coined the aphorism: ‘An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the commonwealth’. His The Elements of Architecture (1624), suggested adaptations of the Palladian style for English country houses and he also wrote many charming lyrics (Izaak *Walton).
Wouk, Herman (1915– ). American novelist. A radio scriptwriter, he served in the US Navy. His bestselling novels include The Caine Mutiny (1951), Marjorie Morningstar (1955) and Youngblood Hawke (1962). The Caine Mutiny was also a play and film (starring Humphrey *Bogart as Captain Queeg, 1954).
Wouverman, Philips (1619–1668). Dutch painter, born in Haarlem. He studied with his father and probably Franz *Hals. His brothers Pieter and Jan were also prolific artists in the baroque style. He is best known for his numerous hunting and battle scenes, the latter often distinguished by a conspicuous white horse in the foreground.
Wozniak, Steve (Stephen Gary, often known as ‘Woz’) (1950– ). American inventor and electronics engineer, born in San Jose. He worked closely, but not happily, with Steve *Jobs, in the development of Apple, Macintosh and a range of electronic products.
Wran, Neville Kenneth (1926–2014). Australian Labor politician. A Sydney barrister and QC, he was Premier of New South Wales 1976–86, National President of the Australian Labor Party 1980–86, Chairman of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) 1986–91 and a merchant banker.
Wrangel, Pyotr Nikolaeivich, Baron (1878–1928). Russian soldier. Having served with distinction in the Russo-Japanese War and become a young major general in World War I, he succeeded *Denikin in command of the anti-Bolshevik forces in south Russia. He held out in the Crimea until November 1920, when he evacuated troops and refugees to the Balkans.
Wren, Sir Christopher (1632–1723). English architect and scientist, born in East Knoyle, Wiltshire. Son of the dean of Windsor, he was educated at Winchester and Wadham College, Oxford and won a reputation as a prodigy, anticipating *Newton’s work on gravity. Professor of astronomy at Gresham’s College, London 1657–61, he was a foundation Fellow of the Royal Society (1660) and Savilian professor of astronomy at Oxford 1661–73. He developed an active interest in architecture at Oxford and his first great building was the Sheldonian Theatre (exhibited as a model in 1663, carried out in 1669). A visit to Paris (1665), where he met *Bernini, was important in developing his style. Surveyor-General of London 1666–69 and of the Royal Works 1669–1718, he was working on the restoration of the old Gothic St Paul’s Cathedral, when the Great Fire (1666) destroyed it and about two-thirds of the city. Although his ambitious plans for rebuilding London were not accepted, he was commissioned to design a new St Paul’s and 51 city churches, of which 20 survive. Early plans for St Paul’s were rejected as (i) too grandiose and (ii) too modest; building began in 1675 and was extensively modified as work proceeded. The great dome was begun in 1698 and St Paul’s was completed in 1711. Wren’s later work, especially the western towers of St Paul’s, shows familiarity (probably through engravings) with Roman baroque. His secular work is almost equally famous; the new buildings of Hampton Court for all their magnificence conform to the domestic charm of the old. To the same decade (the 1690s) belong the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, Kensington Palace and the start of work on Greenwich Hospital. Earlier the perfect proportions of Trinity College Library in Cambridge had given promise of what he could achieve. Knighted in 1673, he was President of the Royal Society 1680–82 and elected as a Whig MP in 1685, 1689 and 1701, rarely (if ever) attending. He married twice, and a son by each marriage survived him. Buried in St Paul’s, his modest grave is marked by the inscription: ‘Si monumentum requiris, circumspice’ (‘If you seek a monument, look around’).
Tinniswood, A., His Invention So Fertile: A Life of Christopher Wren. 2001.
Wright, Sir Almroth Edward (1861–1947). English pathologist. Professor of experimental pathology at London University 1902–46, he developed the first successful anti-typhoid serum and investigated parasitic diseases. He was the teacher of Sir Alexander *Fleming.
Wright, Frank Lloyd (1867–1959). American architect, born in Wisconsin. He studied civil engineering for a year at the University of Wisconsin, was influenced by the writings of *Viollet-le-Duc, then worked in Chicago (1889–93) in the office of Louis *Sullivan. Between 1900 and 1910 he designed 50 houses in the ‘Prairie style’, emphasising low, horizontal proportions: the prototype of the open-planned house. The Robie house in Chicago (1909) is a famous example. His highly original style integrated engineering techniques into architectural expression, by use of appropriate materials and stressing the importance of a harmonious relationship between building and landscape. Wright had a turbulent and well-publicised domestic life. He built a famous house and work centre, Taliesin, at Spring Green, Wisconsin in 1911. (In August 1914 his mistress, two of her children and four others were murdered there by a deranged servant and part of the house was burnt down.) He built another home and school, Taliesin West, at Scottsdale, Arizona. His Imperial Hotel, Tokyo (1916–22), one of the few major buildings to survive the 1923 earthquake, was demolished in 1968. By 1930 his work, using natural materials and related to landscape, appeared to be eclipsed by the mechanistic ‘International style’ of *Le Corbusier, *Gropius and *Mies van der Rohe, which he detested. He concentrated on teaching, then produced his greatest works. Among his masterpieces were the ‘Fallingwater’ house, near Pittsburgh (1936–37), the Johnson Wax Building, Racine, Wisconsin (1936–39) and the *Guggenheim Museum, New York (1956–59). He designed about 800 buildings of which 484 were constructed and 433 survive. Wright was also a furniture and window designer and a prolific writer, particularly influential in Europe. He wrote a revealing (but wildly inaccurate) Autobiography (1932). His hero was *Wagner and his life had operatic overtones.
Gill, B., Many Masks. 1987; Secrest, M., Frank Lloyd Wright. 1993.
Wright, Judith Arundell (1915–2000). Australian poet. Born into a pastoralist family, she was educated at Sydney University, travelled in Europe, worked on the land and at the University of Queensland, and married the philosopher and novelist J. P. McKinney. She published 12 volumes of poetry, the first, The Moving Image (1946), establishing her in the front rank of Australian poets. She wrote her family history in Generations of Men (1959), edited anthologies, published criticism and was an ardent campaigner for conservation of the environment and Aboriginal land rights. She had an intimate relationship with the economist H. C. *Coombs from 1972, which was only revealed after their deaths. Their letters to each other are moving.
Brady, V., South of My Days. 1998.
Wright, Thomas (1711–1786). English astronomer, born in County Durham. He became one of the most original cosmological and astronomical thinkers in 18th-century England. Largely self-taught, he set himself up as a teacher of navigation and pursued astronomical research. In 1750 he published his most important work, the Original Theory, or New Hypothesis of the Universe. This was primarily an attempt to fuse his own heterodox religious views with physical truth. He believed that the universe had a divine and gravitational centre, which was the abode of light. He saw the Milky Way as a thin shell of stars, and proposed the existence of a multiplicity of star systems, each with its own supernatural centre. He later published his Second Thoughts in which he suggested that the universe rather consisted of an infinite sequence of concentric shells surrounding the divine centre. The sky is one of those opaque shells. Stars he saw as pinpricks, letting light pass through from within.
Hoskin, M. A., ‘The cosmology of Thomas Wright of Durham’, Journal for the history of astronomy, i (1970), pp. 44–52.
Wright, Wilbur (1867–1912) and Orville (1871–1948). American aviation pioneers and inventors, born in Millville, Indiana and Dayton, Ohio, respectively. The Wright brothers were the sons of a clergyman, lived austerely and never married. They made and repaired bicycles in Dayton and became interested in gliding, after reading Otto *Lilienthal’s experiments. When they began to think of aircraft construction, they found themselves frustrated by a lack of scientific data. To overcome this they built (1901) a small wind tunnel to determine the effect of air pressure on wing surfaces. They invented ‘ailerons’ or wing flaps as controls and finally they designed and built their first aircraft, a machine weighing 340 kg (750 lb.) and powered by a 12 h.p. petrol motor. On 17 December 1903 they made what are generally regarded as the first successful powered, sustained and controlled flights at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The first flight, made by Orville in Flyer I, lasted for only 12 seconds but on the fourth the machine travelled 260 metres (852 feet) in 59 seconds, a speed of 48 kph (30 mph). By 1905 Wilbur had remained aloft for 38 minutes in Flyer III. Incredibly, their achievements were never reported nor believed in the US and it was a successful demonstration at Le Mans, France (8 August 1908), which proved the sceptics wrong, making the brothers famous. In September 1908 Orville flew for 62 minutes; 8 days later he crashed, killing a passenger. The Wright Aeroplane Company was founded in 1909. Wilbur, who was the driving force, died of typhoid (R. W. *Pearse).
McFarland, M. W. (ed.), The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright. 2 vols, 1953; McCullough, D., The Wright Brothers. 2015.
Wriothesley, Henry see Southampton, 3rd Earl of
Wunderlich, Carl Reinhold August (1815–1877). German physician. He practised in Leipzig where he became professor. Among the earliest to recognise that fever was not a disease per se, but a symptom, he introduced the regular taking of temperatures and their recording on a chart. (The clinical thermometer he used was a clumsy instrument more than 30 cm long, which took nearly 20 minutes to register.)
Wundt, Wilhelm Max (1832–1920). German experimental psychologist. Son of a Lutheran pastor, he pursued a career in medicine, attending university at Tübingen, Heidelberg and Berlin, where he worked under *Du Bois-Reymond. He taught at Heidelberg until 1871, moving first to Zürich and then to Leipzig. After a generation in the shadows, his career blossomed. His laboratory became one of the great centres of psychological research. Wundt’s approach to psychology was always physiological. He was concerned with response and reaction, with the speed of nerve impulses, and with the understanding of electrical impulses in the brain. His approach was frequently described as ‘psychology without a soul’, though he denied that his outlook was reductionist and materialist. Emil *Kraepelin was his pupil.
Boring, E. G., A History of Experimental Psychology. 1950.
Wu Zetian (also Wu Zhao or Wu Hou) (624–705). Empress regnant of China 690–705, sole ruler of the Zhou dynasty, an interruption of the Tang dynasty. Born to a rich family, she became the concubine of the Taizong Emperor, married his son, the Gaozong Emperor, displaced her son the Ruizong Emperor, and was recognised as Empress regnant. She promoted Buddhism, erected many monuments, ordered exploration of central Asia and was ruthless with her (many) enemies. She was the only Chinese Empress regnant.
Fitzgerald, C. P., The Empress Wu. 1968; Clements, J., Wu. 2014.
Wyatt, James (1746–1813). English architect. Son of a builder, after studying in Italy he returned to England and worked in the style made fashionable by the *Adam brothers. From about 1780 he became a leader of the Gothic revival. He undertook restorations and extensions to eight Oxford colleges. The eccentric William *Beckford gave him a wonderful opportunity when he commissioned (1796) Fonthill Abbey, and its 90 metre tower collapsed in the year of his death. (Rebuilt, it collapsed again in 1820). His restorations of Salisbury, Lichfield, Hereford and Durham are regarded as unfortunate. Nine members of the Wyatt family were architects. In 1796 *George III chose James Wyatt to restore Windsor Castle. However, the present appearance of the Castle is due to his nephew Sir James Wyatville (né James Wyatt) (1766–1840), who changed his name in 1824 to avoid confusion. Enormously prolific, a prefabricated hospital in Sydney (1790) was attributed to him.
Robinson, J. W., The Wyatts: An Architectural Dynasty. 1980.
Wyatt, Sir Thomas (1503–1542). English poet and diplomat. He was sent on diplomatic missions to France and the papal court, after which he privately visited many Italian cities, where he admired and absorbed their literary culture. His further career was interrupted by *Henry VIII’s suspicions about his relationship with *Anne Boleyn and he spent two brief periods in the Tower of London. He translated much of *Petrarch and is credited with introducing the Petrarchan sonnet into English literature. His own lyrics were published after his death, in Tottel’s Miscellany (1557). In the 20th century he has been recognised as a good, and even great, poet after centuries of critical neglect.
His son Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger (1521?–1554), a soldier, raised a rebellion to prevent Queen *Mary’s marriage to *Philip II of Spain and was executed when his plan failed.
Lewis, C. S. English Literature in the Sixteenth Century. 1954; Brigden, S., Thomas Wyatt. 2013.
Wycherley, William (1640–1716). English playwright. After some years in France and attending Oxford University, he went to London, where he lived a somewhat dissipated life while nominally studying the law. His first play, Love in a Wood (1671), was dedicated to the King’s mistress, the Duchess of *Cleveland, whose patronage he won with that of the Duke of *Buckingham and of the King himself. The Gentleman Dancing Master (1672) was less successful, but his third play, The Country Wife (1675), was one of the most entertaining Restoration comedies. It was adapted by *Garrick and has been revived in modern times. The Plain Dealer, written earlier but produced in 1676, was the last of his plays. He married the Countess of Drogheda (1679) but was reduced to poverty by lawsuits that followed her death (1681). *James II came to his rescue with a pension. In later life Wycherley became a friend of *Pope. His plays have been condemned for their bawdiness (a reflection of the taste of the period) but his wit and satire are indisputably brilliant.
Zimbardo, R., Wycherley’s Drama. 1965.
Wyclif (Wycliffe, Wicliffe), John (c.1320–1384). English ecclesiastical reformer, born in Yorkshire. He is first mentioned in 1360, when, already renowned for scholarship, he was master of Balliol College, Oxford. He soon left to work in nearby parishes, which allowed him to maintain his links with Oxford. By this time he was known at court and had come under the powerful patronage of *John of Gaunt. In 1374, the same year that he was presented with the living of Lutterworth, he was sent on an embassy to confer with the papal envoys at Bruges. The removal of the papacy to Avignon and its close connexions with the French crown had increased English resentment at papal exactions. Thus Wyclif, taking his stand on the authority of the New Testament, was voicing the popular view in denouncing the Church’s right to interfere in secular affairs and in maintaining the state’s right to withdraw ecclesiastical endowments. Supported by John of Gaunt, who wanted the Church’s wealth for the French wars, Wyclif, whose aim was a return to apostolic simplicity, was able to evade episcopal and papal attempts to secure his condemnation. The scandal of two popes (1378) *Urban VI (supported by England) at Rome and *Clement VII at Avignon, persuaded Wyclif to go further. He not only attacked the Church’s corruption and the pope’s temporal power, he also rejected the system of priestly absolution, penances and indulgences. To convince his followers that these lacked scriptural authority he organised, with the help of the Oxford scholars, a complete translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate to which he contributed a rendering of the Gospels and probably most of the New Testament. It was condemned and suppressed. Nevertheless, nearly 200 manuscript copies survive, suggesting that it was widely used in his time. So far his support had been widespread even in the Church itself, but when he attacked the dogma of transubstantiation and assailed the whole hierarchy the attitude changed. Condemned by a synod (1382) he had to retire to Lutterworth, where he died. His followers, contemptuously called ‘Lollards’ after a Dutch word meaning ‘mumblers’, were generally stamped out. Wyclif’s teaching strongly influenced Jan *Hus, the great Bohemian reformer, and the doctrines of both were condemned by the Council of Constance (1414–18).
MacFarlane, K. B., John Wyclif and the Beginnings of English Nonconformity. 1952.
Wyeth, Andrew Newell (1917–2009). American painter. His spare, sometimes unnerving, landscapes were extremely popular and widely reproduced. In 1963 President *Kennedy awarded him the Medal of Freedom for work ‘which in the great humanist tradition illuminated and clarified the verities of life’.
Wykeham, William of (1324–1404). English prelate and patron of learning. He entered royal service (c.1347) and eventually as Lord Privy Seal and Lord Chancellor 1363–71 became the virtual head of the administration. Meanwhile his ecclesiastical progress continued and in 1367 he was appointed Bishop of Winchester. During *Edward III’s closing years he fell into disfavour for supporting the parliamentary opposition but, with the accession of *Richard II, he was back in office and was again Lord Chancellor 1389–91. During his long career he had amassed a great fortune with which he founded Winchester College and New College, Oxford. He also bore the expense of rebuilding the nave of Winchester Cathedral in the new Perpendicular style.
Wynkyn de Worde see Worde
Wyss, Johann Rudolf (1781–1830). Swiss writer. He wrote the Swiss national anthem and finished and published The Swiss Family Robinson (English translation 1814), which, originally written by his father for his children, quickly became a worldwide classic.
Wyszynski, Stefan (1901–1981). Polish cardinal. Bishop of Lublin 1946–48, he became Archbishop of Warsaw and primate of Poland 1948–81 and was created cardinal in 1953. Throughout the period of Communist rule he maintained the Church’s position with the greatest courage. Imprisoned 1953–56, by cooperating with the government where this did not offend the Church’s dignity and conscience, he saved it from still greater interference.