On this day: the birth of Robert Cornelius

American photography pioneer Robert Cornelius was born in Philadelphia on the 1st of March, 1809.

Cornelius, born to a Dutch immigrant father and a lamp manufacturer by profession, is credited as having taken the first photographic self-portrait, in 1839. He was required to sit still for more than ten minutes to capture the image.

Today he is sometimes called the inventor of the “selfie”.

Here is his portrait:

Robert Cornelius was an American pioneer of photography and a lamp manufacturer. World's first selfie 1839.

On this day: the Battle of Corunna

death-of-sir-john-moore-at-the-battle-of-corunna-derived-from-an-engraving-by-thomas-sutherland-and-aquatint-by-william-heath-16th-january-1809

The death of Sir John Moore X

Part of the Peninsula War (1807-14), the Battle of Corunna took place in Spain on the 16th of January, 1809.

Fought in Galicia, the battle was between the United Kingdom and France, and concluded with a British victory. However, the battle also paved the way for French occupation of other areas.

The British lost 900 men; the French lost between 600 and 700.

sir_john_moore_by_sir_thomas_lawrencelieutenant-general-sir-john-moore-kb-13-november-1761-16-january-1809-was-a-british-soldier-and-general-also-known-as-moore-of-corunna

Amongst the British dead was Sir John Moore, who was reassured of his victory before he died.

On this day: the world’s first passenger railway

Tram on the Swansea and Mumbles Railway in Wales 1897.

Photographed in 1897

On the 25th of March, 1807, the world’s first passenger railway opened in Britain.

Horsetrain_1870Horse-powered train on the Swansea and Mumbles Railway, Wales.

1870

The Swansea and Mumbles Railway operated in Wales until 1960. The passenger cars were originally pulled by horses before being changed to steam locomotives, and then finally to electric trams.

On this day: the burning of Drury Lane Theatre

The third theatre on London’s Drury Lane burnt to the ground on the 24th of February, 1809, after only standing for fifteen years.

The painting, circa 1809, depicts the sky on fire from Westminster Bridge as the building collapsed.

The Burning of Drury Lane Theatre from Westminster Bridge circa 1809

The theatre’s owner, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, was famously seen drinking a glass of wine as the building burnt. He is said to have responded to baffled onlookers: “A man may surely be allowed to take a glass of wine by his own fireside.”

401px-Richard_Brinsley_Sheridan_1751_-_1816The Dramatic Works of Richard Brinsley Sheridan

The present day Theatre Royal, Drury Lane opened in 1812 and is today one of London’s most important theatres.