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Royal Mail stamps to honour 10 “remarkable” people born in 1914

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Andrew Hammond, Royal Mail’s director of stamps and collectibles, explains that “the ‘Remarkable Lives’ stamp issue creates a great sense of history, and captures both the achievement and endeavour of those exceptional people.”

1. Sir Alec Guiness

1914-2000

Sir Alec Guinness was an English actor, perhaps best known for playing Yevgraf in Doctor Zhivago, Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations, Fagin in Oliver Twist, Col. Nicholson in the Bridge on the River Kwai and Obi-Wan Kenobi in the origional Star Wars triliogy. He was one of three major British actors who, after the Second World War, successfully transitioned from Shakespearean theatre to Hollywood blockbuster. As well as an Academy Award, he won a BAFTA Award, Golden Globe and Tony Award. Furthermore, he was knighted in 1959 by Elizabeth II for services to the arts, and received the Academy Honorary Award for lifetime achievement in 1989.

2. Dylan Thomas

1914 – 1953

Dylan Marlais Thomas was a Welsh poet and writer whose works include the poems “Do not go gentle into that good night” and “And death shall have no dominion”, as well as BBC radio broadcasts. Although his work appeared in print as a teenager, it was the 1934 “Light breaks where no sun shines” publication that made him famous. After gaining attention through radio recordings for the BBC in 1940, he was used as a populist voice of the literary scene. Although he wrote in English, Thomas was acknowledged as one of the most important Welsh poets of the 20th century. 

3. Joe Mercer

1914 – 1990

Joe Mercer, the son of a former Nottingham Forest and Tranmere Rovers footballer, was an Everton (who he joined at the age of 18) and Arsenal footballer. During the Second World War, Mercer became a sergeant-major and played in 26 wartime internationals, many of them as captain. He won an FA Cup winner’s medal in 1950 and was voted FWA Footballer of the Year the same year. After his playing career ended, he became a captain for the Gunners, where he was given the nickname ‘the Footballing Grocer’ because he ran a grocery business in north-west England and commuted south for matchesHe later became the England caretaker manager who took over from World Cup winner Sir Alf Ramsey.

4. Abram Games

1914 – 1996

Abram Games was a British graphic designer. It was only in 1934, where an entry of his was second in the Health Council Competition, that Games started gaining attention. In 1935, he won a poster competition for the London City Council, and the following year began working as a freelance poster artist. Games produced advertising images for oil companies and building societies, as well as propaganda posters for the government during World War Two. His clients included: Shell, Financial Times, Guinness, British Airways, London Transport, El Al and the United Nations.

5. Joan Littlewood

1914 – 2002

Joan Maud Littlewood, otherwise known as “the mother of modern theatre”, was an English theatre director. After the end of World War Two, Littlewood, alongside other Theatre Union members, formed Theatre Workshop. One of Littlewood’s most famous productions was of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Mother Courage and Her Children’, which she directed and played the lead role in. Her production of ‘Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be’, a musical about the London underworld, became a hit and ran from 1959 to 1962. Her most popular works remain ‘Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey’ and musical ‘Oh, What a Lovely War!’.

Image source: Royal Mail/PA

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