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29 October 2014
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Kier Hardie

On this day in 1915 James Kier Hardie, the Scottish Labour statesman, died.

At the age of eight, Hardie worked as a delivery boy for a baker and was the sole wage earner in his family. In January 1866, he was sacked for unpunctuality after spending the night looking after his dying brother and arriving late for work. The family then moved to Lanarkshire where he got a job as a miner. Hardie never attended school, but by the age of seventeen had learned to write, and began to read newspaper accounts describing the steps that some workers were taking to improve their conditions by forming trade unions. His political career began with the formation of a union at his colliery and he led the first ever Lanarkshire miners' strike. Hardie was initially a supporter of the Liberal Party but soon formed the opinion that the working class needed their own party to represent them. His first attempt to enter the House of Commons in 1888 ended in failure, but he was elected as the first socialist MP in 1892 when he was returned as the Independent Labour candidate for West Ham South. He lost his seat in 1895, but was returned in 1900 as the MP for Merthyr Tydfil.

Jessie Kesson

On this day in 1994 Jessie Kesson, the author of Another Time Another Place, died. She was born an illegitimate child in the workhouse in Inverness in 1916. When her mother fell ill, Jessie was removed from her care, and she grew up in an orphanage in Aberdeenshire. Although encouraged by her schoolmaster to attend university, this was against orphanage policy and she was sent into farm service. She suffered a nervous breakdown through frustration of her talents and spent a year in a mental hospital.

Throughout the 1940s and 50s she wrote over 30 plays and programmes for BBC Radio Aberdeen and gradually became an acclaimed writer. She moved first to Glasgow and then to London and continued to produce more plays and novels, including Another Time, Another Place, based on the experiences of Italian prisoners of war on Orkney.

Today's recipe: Scots chef Nick Nairn's suggestion for in-season venison.

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