November 28 Birthdays

William Blake was a 19th century writer and artist who is regarded as a seminal figure of the Romantic Age. His writings have influenced countless writers and artists through the ages, and he has been deemed both a major poet and an original thinker.


Born in 1757 in London, England, William Blake began writing at an early age and claimed to have had his first vision, of a tree full of angels, at age 10. He studied engraving and grew to love Gothic art, which he incorporated into his own unique works. A misunderstood poet, artist and visionary throughout much of his life, Blake found admirers late in life and has been vastly influential since his death in 1827.

Early Years

William Blake was born on November 28, 1757, in the Soho district of London, England. He only briefly attended school, being chiefly educated at home by his mother. The Bible had an early, profound influence on Blake, and it would remain a lifetime source of inspiration, coloring his life and works with intense spirituality.At an early age, Blake began experiencing visions, and his friend and journalist Henry Crabb Robinson wrote that Blake saw God's head appear in a window when Blake was 4 years old. He also allegedly saw the prophet Ezekiel under a tree and had a vision of "a tree filled with angels." Blake's visions would have a lasting effect on the art and writings that he produced.

Randy Newman is an American singer, musician and songwriter known for such songs as "Short People," "I Love L.A." and "Mama Told Me Not to Come."


Born Los Angeles, California, in 1943, Randy Newman released his first single in 1962. His self-titled debut album came six years later. Newman scored his first and only major pop hit with 1977's "Short People." In the early 1980s, his song "I Love L.A." was a minor success. Newman began working on film soundtracks in the '70s. Since then, he's won awards for his musical contributions to such movies as The Natural (1984); A Bug's Life (1999); Monsters, Inc. (2001); and Toy Story 3 (2010).

Early Life and Career

Famed singer, musician and composer Randy Newman was born on November 28, 1943, in Los Angeles, California. Known for his well-crafted lyrics and appealing melodies, Randy Newman is known for such songs as "Short People," "I Love L.A." and "Mama Told Me Not to Come." While his father was a doctor, he did have several musical relatives. His uncles, Alfred, Emil and Lionel Newman, were famous for their musical scores for movies.

Newman began studying the piano at age seven. His playing style was strongly influenced by the musicians he heard while visiting family in New Orleans growing up. By the time he was 17, Newman was writing songs professionally. He put out his first single, "Golden Girdiron Boy," in 1962.

Barbara Morgan was the first teacher-astronaut to complete a shuttle mission on board the Endeavor in 2007.


Born in 1951, grammar school teacher Barbara Morgan was the backup candidate for the NASA Teacher in Space program in 1985. The chosen teacher, Christa McAuliffe, died in the 1986 Challenger explosion. Morgan continued with the astronaut corps, finally serving on the Endeavor for an 11-day mission in 2007, making her the first teacher-astronaut to complete a space mission.

Early Life

Barbara Radding Morgan became the first teacher-astronaut into space when the shuttle Endeavour launched August 8, 2007, on an 11-day mission to the International Space Station. Barbara Morgan was born November 28, 1951, in Fresno, California, to Dr. and Mrs. Jerry Radding. After attending Hoover High School in Fresno, Morgan earned a B.A., with distinction, in human biology from Stanford University. She also obtained a teaching credential from the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, California.

Career Highlights

Morgan was originally trained as the backup to "teacher in space" Christa McAuliffe, who died in the 1986 Challenger explosion. Morgan waited in the wings for more than 21 years for an opportunity to fulfill McAuliffe's mission. She made no public comment as she took her historic, long-delayed ride into space on mission STS-118. Aboard Endeavour, she was load master, responsible for the 5,000 pounds of supplies that was transferred to the station. She also operated the shuttle and station robotic arms during three planned spacewalks. On the seventh day of the mission, she was scheduled to participate in an educational interactive video broadcast with students gathered at the Discovery Center of Idaho in Boise. Morgan planned to teach some of the same lessons that McAuliffe was supposed to teach more than 20 years previous, as part of a wider curriculum.

Morgan began her teaching career in 1974 on the Flathead Indian Reservation, where she taught remedial reading and math at Arlee Elementary School in Arlee, Montana. From 1975-'78, she taught remedial reading/math and second grade at McCall-Donnelly Elementary School in McCall, Idaho. From 1978-'79, Morgan taught English and science to third graders at Colegio Americano de Quito in Quito, Ecuador. And from l979-'98, she taught second, third and fourth grade courses at McCall-Donnelly Elementary School.

Morgan was selected as the backup candidate for the NASA Teacher in Space Project in July 1985. She trained with Christa McAuliffe and the Space Shuttle Challenger crew at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Following McAuliffe's death, Morgan returned to teaching before being selected in 1998 as a member of the astronaut corps.

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