Hi! For the last two and a half years I’ve been writing for a Dublin-based cultural website called Headstuff. Mostly I write a weekly column called Terrible People from History, though I’ve written other stuff for them and even guested on one of their podcasts, talking about the historical impact of syphilis
Here’s some of my favourite Terrible People I’ve written about:
Fred Demara was the original Great Pretender. He spent his whole life faking qualifications and doing a surprisingly good job at things he wasn’t remotely qualified for - from prison warden to navy surgeon.
Josephine Baker was born a poor girl in St Louis. She went on to become first an international movie star, then a spy for the French Resistance during World War II, and then a civil rights activist.
Hermann Goertz was a Nazi spy who parachuted into World War 2 Ireland to make contact with the IRA…then decided they were so incompetent that he just went on the run instead.
John Osborne was elected governor of Wyoming in 1893, though he had to break into his own office to take control. At his inaugural ball, he danced in shoes made from human skin.
Headstuff also organise a monthly “Headstuff Lectures” event where people go up on stage and talk about random interesting stuff. I’ve done it a few times and it’s been nerve-wracking but great fun. (One of them’s up on Youtube, if you’re interested.)