United Kingdom – GENERAL INFORMATION – Culture


The United Kingdom contains two of the world’s most famous universities, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Oxford, and has produced many great scientists and engineers including Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday, Paul Dirac and Isambard Kingdom Brunel amongst others; the nation is credited with the invention of the steam engine, locomotive, 3-piece suit, vaccination, lead crystal, television, radio, the telephone, submarine, hovercraft, and both the internal combustion and jet engines.

Playwright William Shakespeare is arguably the most famous writer in world history; other well-known writers include the Brontë sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne), Jane Austen, J. K. Rowling, Agatha Christie, J. R. R. Tolkien and Charles Dickens. Important poets include Lord Byron, Robert Burns, Lord Tennyson, Thomas Hardy, William Blake and Dylan Thomas. (see main article: British literature).

Notable composers from the United Kingdom have included William Byrd, John Taverner, Thomas Tallis, and Henry Purcell from the 16th and early 17th centuries, and, more recently, Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Arthur Sullivan (most famous for working with librettist Sir W. S. Gilbert), Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten, and John Tavener in the 19th and 20th.

The UK was, with the US, one of the two main contributors in the development of rock and roll, and the UK has provided some of the most famous pop stars, including the Beatles, Sir Cliff Richard, Queen, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and many others. The UK was at the forefront of punk rock music in the 1970s with bands such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash, and the subsequent rebirth of heavy metal with bands such as Motörhead and Iron Maiden. In mid to late ’90s, the Britpop phenomenon has seen bands such as Oasis, Blur, Radiohead, Coldplay and Supergrass gain international fame. Developing on from this success, British bands, notably Franz Ferdinand, have in 2004 burst onto to the world scene as a part of the indie movement, with the UK largely seen as the home of such music. The UK is also at the forefront of electronica, with British artists such as Aphex Twin, Talvin Singh, Nitin Sawhney and Lamb at the cutting edge. (see main article: Music of the United Kingdom).

A great number of major sports originated in the United Kingdom, including association football (soccer), golf, cricket, squash, boxing, rugby, billiards, and rounders, the forerunner of baseball. England won the 1966 FIFA World Cup and the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The Wimbledon Championships are an international tennis event held in Wimbledon in south London every summer and are seen as the most prestigious of the tennis calendar.

The national sport of the UK is association football (known simply as “football”), but the UK does not compete as a nation in any major football tournament. Instead the home nations compete individually as England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is because of this unique 4 team arrangement that the UK does not compete in football events at the Olympic Games, despite having invented the game. A similar arrangement applies to Rugby Union as well, except that a single team represents all of Ireland – the Republic of Ireland as well as Northern Ireland – although from time to time the British and Irish Lions (comprising the best players from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland) tour other countries. (see main article: Sport in the United Kingdom).

William Shakespeare(1564 to 1616)