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Freemason membership records spanning 190 years published online

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Records of two million members of the secretive Freemasons have been published online, showing that its members during Britain’s imperial heyday included Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde and Rudyard Kipling.

Membership records from 1733 to 1923 — mainly in Britain and the British Empire — have been digitised and published on the family history website Ancestry, the company said Monday.

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“The records demonstrate the extensive involvement which Freemasons have had in British society,” Diane Clements, director of the Freemasonry library and museum, said in a statement.

The records show details including Freemasons’ names, profession, residence and when they joined the society, which grew out of guilds in Britain in the Middle Ages and became a club for men involving ritual and symbols.

Prominent members named in the records include Churchill, who initiated into the Studholme Lodge aged 26 in May 1901.

Wilde, who wrote the novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and plays such as “The Importance of Being Earnest,” appears in the records as a member of the Apollo University Lodge, Cambridge, after his initiation aged 20 in 1875.

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While Churchill, Wilde and Kipling, famed for “The Jungle Book,” have been named as Freemasons before, the directory reveals the span of membership in the British Empire at its height.

The list includes 5,500 police officers, 170 judges, 169 MPs, 16 bishops and an Indian prince, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The scientist Henry Wellcome is named as a member, while Kipling is shown to have been initiated into the Lodge of Hope and Perseverance No 782 in Lahore in what is now the Punjab region of Pakistan in 1886.

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The records, which were taken from originals kept at the London headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England, show that common professions for Freemasons included engineers, merchants, clerks and farmers.

Their release follows a series of initiatives by the Freemasons to be open about their organisation, which has over 200,000 members in England today, and dispel conspiracy theories surrounding it.

“We’re delighted to be able to offer people an online window into a relatively unknown organisation,” Miriam Silverman, senior UK content manager at Ancestry said in a statement on Monday.

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“Whilst we can’t reveal the inner workings of Freemason ceremonies, what we can tell you is the details of over two million historic members.”


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UK travel giant Thomas Cook set to collapse: report

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Thomas Cook's 178-year existence was reported to be coming to an end on Monday after the British travel firm struggled to find private investment to keep it afloat, potentially affecting thousands of holidaymakers.

The operator has said it needs £200 million ($250 million) or else it will face administration, which could affect 600,000 holidaymakers and require Britain's largest peacetime repatriation.

A source close to the negotiations told AFP that the company had failed to find the cash from private investors and would collapse unless the government intervened.

But ministers are unlikely to step in due to worries about the pioneering operator's longer-term viability, the Times reported, leaving it on the brink.

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In a powerful and passionate speech accepting his Emmy, "Pose" actor Billy Porter showered the audience with love and proudly reminded all of their right to belong and be loved.

"Oh, my God. God bless you all! The category is love, y'all, love!" Porter exclaimed.

The epic FX show "Pose" depicts Black and Latinos in the LGBTQ ballroom culture of New York City in the 1980s in the first season and the early 1990s in the second season.

"I am so overwhelmed and so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day," he said. "James Baldwin wrote, 'It took many years of vomiting up the filth I was taught about myself and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.' I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right."

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Paris show of King Tutankhamun artifacts set new record with 1.42 million visitors

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A blockbuster Tutankhamun show set a new all-time French record Sunday, with 1.42 million visitors flocking to see the exhibition in Paris, the organisers said.

The turnout beat the previous record set by another Tutankhamun show billed as the "exhibition of the century" in 1967, when 1.24 million queued to see "Tutankhamun and His Times" at the Petit Palais.

"Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" -- which has been described as a "once in a generation" show -- will open in London in November.

The last time a show of comparable size about the boy king opened there in 1972 it sparked "Tutmania", with 1.6 million people thronging the British Museum.

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