History Book – The Loch Ness legend is born

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, August 17th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD History Book. Today, the 75th anniversary of a satire that criticizes Stalin’s Russia.

Plus, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

EICHER: But today we begin with the first known sighting of a mythical creature in Scotland. Here’s Paul Butler.


PAUL BUTLER: The year is 565. An Irish abbot and missionary named Columba is stranded on one side of a freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands. He orders one of the monks traveling with him to swim across the lake to fetch a boat. The monk obliges. 


Tradition says that about half way across, an unknown creature suddenly emerges from the deep and rushes the swimmer—roaring as it approaches. 

Much like Tolkien’s standoff between Gandalf and the Balrog in Lord of the Rings, St. Columba is said to have cried out to the monster: “Go no further, nor touch the man. Go back!” 

A biographer writes: “At the voice of the saint, the monster was terrified, and fled more quickly than if it had been pulled back with ropes.” It is the first known sighting of the supposed Loch Ness Monster. 

The first published photograph of the creature was taken by a London surgeon in 1933. The fuzzy photograph, later proven to be a hoax, features what looks like a Plesiosaur with a long neck and large body. A local circus owner offers a large reward to anyone who captures the creature, and “Nessie tourism” is born. 


In the years since, adventurers, amateur naturalists, and renowned scientists have tried to explain the existence of the Loch Ness creature—leading to dozens of possible explanations: including a freshwater sea snake, a large catfish, and most recently, a giant eel. 

We may never know, and those who live around Loch Ness don’t mind, as long as people keep coming to try and figure it out. 

SONG: NESSIE by Leslie Holmes (1934)

Next, August 18th, 1920. Tennessee becomes the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. Audio here from a 1940s retrospective newsreel.

NEWSREEL: Three years after Congress was first presented with the proposed amendment, women all over the nation took their place at the polls. Here in Boston, victory parades before then-Governor Coolidge and members of his staff…The long fight was officially over. Born in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, the suffrage movement, in the words of Carrie Chapman Catt, was a long story of hard work and heartaches, that was crowned with victory. 

And finally, 75 years ago today: August 17th, 1945. A London publisher releases the first edition of the novella Animal Farm—written by Eric Arthur Blair, known by his pen name George Orwell.

The story is an allegory about the events leading to the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the rise of Stalin.

CLIP: He has various characters that represent either real people, or classes of people

Christendom College Professor Patrick Keats from an educational video on YouTube.

CLIP: So let’s start with farmer Jones. Farmer Jones is clearly supposed to be an allegorical symbol of the czar of Russia, Czar Nicholas…in the case of Napoleon, he is clearly Joseph Stalin….the might makes right mentality…

George Orwell, was a democratic socialist, critical of dictatorships and the brutal expression of Stalinistic communism. 

The book received mixed reviews. The American New Republic magazine called the story “dull and clumsy.” But The Guardian said it was a “humorous and caustic satire on the rule of the many by the few.” 

CLIP: In this particular case, what Orwell is writing is a sharp satire of the Soviet Union. The lies, the injustices, the massacres—really, the lack of respect for human life, and also the tendency of the Soviet Union—to rewrite history—Orwell in his characters, and in his writing of what’s going on, is satirizing the Soviet Union. 

U.S. intelligence agencies dropped millions of copies of the book into Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia by balloon from 1952 to 1957. For decades, many high school and college literature classes required their students to read the book, though Animal Farm has fallen out of favor in many modern universities.  

On the 60th anniversary of the first publication, Time magazine chose the book as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

That’s this week’s WORLD History Book, I’m Paul Butler.

(AP Photo/File) This undated file photo shows a shadowy shape that some people say is a the Loch Ness monster in Scotland. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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