Meet Poker Alice Tubbs

STORIES abound of Suffolk men and women who led extraordinary lives, in Carol Twinch's new publication The Little Book of Suffolk. In our second feature charting the highlights, features editor TRACEY SPARLING tells of the fascinating and famous in our county.

By Tracey Sparling

STORIES abound of Suffolk men and women who led extraordinary lives, in Carol Twinch's new publication The Little Book of Suffolk. In out second feature charting the highlights, features editor TRACEY SPARLING tells of the fascinating and famous in our county.

FROM suffragettes to Old Grogham and Poker Alice Tubbs in the American Wild West, Suffolk has spawned some fascinating characters over the centuries.

The Little Book of Suffolk by Carol Twinch has drawn together a mix of tales and facts about the county and today we bring you the tasters of the people she mentions.

Carol was born at Eye and went to school in Lowestoft and Ipswich and after travelling the world now lives in Rendham, Suffolk.

The Little Book of Suffolk costs £9.99 from bookshops, but we have five copies to give away in a prize draw. Just send your name and address on a postcard by November 30 to Little Book Competition, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 1AN.

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One of the most colourful women in the early days of the American Wild West was Poker Alice Tubbs (1851-1930) who was born in Sudbury.

Her schoolmaster father loved travel and emigrated to Virginia in 1867, taking his petite and beautiful only daughter with him. Alice was brought up as respectable and religious. But when they moved to Colorado she met cowboys and miners who were mostly destitute so gambling was their chief occupation. She quickly married a miner and learned by watching him play poker night after night. When he was killed in a mining accident she was left to fend for herself and took to the gaming tables to become one of the most successful female professional gamblers in the south.

She took to the road by stagecoach to play poker at the most notorious frontier towns, shot a man who pulled a knife on the man who became her next husband, opened a saloon and always said 'I would rather play poker with five or six experts than eat.' She died penniless, ill and alone.

In May 1911, Constance Andrews of Ipswich went to prison for a week for refusing to pay her dog licence. She was secretary of the Ipswich branch of the National Union for Women's Suffrage Societies and said she resented having to pay a dog tax when she had no say in parliamentary elections.

On her release she urged her supporters not to pay their dog licence and that if they did not have a dog they should buy one so that the prisons would be full.

On July 10 1848, Ipswich newspapers declared that 'a most extraordinary feat of diving on record was accomplished here on Monday by William Portuge, better known as 'Don the Diver.'

Fliers were distributed saying this intrepid fellow would walk under water from Harwich across the harbour to Shotley Gate.

Many thought it was a hoax, but at 12noon on the appointed day, Don the Diver arrived wearing 'improved air apparatus' provided by Messrs Lewis in Ipswich. He was lowered into the water from a boat and to the astonishment of hundreds of spectators, proceeded on his perilous journey. Numerous boatloads of spectators sailed over his path and he arrived at Harwich at 1.20pm, to be loudly cheered by a large crowd. Heartened by such support he announced a plan to walk under water again, this time from Landguard Point to Harwich.

In 2005, a chance sighting of 60s fashion icon Twiggy at the Crown Hotel in Southwold led to a revival of the fortunes of Marks & Spencer. M&S marketing boss Steven Sharp who lives in the town, was having lunch with his wife when she said' Don't look round but Twiggy has just walked in.”

Twiggy, who also lives in Suffolk, was approached and agreed to front a famous marketing campaign to win back women customers in the 35 to 55 age range. Twiggy said she had been 'off-duty' at the time, wearing no make-up, a winter coat and a cap but Mr Sharp was captivated and his gamble paid off.

Elizabeth Acton (1799-1859) of Ipswich was the first writer to produce a cookbook for the domestic reader, and introduced the practice of listing the ingredients at the beginning of each recipe.

She also wrote poetry and her subscribers list included the Cobbolds, Alexanders and Churchmans. TV cook Delia Smith who lives near Stowmarket spent hours in the British Museum reading room discovering traditional recipes including those by 'Eliza' Acton.

Vernon Street in Ipswich is named after Admiral Edward Vernon (1684-1757) MP for Ipswich 1741-1754 who lived at Nacton. He acquired the nickname Old Grogham because he wore breeches and a cloak made of grogham, a mixture of silk, and wool or mohair. He was famous for introducing the practice of watered rum to the Navy. In August 1740 he ordered that a quarter pint of rum, issued daily to each sailor, be diluted to prevent drunkenness. The mixture was called Grog after him.

Children's author Enid Blyton came to Seckford Hall near Woodbridge in 1916 to stay with friends. She then moved to Christchurch Street in Ipswich to train as a playgroup teacher at Ipswich High School. She was already writing stories but not yet published.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was written by Jane Taylor (1783-1824) whose London family moved to Lavenham in 1786. Jane and her sister Ann both write poetry from an early age and The Star from 1806 had five verses.

Swallows and Amazons author Arthur Ransome (1884-1967) and his Russian wife Evgenia lived at Broke Farm, Levington and at Harkstead Hall on the Shotley peninsula. With Yorkshireman Arthur having made his name with Swallows and Amazons set in the Lake District, they decided to move here soothe sea air could help Arthur's health and he could indulge his passion for sailing.

He describes the barges at Pin Mill in his book We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea.

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