Mary Anning He became world famous for his fossil discoveries but his life was difficult. She came from a poor background, and her life took a turn for the worse when her father died when she was young.

On 19 August 1800, aged 15 months, she narrowly escaped death. She was taken to an outdoor equestrian show by family friend Elizabeth Haskings and two other women. The afternoon turned very gloomy “there was a terrible peal of thunder” and Mary’s group ran for shelter under a tree before lightning struck and killed the three women. Mary also appeared dead but was taken home, given a warm bath and miraculously revived. Her biographer, George Roberts, wrote: “Mary Anning was born a dull child but grew up lively and intelligent after the accident.”

On very rare occasions lightning has caused other life-changing miracles. Neurologist Oliver Sacks described in his book Musiophilia how a surgeon, Tony Cicoria, was nearly killed by lightning in 1994. He recovered and became obsessed with music: he heard it in his head, learned to play the piano and composed his own music.


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