Three meetings that changed the course of history

Modern history is littered with famous meetings, where key figures of their era – politicians, artists, celebrities – enjoyed each other's company for the first time.

In 1842, the writers Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens – who lived on either side of the Atlantic – convened for a first meeting at a Philadelphia hotel.

Dickens, the emerging British novelist, had travelled to America to deliver a lecture on international copyright law. He agreed to meet with the little-known Poe, 32 at the time – and the duo discussed the literature of the age.

Another famous meeting from the 19th century involved the Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone, who was known to be in Africa but had not been heard from in three years.

Journalist Henry Stanley was hired by the New York Herald to track down the 'missing' Livingstone – who was eventually located in Ujiji near Lake Tanganyika.

Upon their meeting, Stanley uttered the immortal words: "Dr Livingstone, I presume?"

Fast forward to 1975, and another world-famous meeting took place – this time in space.

Two men aboard the Soviet spacecraft Soyuz met with three from the final Apollo mission – in a stunt designed to ease political tensions at the height of the Cold War.

The image of Thomas Stafford and Alexei Leonov shaking hands through the open hatch of the Soyuz has been printed and reprinted all over the globe.

Clearly not every meeting can have international significance and go down in history – but this does not mean such events are unimportant.

Each meeting is significant to the parties involved, and the selection of an appropriate venue – such as professional meeting rooms – can help them make the most of their brief time together.

23 March 2012

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