In 1932 a Mrs Reginald Hargreaves, then aged 80, met a man called Peter Llewellyn Davies in a bookshop. I was intrigued by it when I found out, and John Logan actually wrote a play about it.
I’ve always been interested in such things, though I suppose some of them aren’t as surprising as I think. When Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen they were both in the Army, and both tortured poetic souls so I don’t suppose it’s too surprising they met at Craiglockhart. There’s a play about that too, and a book.
Sassoon also knew Robert Graves, though that’s well known. It’s also well known that they fell out. What I didn’t know was that they met again in the 1950s when taking their sons to Oundle School. I’ve often driven through Oundle, but had never known that.
Clark Gable and Jimmy Stewart both flew combat missions from England during the war, once meeting up for a photo-opportunity. Gable flew from Polebrook and Molesworth, neither of which are too far from Oundle. I’m struggling to find a reference for the meeting, but you can find a photo here, where Pacific Paratrooper comes up trumps. This shows you don’t need the internet when you have bloggers.
I suppose the chances of two Hollywood stars being photographed together when serving overseas is quite high.
Same goes for the chances of two academics with literary leanings joining the same literary society, as J. J. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis did with The Inklings. It’s a small pool, so the chances were probably good.
There’s a good article on probability and coincidence here. I’ve actually been in a room with around 75 people and done the birthday one – we had three matches.