Who's That Guy?


Photo of person wearing a Guy Fawkes mask at Occupy Wall Street by david_shankbone.

"Remember, remember, the fifth of November!"

You may have seen a mask similar to this being worn by some people at the various "occupy" events or at demonstrations associated with Anonymous. You might have been moved to ask "Who is that guy?" Well, if you insert a comma into your question you come up with the answer. "Who is that, guy?" It's a Guy Fawkes mask.

Gunpowder Plot

And who was Guy or Guido Fawkes? A conspirator in the Gunpowder Plot...a plot to blow up the houses of Parliament and kill King James. Antonia Fraser has written an excellent book about the event , Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot.

Remembering the Past

The events of the fifth of November are also covered in Great Tales From English History. The discovery and foiling of this plot are still celebrated across England on Guy Fawkes Night with bonfires, fireworks, and the burning of Guy Fawkes in effigy. A short poem is often repeated...

"Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot."

The Traditions of Guy Fawkes Night (on the Penumbra website is a good place to learn more about these events and their customs.


The face of Guy Fawkes as conspirator has reappeared in the movie V for Vendetta, a tale of rebellion in some distopian fascist England of the future. I suspect that this may have inspired some of the folks wearing masks today.

Photo credit: david_shankbone


Author Bio:

Joe Toschik is a Half Moon Bay librarian who has lived and worked on the Coast for about 17 years. A former Air Force meteorologist, he is still a weather nut. His hobbies include photography and walking the Coastal Trail.

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