Today in Orlando
This is a small sample drawn from within and beyond the lives and careers of writers. Look again tomorrow! Read more about The Orlando Project chronology.
20 November 1558
In a speech delivered a few days after her accession, Queen Elizabeth I spoke of the crown as a burden laid on her by God, which she obediently accepted.
20 November 1689
Aphra Behn’s comedy The Widdow Ranter; or, The History of Bacon in Virginia had a posthumous performance at Drury Lane which may have been its first.
20 November 1705
Susanna Centlivre’s comedy The Basset Table opened at Drury Lane.
20 November 1711
Delarivier Manley dated her anonymous 16-page pamphlet A True Relation of the Several Facts and Circumstances of the Intended Riot and Tumult on Queen Elizabeth’s Birth-day.
20 November 1737
Caroline of Anspach, Queen of England, died of a rupture after eleven days of excruciating illness.
After her death she continued to be satirised by opposition writers. She was a highly cultured woman, a significant patron, and the political brains behind her husband. She died slowly and painfully of a rupture she had concealed because of his horror of illness.
20 November 1750
Priscilla Bell (later Priscilla Wakefield) was born at Tottenham in Middlesex, then just outside London. She was the eldest in a family of six.
20 November 1752
Thomas Chatterton, poet and forger, was born, between 6 and 7 p.m., in Bristol.
20 November 1753
The Royal Society conferred its gold medal on Benjamin Franklin for his experiments with electricity.
20 November 1786
The Universal Register (later The Times) printed a letter from Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore, to Lord Mansfield, the Chief Justice, of 10 November, before her recent abduction by her estranged husband.
20 November 1797-9 July 1798
The short-lived Anti-Jacobin monthly (first under this title) appeared, edited by William Gifford.
It was collected in two volumes in 1799. Meanwhile the better-known and equally reactionary journal of the same title, Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine, under John Gifford and Richard Bissett, began in July 1798.
20 November 1800
Mary Robinson (in the month before her death) published through both Longman and the Bristol firm of Cottle, Lyrical Tales.
20 November 1805
Ludwig van Beethoven conducted the first performance of his opera, Fidelio, in Vienna.
This was the three-act Fidelio. It was revised in two-act form the following year. The opera reached London (sung in German) on 18 May 1832.
20 November 1817
Hannah Kilham confided to her diary her plans, when she had finished her current publishing ventures, “to attempt the reduction [that is, conversion to written form] of unwritten languages.”
20 November 1818
Mary Shelley and her family arrived at Rome, where they stayed less than two weeks, busily sightseeing.
20 November 1839
Missionary John Williams was clubbed to death by cannibal islanders of Erromanga in the New Hebrides; missions on many of the islands were fraught with danger.
Erromanga was sometimes called the Martyrs’ Isle.
20 November 1846
Harriet Martineau arrived by ship in North Africa, on the beginning of her trip through Egypt and the Holy Land.
20 November to 18 December 1879
Frances Power Cobbe delivered at the Westminster Palace Hotel in London to an exclusively female audience a series of public lectures later published as The Duties of Women.
20 November 1895
The St Bride Printing Library was opened by Sir Walter Besant.
The libraries of William Blades, John Southward, and Talbot B. Reed constituted its early holdings. The library later became “one of the world’s finest technical libraries for both printers and historians.”
20 November 1903
Eleanor Rathbone presented a report which next year became her first publication: Report of an Inquiry into the Conditions of Dock Labour at the Liverpool Docks.
20 November 1906
George Bernard Shaw’s medical satire, The Doctor’s Dilemma, opened at the Court Theatre in London.
20 November 1906
Virginia Woolf’s brother Thoby Stephen died of typhoid fever, aged twenty-six.
20 November 1910
A revolt in Mexico against thirty years of dictatorship failed, but set the scene for a long-running revolution which eventually produced a constitutional republic.
The revolution is often associated with the name of Emiliano Zapata. Its end is sometimes dated from the election of November 1920 (after Zapata had been assassinated), but sometimes not till 1934, when reforms were institutionalized, the existing constitution stabilised, and sporadic fighting came to an end.
20 November 1911
Virginia Stephen (later Virginia Woolf) moved again, from 29 Fitzroy Square to 38 Brunswick Square, with her brother Adrian and friends.
20 November 1915
Elizabeth Baker’s four-act comedy Over a Garden Wall was first performed at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
20 November 1917
381 tanks broke through the German lines at Cambrai “and for the first and last time bells were rung in London to celebrate a victory.”
20 November 1923
Nadine Gordimer was born in Springs, East Rand, South Africa.
20 November 1925
Thomas Hardy published another volume of poems, Human Shows, Far Phantasies, Songs, and Trifles.
20 November 1926
The Commonwealth became the new name of the former British Empire.
20 November 1928
Faber and Gwyer (soon to be Faber and Faber) published T. S. Eliot’s For Lancelot Andrewes: Essays on Style and Order, dedicated to his mother.
20 November 1938
The 1916 Veterans’ Association of Ireland passed a motion protesting against “the growing menace of alien immigration”, which targeted Jewish refugees.
In 1943 more than one Irish County Council passed a resolution deploring “the fact that several foreigners, mainly Jews, have succeeded in having their names changed to names of Irish origin.”
20 November 1945 – 1 October 1946
The first set of Nuremberg trials, called the Trial of the Major War Criminals, took place before the International Military Tribunal.
Nuremberg, Germany, was chosen as the new seat of international justice partly for its symbolic value: major Nazi Party rallies been held there during the Third Reich, and the Nuremberg Laws, passed on 15 September 1935, had first deprived German Jews of citizen rights. Six organizations were now declared criminal: the leadership of the Nazi Party itself, the SS, the SD, the Gestapo, the SA, and the High Command of the German Army.
Twenty-four leading members of the Nazi Party and architects of the Holocaust were tried on four charges: conspiracy to commit crimes agaisnt peace; planning, initiating, and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity. Ultimately, twelve were sentenced to death, three to life imprisonment, and four to lesser prison terms. However, central figures such as Hitler, Himmler, and Goebbels were already dead, and others (such as Hermann Goering and Robert Ley) committed suicide during the trials.
The Nuremberg trials have had a shaping effect on subsequent international law and criminal justice, by establishing the Nuremberg Principles, which outline what constitutes a war crime, and by emphasising the role of individual conscience and morality in rejecting the following orders defence.
20 November 1947
Princess Elizabeth married the Duke of Edinburgh; BBC radio broadcast the wedding service, and BBC television covered the procession as well.
20 November 1949
Edith Sitwell published her poetry collection The Canticle of the Rose / Selected Poems, 1920-1947; passages of the title poem had appeared previously in periodicals.
20 November 1953
Edith Sitwell published Gardeners and Astronomers, another volume of poetry.
20 November 1958
Muriel Spark published her first volume of short fiction, The Go-Away Bird with Other Stories, with a print-run of 2,500, dedicated to her former lover Derek Stanford.
20 November 1958
Flora Klickmann died; her death was reported in the South Wales Argus and from there reached other papers.
20 November 1962
Winifred Peck died in Edinburgh, aged eighty.
20 November 1962
Edna O’Brien’s first play, A Cheap Bunch of Nice Flowers, made its debut at the New Arts Theatre in London. In 1963, J. C. Trewin published it in his edited collection Plays of the Year.
20 November 1975
At a Philadelphia preview of Enid Bagnold’s final play, A Matter of Gravity, Katharine Hepburn stopped her performance mid-sentence when a photographer attempted to take her picture.
20 November 1984
Anne Devlin’s television play The Long March was shown on BBC One.
20 November 2008
Ruth Rendell’s Portobello, an intensely local thriller set in West London’s edgy Notting Hill, is another of her own favourites.
20 November 2011
Shelagh Delaney died in Suffolk at the age of seventy-two.