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.
23 April 1616
William Shakespeare, poet and playwright, died on St George’s day at New Place in Stratford, the fine modern house he had bought with his theatrical earnings in 1597.
23 April 1649
London women brought the Petition of divers wel-affected women before the House of Commons demanding the release of John Lilburne and other Levellers.
Katherine Chidley was probably a leading author of this petition, and may have been one of its deliverers also. It was one step in a steady stream of political action by means of petitions this spring, but it was refused by parliament both firmly and insultingly: “it was not for women to petition; they might stay at home and wash their dishes.” Catharine Macaulay wrote with approbation of this particular action, which followed on a general petition on the same subject by 10,000 people of both sexes.
23 April 1649
Katherine Chidley may have been one of the Leveller women who petitioned Parliament for the release of John Lilburne; she may also have been the chief writer of the petition.
23 April 1655
Katherine Philips bore a son, Hector, who died, she said, at forty days old.
23 April 1661
Charles II was crowned in Westminster Abbey, nearly a year after his restoration. Popular rejoicing followed.
23 April 1686
Aphra Behn’s comedy The Luckey Chance; or, An Alderman’s Bargain was licensed; it had probably already opened at Drury Lane with the new United Company.
23 April 1702
Margaret Fell died at Swarthmoor Hall, where she was buried.
23 April 1705
The Tender Husband; or, The Accomplish’d Fool by Richard Steele opened on stage.
It was published on 9 May. This most popular of all Steele’s comedies presents a heroine led astray by her reading of romances in much the style of Charlotte Lennox’s later heroine in The Female Quixote.
23 April 1707
Susanna Centlivre made her final marriage: with Joseph Centlivre, at St Benet Church in London.
23 April 1718
Three years after the death of her separated first husband, Frances, Lady Norton, married his cousin Colonel Ambrose Norton.
23 April 1723
The Prince of Wales was formally reconciled with his father, George I.
23 April 1723
Late in the season, Jane Robe’s tragedy (and only known work) The Fatal Legacy, translated from La Thébaïde by Jean Racine, opened at Lincoln’s Inn Fields; it ran just three nights.
23 April 1734
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s niece Lady Frances Pierrepont, an heiress, eloped from her care with a man whom her aunt considered a fortune-hunter.
23 April 1763
John Wilkes and Charles Churchill’s North Briton number 45 attacked the king’s speech; the arrest of Wilkes and the printers followed.
It was argued that to attack the speech was to attack the king himself. Wilkes (a Member of Parliament) and his associates were quickly released. He then, however, fled to France, and in January 1764 was expelled from the House for nonattendance at court to answer the charges against him.
23 April 1765
Sarah Dixon died at Hackington, a suburb of Canterbury, aged ninety-three.
23 April 1789
A solemn service of thanksgiving for the recovery of George III was held in St Paul’s Cathedral.
More than 700 loyal addresses were sent in from around the country, almost a quarter of them not to the king but the queen.
The St George’s Day Association was formed with the dual intention of suppressing the slave trade and introducing Christianity and civilization to West Africa. The following year it changed its name to the Sierra Leone Company.
23 April 1802
Dorothy Wordsworth celebrated Coniston Fells as “in their own shape and colour—not man’s hills, but all for themselves, the sky and the clouds, and a few wild creatures.”
23 April 1814
Maria Brontë, the eldest of the Brontë children, was baptized.
23 April 1818
J. A. (James Anthony) Froude, historian, was born at Dartington Rectory, Dartington, Devon.
23 April 1826
In the ongoing Greek War of Liberation, Missolonghi in Greece fell to the Ottomans after a year of siege.
The city had successfully resisted an Ottoman seige in 1822-23; its inhabitants were aided in their resistance by, among others, Lord Byron, who died there in April 1824.
23 April 1827
The first husband of Elizabeth Campbell (later Elizabeth Fenton) died in India, less than a year after their marriage.
23 April 1843
Princess Alice Mary Maud, Queen Victoria’s third child, was born.
23 April 1847
At her father’s death, Mary Martin inherited 200,000 acres in Galway, particularly Connemara, along with heavy debts.
23 April 1850
William Wordsworth, Poet Laureate, died at his house, Rydal Mount, at Grasmere in Westmorland.
23 April 1858
Ethel Smyth was born at Sidcup in Kent.
23 April 1858
Ramabai Dongre (later known as Pandita Ramabai) was born, probably in the Gangamul forest within the Mangalore District of Karnataka in Southern India.
23 April 1863
Frances Dana Gage, organizer of the women’s rights conference at Akron, Ohio, where Sojourner Truth had delivered her most famous speech, printed her own transcription in the Independent, published in New York.
23 April 1864
On Shakespeare’s presumed three hundredth birthday, a Working Men’s Shakspeare Celebration was held, at which Henry Marston spoke a Tercentenary Ode written for the occasion by Eliza Cook.
23 April 1867
Millicent Garrett, aged nineteen, married the blind radical MP Henry Fawcett, aged thirty-four, who was also Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge.
23 April 1880
Liberal William Gladstone formed the UK’s government for the second time, following a Conservative disaster in the general election.
He had campaigned vigorously and personally against Disraeli at a time of imperial defeats, crisis in industry and agriculture, and trouble in Ireland.
23 April 1881
Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera Patience opened at the Savoy Theatre; it mocked Oscar Wilde as the “fleshly poet” Bunthorne (in, coincidentally, the first English theatre production to use electric lighting on stage).
23 April 1892
According to their own poetic testimony, Edith Cooper and Katharine Harris Bradley (known collectively as Michael Field) took a vow together on this day to be “[p]oets and lovers evermore.”
23 April 1896
Margaret Moore Kennedy was born at 14 Hyde Park Gate, Kensington.
23 April 1909
Evelyn Sharp wrote in Votes for Women about the volunteer sellers of copies: nicely-dressed middle-class women (the paper could not afford to pay sellers) standing in the gutter hawking their wares, very largely among men.
23 April 1915
The poet and wartime naval officer Rupert Brooke died at sea near the Greek island of Skyros or Scyros, probably from septicaemia caused by a mosquito bite.
23 April 1918
The Irish Trades Union Congress organized a one-day strike against conscription; women involved protested the Conscription Act and pledged not to take jobs vacated by men who had been forced into military service.
The government had introduced “economic conscription” in the spring of 1917, forbidding employers from hiring men between the ages of sixteen and sixty-two. Many women refused to blackleg, or fill the jobs left open by male conscription. Although there was a strong nationalist protest, this campaign played into the longstanding belief that working women might deprive men of jobs, and had repercussions for women in later years, most notably in the terms of the Conditions of Employment Bill of 1935.
The Irish Women’s Franchise League and other women’s organisations supported the Anti-Conscription national strike. One IWFL banner read “Conscription: No woman must take a man’s job.”
23 April 1921
The stage adaptation of Ethel M. Dell’s The Knave of Diamonds, 1913, opened at the Globe Theatre in London.
23 April 1924
The British Empire Exhibition opened at Wembley with a speech by King George V—his first broadcast speech on the BBC.
The Exhibition ran for two years and drew large crowds. It featured marvels of modern engineering, an amusement park, and such achievements as life-size statues in butter.
23 April 1925
Virginia Woolf published The Common Reader, her first volume of collected essays, with her own Hogarth Press, in an edition of 1,250 copies. A second impression of 1,000 copies was issued in November.
23 April 1927
Barbara Cartland married her first husband, Alexander McCorquodale, at St Margaret’s Church in Westminster.
23 April 1932
On the traditional date of Shakespeare’s birthday, the new Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford upon Avon opened with a performance of Henry IV, parts I and II.
23 April 1945
H. D. wrote the first part of her tribute published four years later as By Avon River; this part, concerned with Shakespeare, is a poem entitled Good Frend (the opening words on the inscription on his tomb).
23 April 1945
Blackout regulations throughout England were lifted; it became legal again to use window-coverings of normal weight, to show a light outdoors, and drive on undimmed headlights.
The illumination of Big Ben on 30 April 1945 symbolized the end of the blackout for Londoners.
23 April 1945
Above All Nations was published, an anthology of acts of kindness and compassion between enemies in wartime, compiled by George Catlin, Vera Brittain, and Sheila Hodges of Victor Gollancz.
23 April 1952
Mary Eady, Lady Swinfen (later Mary Wesley) married her second husband, writer Eric Siepmann, whose ancestry was German and Irish though his birth and education were upper-class English.
23 April 1964
Margaret Kennedy’s husband, Sir David Davies, died, leaving her widowed and devastated after thirty-nine years of happy married life.
23 April 1966
The Daily Worker, newspaper of the British Communist Party, issued its last number under this title; the next, of 25 April, was entitled the Morning Star.
23 April 1975
Susan Hill married Shakespearean scholar Stanley Wells on Shakespeare’s birthday at Stratford-on-Avon.
23 April 1985
Gillian Clarke published her Selected Poems, which went through six printings in ten years before being re-issued in 1996.
23 April 1993
The new Globe Theatre on London’s South Bank (masterminded by Sam Wanamaker and designed as a modified replica of Shakespeare’s theatre), although still a building site, put on its first production.
This, mounted by the Bremer Shakespeare Company and opening on the day popularly identified as Shakespeare’s birthday, was a rendering of The Merry Wives of Windsor with five male actors interpreting the entire cast. Productions at the new Globe have continued to be highly idiosyncratic.
23 April 1996
P. L. Travers died at her home in London, at the age of ninety-six.
23 April 1996
The annual BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television) Awards were presented at the London Palladium in celebration of one hundred years of British film-making.
The Best Film was Emma Thompson’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, which also netted Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Joan Morgan (1905-2004), guest of honour, began as a child actress on stage and starred in silent, then in talking films. When Hollywood began to crowd the British film industry she became a writer: of films, novels, stage plays, television scripts, and non-fictional prose.
23 April 1998
The Seduction of Anne Boleyn, another historical play by Claire Luckham, was first presented at Southampton’s Nuffield Theatre.