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 October 1633

Lady Eleanor Douglas’s Amsterdam publications (one of which was believed to threaten the king’s life) were publicly burned.
23 October 1641

Many Protestants (but perhaps not so many as reported) were killed in a Rebellion or massacre in Ulster.
Rebels claimed to be acting on the authority of Charles I. The future Alice Thornton, in Ireland, later recalled nearly dying of the effects of terror and her family’s repeated flight from alleged dangers. The news and the atrocity reports reached London on 1 November. During the next few months, Protestant Irish refugees flooded into England and Wales. These atrocities later became the excuse for Cromwell’s massacres of Irish Catholics in 1649-50.
Lady Eleanor Douglas thought the 1641 killings marked the anniversary of the burning of her books published at Amsterdam.
23 October 1642

Royalist forces won a battle at Edgehill in Warwickshire: the first pitched battle of the Civil War.
23 October 1677

The marriage of the future monarchs William and Mary “was now declared.”
23 October 1682

Lady Rachel Russell wrote the last of her thirty surviving letters to her husband.
23 October 1693

Alexander Davenant fled to the Canary Islands in order to escape arrest for mishandling the finances of the United Company (now London’s only licensed theatre); joint managers Sir Thomas Skipwith and Christopher Rich were to assume control over the company’s finances.
The crafty lawyer, Christopher Rich, however, soon seized solitary (and tyrannical) power—slashing actors’ salaries and stripping London’s finest players of their leading roles. In revolt, several company members formed an association and protested before the King, who, on 25 March 1695, granted the group its own licencse, thereby putting an end to the one-company monopoly that had reigned since 1682.
23 October 1715

Charlotte Forman was born, one of a family of five: she had a sister and three elder brothers.
23 October 1731

A fire at Ashburnham House in London destroyed the Cottonian Library: a collection of rare books and manuscripts amassed by Sir Robert Cotton, many of them in Old English.
This has been called “perhaps the greatest bibliographical disaster of modern times in Britain.” The Cotton collection had been donated to the nation, but in the absence of a suitable national depository the government had been at a loss what to do with it.
23 October 1739

Britain declared war against Spain. This war, however, was later swallowed up in the War of the Austrian Succession, which involved a larger number of combatants.
23 October 1805

Anna Lee, youngest sister of Sophia and Harriet, hanged herself from the top railing of her bed, and died.
23 October 1807

Jemima Montgomery (later Jemima Tautphoeus) was born at Seaview, Donegal, Ireland.
23 October 1835

George Baxter was granted a patent for reproducing paintings in colour.
The first Baxter prints had appeared the previous year in Mudie’s Feathered Tribes of the British Islands and The Natural History of Birds.
23 October 1835

Frances Trollope’s husband, Thomas Anthony Trollope, died at their home outside Bruges.
23 October 1853

The Sultan of Turkey declared war on Russia; Turkish troops subsequently moved into the Danubian Principalities. This conflict began the Crimean War.
The sultan made his move with English and French support. Britain had failed to restrain Turkey from issuing an ultimatum on October 4th demanding that Russia evacuate the principalities within fifteen days. An estimated 600,000 men died during the war, almost 500,000 of these from disease. Twenty-two percent of the British forces died.
23 October 1872

Théophile Gautier, novelist and poet, died in Paris.
23 October 1872

Not long after their return to England, Matilda Charlotte Houstoun’s husband died.
23 October 1885

The trial began in London of W. T. Stead and others for the abduction of Eliza Armstrong, purchased as a white slave.
Stead did this in the course of research for the Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon. Others charged included Stead’s fellow Gazette employee Samuel Jacques; Rebecca Jarrett, a former prostitute whom Stead persuaded to help him buy the girl for his story; Bramwell Booth and Elizabeth Combe, Salvation Army members who had taken custody of the girl in France; and Louise Mourez, a midwife who had been used to verify Armstrong’s virginity. All were charged with abducting a girl younger than sixteen from her parents. Stead, Jacques, Jarrett, and Mourez were also charged with indecent assault, stemming from the midwife’s examination of the girl.
23 October 1906

On the day that Parliament reconvened, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence was among the eleven suffragists famously arrested for staging a demonstration for female suffrage at the House of Commons.
23 October 1906

During a demonstration at the opening of Parliament, eleven Women’s Social and Political Union supporters were for the first time arrested and imprisoned: for two months in Holloway.
The WSPU had called a conference for the week preceding the opening of parliament, which they were counting on to resolve delicate matters of its constitution, its goals, and its relation to other suffrage and socialist organizations.
The demonstration was a response to the refusal of the recently-elected Prime Minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, to make women’s suffrage a government measure. The ten women arrested were Mary Gawthorpe, Annie Kenney, Annie Cobden Sanderson,
Annie Cobden Sanderson’s husband was the Doves Bindery founder T. J. Cobden Sanderson. They took each other’s names on marriage; before that she was Cobden, he Sanderson.

Adela Pankhurst, Teresa Billington Greig, Dora Montefiore, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, Irene Fenwick Miller, Charlotte Despard, and Minnie Baldock, to whom Sylvia Pankhurst was added at a later stage, after the demonstration and before imprisonment.

23 October 1922

Andrew Bonar Law was chosen leader of the British Conservative Party following the resignation of Lloyd George.
He was Prime Minister for only a few months before he became ill with cancer.
23 October 1922

D. H. Lawrence published Fantasia of the Unconscious, a continuation from Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious, in which he argues that essential differences between the sexes must be kept pure—”pure maleness in a man, pure femaleness in a woman”.
23 October 1929

After a visit to Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in the French Alps, Laura Riding and Robert Graves arrived on the island of Mallorca, where they settled in the village of Deyá in a house called Casa Salerosa.
23 October-7 November 1942

The Second Battle of El Alamein ended in a British victory.
Rommel had abandoned his attempt to take the Suez Canal on 2 September, when his troops were forced back to Deir el Shein, his starting point. Olivia Manning made this confrontation the fulcrum of her novel The Battle Lost and Won, published in 1978.
23 October 1953

The Central African Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was inaugurated.
The Federation was dissolved 31 December 1963.
23 October-4 November 1956

The Hungarian Revolution took place: the reforming Prime Minister Imre Nagy was re-elected, but his government was ousted and protesters put down by Soviet troops.
Hopes had been raised by the process of de-Stalinization. After the uprising many Hungarians left their country as refugees.
23 October 1963

The report of the Robbins Committee on Higher Education (recommending the establishment of new universities in Britain) was accepted by the new Prime Minister, Sir Alec Douglas Home.
This followed a major expansion in the 1950s, during which undergraduate numbers doubled and the decision was taken to found seven new universities. The first of these, the University of Sussex, opened in 1961. Now Colleges of Education (formerly training colleges) were to pass out of Local Education Authorities’ control to become part of the national higher education system. This part of Robbins’s recommendations, however, was rejected in November 1964.
Robbins also contained the first serious debate as to whether student loans would be preferable to grants; the committee concluded that the disadvantages would outweigh the advantages.
23 October 1991

The House of Lords ruled that a husband can be guilty of marital rape; this provision thus became part of British law.

Reviews of Orlando

Jacqueline Wernimont in Digital Humanities Quarterly

Wernimont takes Orlando, together with Women Writers Online, as “exemplary instances of digital literary scholarship.” Orlando’s DTDs or interpretive markup, she writes, are tools which are generative and transformative, not merely declarative. They "can be read as paratextual with respect to the absent primary texts — the literary texts written by women that Orlando articles discuss. Consequently, we can see this markup as generating a feminist and materialist hermeneutic space through which a reading of primary texts is enabled.”

Jacqueline Wernimont, “Whence Feminism? Assessing Feminist Interventions in Digital Literary Archives” (Digital Humanities Quarterly, 7: 1 (2013),

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