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 January 1421

Margery Kempe’s prayers and tears were credited with bringing a snowstorm which put out a disastrous fire at Lynn in time to save St Margaret’s Church.
23 January 1585

Joan Ward, later Mary Ward, was born at Mulwith Manor, Mulwith in Yorkshire (near the moors), the eldest of six children.
23 January 1590

Edmund Spenser dated (using the old-style reckoning of 1589) his letter to Sir Walter Ralegh “expounding his whole intention” in the first three books of The Faerie Queene, which was published soon afterwards.
He had begun writing the poem a decade earlier. The second edition, published in 1596, added three more books out of the projected total of twelve and caused a crisis by depicting actual people as fictional or allegorical characters. It was withdrawn from sale for a time: a fact which is often read as indicating the influence that Spenser wielded through his poetry (though the same thing happened to Lady Mary Wroth’s Urania a generation later, in 1621). The two closing Mutabilitie Cantos were added in 1609.
Spenser’s innovative blend of epic, romance, and allegory, native and foreign influences, is signalled in his newly-invented stanza form. Each book relates the quest adventures of a particular knight who signifies a particular virtue: especially well known are the Red-Cross Knight of book one, who seeks to rescue from a dragon the parents of Una, or Christian truth, and Britomarte of book three, the female knight of chastity or of sexual fidelity (who later, in book five, rescues her husband, Artegall, the knight of Justice). The overall dedication to Queen Elizabeth is accompanied by seventeen dedicatory sonnets, including one to Mary, Countess of Pembroke.
23 January 1615

John Donne sealed his conversion from Roman Catholicism (probably long since complete) by being ordained a priest of the Church of England at St Paul’s Cathedral, of which he was later to become Dean.
23 January 1617

At Liège on her twenty-second birthday, Mary Ward began an autobiography on the model of St Augustine’s Confessions, which takes her life to the age of fifteen only.
23 January 1720

The Lord Chancellor (the Duke of Newcastle) closed Drury Lane Theatre for several days because of a dispute with its licensee, Steele.
23 January 1729

Clara Reeve was born at Ipswich in Suffolk, the eldest daughter in a family of eight children.
23 January 1741

Samuel Richardson’s handbook of pattern letters, the work whose composition he had interrupted for Pamela, finally appeared, anonymously like all his books. It is generally known as Familiar Letters.
23 January 1744

Elizabeth Griffith’s father, actor-manager Thomas Griffith, died in Dublin at the age of sixty-three, while Elizabeth was still in her teens.
23 January 1783

Marie Henri Beyle (later the novelist Stendhal) was born in Grenoble, France.
23 January 1789

Frances Brooke died at Sleaford in Lincolnshire, two days after her husband had died in Norfolk.
23 January 1791-31 December 1792

Ann Radcliffe’s husband, William Radcliffe, was editor of the Gazetteer, a radical, Foxite, pro-French-Revolution paper.
23 January 1806

The death of William Pitt after a long term as Prime Minister and war leader altered the face of English politics.
23 January 1820

Edward, Duke of Kent, died of pneumonia less than eight months after the birth of his daughter Alexandrina Victoria, future queen of England.
23 January 1826

Colburn published Mary Shelley’s fantasy novel The Last Man, as by the author of Frankenstein.
23 January 1829

Leah Sumbel died in London, in her sixties.
23 January 1837

Agnes Maule Machar was born in Kingston, Upper Canada.
23 January 1859

Katharine Tynan was born at South Richmond Street, South Circular Road, Dublin.
23 January 1874

Queen Victoria’s son Crown Prince Alfred married Marie, Grand Duchess of Russia.
23 January 1875

Charles Kingsley, clergyman and novelist, husband of Fanny Kingsley and father of Mary St Leger Kingsley (who later wrote as Lucas Malet), died at Eversley, Hampshire.
23 January 1876

Three weeks after her novel Dante and Beatrice appeared, Roxburghe Lothian died of unknown causes at the present Bellaport Old Hall, near the village of Norton in Hales in Shropshire (which is in turn near Market Drayton).
23 January 1883

Gustave Doré, illustrator, died in Paris.
23 January 1890

Emily Jane Pfeiffer died of pneumonia at her home in Putney, a year and a day after the death of her husband.
23 January 1890

Rose Allatini was born in Vienna.
23 January 1895

The Associated Booksellers of Great Britain and Ireland was founded at a meeting of booksellers from throughout the UK.
23 January 1911

The Ulster Women’s Unionist Council was established to oppose Irish Home Rule and campaign for the continuing union of Ireland with Britain.
Its founders and leaders, Theresa, Marchioness of Londonderry, and Mary Anne, Duchess of Abercorn, intended it to complement the male-dominated Ulster Unionist Council. By 1913 the women’s council had grown into the “largest female political association in early 20th century Ireland with a membership of between 115,000-200,000.” The council also did philanthropic work, particularly during the First World War, and advocated female enfranchisement. Various branches started up throughout Ireland, some of which continued to meet into the 1960s and 70s. Its papers are now held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
23 January to 30 July 1915

D. H. Lawrence finished writing his novel The Rainbow at Shed Hall, Viola Meynell’s cottage at Humphrey’s Homestead, Greatham; she helped him type the manuscript.
23 January 1918

Augusta Gregory’s son, Robert Gregory, died in the First World War, on the forgotten Italian front, accidentally shot down by an Italian ally.
23 January 1926

Much of Sarah Grand’s home, Crowe Hall in Bath, perished in an early morning house-fire; her sixty-two-year-old cook died in the fire.
23 January 1929

The first local branch of the National Union of Guilds for Citizenship (later the National Union of Townswomen’s Guilds) opened at Haywards Heath.
The Guilds (an offshoot of the campaigning National Union for Societies of Equal Citizenship or NUSEC, concerned better to qualify women for the vote to which they were now entitled) numbered 113 local branches in Great Britain within two years, and cut loose from NUSEC in 1933.
23 January 1936

Laura Riding’s Progress of Stories was published by the Seizin Press and Constable (who now agreed to distribute books with the Seizin imprint), bearing the date of 1935.
23 January 1937

Mary Farmar (later Mary Wesley) married Charles Swinfen Eady, Lord Swinfen, known as Carol, a barrister who was eight years her senior and had courted her for years.

Reviews of Orlando

Alison Booth in Biography

[H]igh standard of biographical and historiographical interpretation and writing . . . an irrefutable confirmation that any one life (and life writing) is always a network of relations, locations, events, and categories (Booth 728).

Orlando isn’t just all about any woman writer who ever had anything to do with the British Isles, and some affiliated writers, or about the historical context for these longstanding traditions. It’s also all about markup. It’s about demystifying digital research for the scholar who might secretly still believe technology belongs to non-humanists or to nerdy men. On the contrary, markup is man-womanly in a Woolfian sense, some sort of cross-dressing of logic, poetry, sewing, and architecture. No longer romanticizing infinite possibilities, the digital community acknowledges that coding is interpretive (729).

Alison Booth. Biography 31: 4 (Fall 2008), 725-34.(Available from Project MUSE).
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