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.

19 August 1654

John and Mary Evelyn met an alehouse-keeper in Lincoln: a woman six feet two inches tall; the inn’s custom relied chiefly on “peoples coming to see her” on account of her height.
19 August 1704

Jane Lead died of stomach cancer, composing and dictating almost to the end.
19 August 1775

Exactly three months after the battle of Lexington, bluestocking Frances Boscawen, still eaten up with anxiety for her only surviving son, demanded rhetorically whether the colonies would, “when destroyed, yield either taxes or traffic?”
This sounds as if she already suspected that the war would not be worth while.
19 August 1796

Agnes Strickland was born on the Kentish outskirts of London, the second surviving (though she called herself the third) in a family which grew to comprise six sisters and two brothers.
19 August 1839

Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre’s daguerrotypes (photographic images on silvered copper plates) were shown at a joint meeting of the Académie des Sciences and Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
At this historic meeting Paul Delaroche was said to have announced, “From today painting is dead!” In December 1829 Daguerre had formed a partnership with Joseph Nicéphore Niépce to develop the camera and its photographs. Niépce died in 1833. By 1837 Daguerre had produced clear and detailed pictures on silvered copper plates.
19 August 1839

After two years without a play on the London stage, Catherine Gore again launched out with something unprecedented for her: a one-act, two-character farce, A Good Night’s Rest; or, Two in the Morning.
19-26 August 1850

Charlotte Brontë visited her neighbours Sir James and Lady Kay-Shuttleworth in the Lake District, where she met Elizabeth Gaskell.
19 August 1872

Bessie Rayner Parkes’s husband, Louis Belloc, died of a sudden illness contracted while on holiday in the Auvergne and attributed to sunstroke. His death cast a shadow on the remainder of her life and on the lives of her very young children.
19 August 1874

John Tyndall attacked religion at a British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Belfast.
Although Presidential Addresses conventionally avoided politics in favour of reviewing recent scientific advances, Tyndall mounted an attack on organized religion in the name of science.
19 August 1889

Edith Cooper lost her mother, and Katharine Harris Bradley an only sister, when Emma Harris Cooper died on this day.
19 August 1920

On discovering that Murry and Brett were intimately involved, Katherine Mansfield wrote, “I am simply disgusted to my very soul.”
19 August 1928

James Douglas called for the suppression of Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness in a review in the Sunday Express, declaring that “I would rather give a healthy boy or a healthy girl a phial of prussic acid than this novel.”
19 August 1929

George Bernard Shaw’s The Apple Cart, a futuristic political extravaganza, was first produced in England by Sir Barry Jackson at Malvern’s Festival Theatre.
19 August 1942

The Dieppe raid on German-held France ended in the death or capture of half the Canadian troops involved.
19 August 1942

German General Paulus launched his offensive against Stalingrad.
Both Stalin and Hitler were determined to win the battle for Stalingrad, as the city guarded Russia’s main supply route and was the last between German forces and the River Volga. Its name also gave it symbolic importance. Russian counter-offensives surrounded and isolated Paulus’ 6th Army on 23 November 1942. Hitler ordered Paulus to continue fighting, believing that the Luftwaffe could supply his army by air. The result was a siege in harsh winter conditions, with a huge civilian death-toll from street fighting and starvation.
19 August 1960

Frances Cornford died in Cambridge, having failed to recover fully from a heart attack she suffered earlier that year.
19 August 1962

Sylvia Plath’s verse radio play Three Women: A Monologue for Three Voices was broadcast, posthumously, by the BBC.
19 August 1963

Muriel Spark followed The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie with The Girls of Slender Means, her seventh novel, about young women working for their living and waiting for their lives to take off.
19 August 1977

The comedy Once a Catholic by Mary O’Malley opened at the Royal Court Theatre; it transferred to the West End later this year and won a string of awards.
Michelene Wandor called it “the best-known (and most widely seen) play by a woman writer” in its decade. In bringing the repressions of the Catholic Church up against the “secular energy” of teenage convent-school girls, it also “mischievously test[ed] the taboos of the commercial theatre.” It was given a rehearsed reading at the Royal Court in February 2008 as one of fifty plays marking “key moments in the development of modern drama” during the second part of the twentieth century.
19 August 1987

An unemployed labourer at Hungerford in Berkshire, Michael Robert Ryan, shot dead seventeen people (including his mother) and finally himself.
He wounded a dozen others. Although his several guns were all legal, the incident (dubbed by newspapers the Hungerford Massacre) helped to produce the Firearms (Amendment) Act the following year.
19 August 1991

A coup in the Soviet Union overthrew the Communist government; this led to the crumbling of the Soviet empire.
A group of conservative ministers led by Dmitry Yazov and Gennady Yanayev had the previous day had Prime Minister Gorbachev detained under house arrest. When he refused to declare martial law, they announced his resignation and declared a state of emergency. The West feared the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons, but the commander-in-chief of Soviet rocket forces boldly and resourcefully forestalled this possibility by having the weapons locked away.
Popular protest brought about the collapse of the government which this coup installed, but Gorbachev, though restored, recognised that radical change was now inevitable, and resigned on Christmas Day. At midnight on New Year’s Eve the Soviet flag on the Kremlin came down, to be replaced by the Russian national tricolour.
19 August 2002

Selima Hill published with Bloodaxe Books another poetry collection, entitled Portrait of My Lover as a Horse.

Reviews of Orlando

In Eighteenth-Century Fiction

… each Orlando Project entry serves the beginning student and advanced researcher alike; it provides an introductory survey of a particular author, but can also function as a source of the latest critical understandings of the author and an encouragement for further advanced research on the themes, influences, and cultural contexts radiating out from that author (377).

[…] Orlando‘s most innovative contribution to humanities scholarship is the modelling of more interpretive, open-ended, thematic database research. The database encourages what it terms “Tag Searches,” in which entries have been tagged to highlight key terms relating to topics unique to literary history; searches can return information relating to biographical details, literary production, literary reception, textual features, and essential or “core tag” details such as dates and names. Orlando allows searches for topics that are not part of a “typical” database search—such as editions, circulation, anthologization, and type of press—but are of keen interest to researchers of reading and writing culture. Orlando thus captures some of the most recent trends in history of the book and material culture studies and translates those interests into research queries that can be performed quickly and efficiently (377).

[…] Orlando enacts exciting new approaches to women’s history, literary history, and the history of the book by translating those approaches into an equally exciting database organization. The textbase features authoritative summaries of women’s lives and writing, new cultural and thematic topics for “tagged” investigations, and innovative processes for performing searches across disciplines and time periods. Perhaps most importantly, Orlando encourages the researcher to see new patterns, new connections, and new traditions—and thus to think in new ways. The transformative effect of women’s writing is keenly felt by the Orlando researcher. With its ability to encourage new thinking in both the entry-level student and the advanced researcher, Orlando deserves a prominent place in the electronic database collection of every research library (378).

Ros Ballaster et al. The Orlando Project (review).” Eighteenth Century Fiction 22:2 (2009): 371-379. (Available from Project MUSE).
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