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.

17 January 1657

Joan Robinson was married at St Clement Danes in the Strand to Robert Whitrow, who seems to have been a drunkard and whom she came in time to think of as positively evil.
17 January 1678

Aphra Behn’s comedy Sir Patient Fancy had a performance at Dorset Garden which may have been its opening.
17 January 1718

The Transportation Act was read by the House of Commons.
It provided an intermediate punishment between the extremes of hanging and discharge: banishment to the American colonies. Sentences were usually for seven years or fourteen years, or for life. Mitigating circumstances could include a consideration of the criminal’s age, the nature of the crime, and whether it was a first offence. Sentences tended to be harsher for property crimes than for crimes against the person. This Act had an exceptionally long gestation.
17 January 1775

Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s first play, The Rivals, had its opening performance.
This was followed by hasty cutting and revising.
17 January 1775

Maria Theresa De Camp (later Kemble) was born in Vienna, into a French family of musicians and dancers.
17 January 1777

Nine months after her first husband’s death, Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore, married Andrew Robinson Stoney, a marital speculator who had already spent the fortune of one mistreated wife.
January 1790

The Ladies Magazine printed a frontispiece with verbal explanation, about the female reader’s access to learning and public life.
The magazine’s Genius or presiding spirit offers research results (evidently extracted from quantities of large tomes lying around) to the deities Britannia and Minerva. They in turn pass it on to a female figure representating women or readers.
January 1791

The musician Joseph Haydn arrived in England.
17 January 1814

Ellen Price (later Ellen Wood) was born at Worcester, the eldest in her family, born (as recent research has revealed) only two months after her parents’ wedding.
17 January 1820

Anne Brontë, the youngest of the family, was born in Thornton, near Bradford in Yorkshire.
17 January 1821

The Morning Chronicle announced that Sydney Morgan’s Italy was “Preparing for the Press.”
17 January 1827

By this date, said Mary Ann Browne, she had completed the title poem of what became her second book of poetry to be published, Ada, and Other Poems.
17 January 1831-June 1832

Charlotte Brontë distinguished herself at Miss Wooler’s Roe Head School, on the outskirts of Mirfield, near Hartshead, Yorkshire.
17 January 1860

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Russian dramatist and short-story writer, was born in the port city of Taganrog, Russia.
17 January 1889

Harriet M’Ilquham stood for election to the county council in Cheltenham division, Gloucestershire; she lost but set a precedent that married women might stand.
17 January 1905

Florence Farr’s masque, The Mystery of Time, a theosophical allegory, was performed at the Albert Hall in London, accompanied by “incidental music for the violin.”
17 January 1908

As part of an intensifying suffrage campaign, several women chained themselves to 10 Downing Street.
17 January 1909-Autumn 1911

Dorothy L. Sayers’s parents sent her to Godolphin school (in Salisbury, Wiltshire) in preparation for Oxford.
17 January 1917

A Women’s Service demonstration was held in the Albert Hall to appeal to women to engage in war work, and to display their determination to “go on doing all that was needed.”
Violet Markham, May Abraham Tennant (co-directors of the National Service Department’s Women’s Branch), Lord Derby (Minister of War), Rowland Edmund Prothero (President of the Board of Agriculture) and John Hodge (Minister of Labour) were the speakers. Queen Mary was in attendance and a speech from her was read in public for the first time.
17 January 1917

Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield first met; before this Woolf had asked Lytton Strachey to arrange a meeting between them.
17-19 January 1927

Virginia Woolf visited Knole for a second time with Vita Sackville-West; this visit formed the genesis of Orlando, which Woolf published in 1928.
17 January 1935

Josephine Tey (as Gordon Daviot) wrote to tell Marda Vanne that she was working on a scenario for a projected film of a romantic novel by the American Ursula Parrott called Next Time We Live; the film was re-titled Next Time We Love.
17 January 1944

Ann Titmuss (later Ann Oakley) was born in the Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London, days before a mini-blitz of bombing began.
17 January 1945

The Russian army captured German-held Warsaw, only months after it had failed to intervene on behalf of anti-Nazi Polish rebels.
The first attack on German control in Warsaw began on 1 August 1944, when Polish citizens revolted against the occupying forces.
17 January 1952

Magistrates in Smethwick, Staffordshire, ordered the destruction of several books and magazines, including the periodicals Sun Bathing Review and Health and Efficiency, obtained during a police raid on a local shop.
The shopkeeper did not oppose the destruction order, but when the publishers of the periodicals learned of the charge, they launched an appeal against the order, and won. The appeal magistrate noted that he based his decision not on agreement with the arguments put forth by the defence, but on the fact that it had not been established beyond a reasonable doubt that the magazines were obscene.
17 January 1954

Natalie Clifford Barney wrote a preface for Gertrude Stein’s As Fine as Melanctha, which was published later that year, eight years after Stein’s death.
17 January 1955

The USS Nautilus, the first nuclear powered submarine, was launched.
17 January 1955

Elizabeth Bowen published her next novel, A World of Love, set in a crumbling Irish great house.
17 January 1961

Patrice Lumumba, anti-colonial leader and Prime Minister of the newly independent Congo for less than a year, was executed in mysterious circumstances at Katanga.
He was thirty-six. Civil war followed within a month, and then the biggest United Nations peacekeeping operation to date. Evidence gradually emerged of CIA and, later, of Belgian instrumentality in Lumumba’s death. His successor, Joseph-Desiré Mobutu, renamed the country Zaire; it is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
17 January 1962

Sylvia Plath’s son, Nicholas Farrar Hughes, was born at home in Plath’s and Hughes’s house, Court Green in Devon, and named after the seventeenth-century Nicholas Ferrar, whom Ted Hughes claimed as a forebear.
17 January 2013

Dervla Murphy published the ironically titled A Month by the Sea, a political travel book whose title’s suggestion of holiday time is belied by its account of life lived under extreme difficulty. (The full title is A Month by the Sea. Encounters in Gaza.)

Reviews of Orlando

Susan Fraiman in Modern Philology

Opening up Orlando reminds me of first seeing Judy Chicago’s installation The Dinner Party (a work likewise remarkable in form as much as content)—three decades later, it is still thrilling and affirming to have women’s countless contributions to Western culture and society made visible. What is new in the twenty-first century, however, is that now the guest list of history-making women is electronic—and there are always more seats at the table. In this sense, Orlando goes beyond earlier constructions of alternative canons, whose printed form tended to reproduce hierarchies of “major” and “minor” writers, not to mention the naturalization of a fixed tradition (143).

We might say, then, that Orlando’s narrative is grand not in its seamless hegemony but rather in its tireless productivity. Ceding narratorial agency to each user, this is a women’s history intrinsically committed to a process of continual revision and multiplication of variants (144).

Flexible, practical, and worldly in its approach to identity politics, Orlando is a good example of what I have optimistically begun to call the New Women’s Studies: feminist scholarship willing once again to proceed under the sign of “women”—not in defiance of theoretical work disaggregating “women” and destabilizing “identity” but precisely through having engaged with and processed this work to the point of making it our common sense (146).

Susan Fraiman. “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens—With Help from a New Digital Resource for Literary Scholars,” Modern Philology, August 2008, 142-48. (Available from Chicago Journals).
1 2 3 4 5
  • Contact Us

    3-5 Humanities Centre,

    Department of English and Film Studies

    University of Alberta

    Edmonton, AB, Canada

    T6G 2E5