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.

27 August 1576

Titian died in Venice after living around ninety years; he was the most prominent of the painters later called the Venetian school.
27 August 1652

Alice Thornton bore her first child, a daughter, who died half an hour later; she had conceived, she said, about seven weeks after her wedding.
27 August 1743

Henry Pelham (a Whig) became Prime Minister in succession to Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington.
27 August 1771

Songs from Dorothea Du Bois’s second musical drama, The Divorce, were sung at Marylebone Gardens, London.
27 August 1773

Dorothea Du Bois’s The Divorce opened at Marylebone Gardens, with music by James Hook.
27 August 1784

Following the first balloon ascents of the Montgolfier brothers and Vincenzo Lunardi in November 1783, James Tytler made the first balloon ascent in Britain: he reached a height of 350 feet at Comely Gardens, Edinburgh.
Elizabeth Inchbald had already opened her play-writing career with a farce on ballooning, The Mogul Tale, Haymarket, London, 6 July 1784.
27 August 1784

Hannah More wrote her first surviving letter about Ann Yearsley to Elizabeth Montagu, recounting in high terms the former’s intense gratitude to the latter.
27 August 1831

The Athenæum published Maria Jane Jewsbury’s essay on the literary career of Jane Austen, thought to be the first substantial, formal, printed comment on her work by a woman.
27 August 1832

Ann Hatton sent off family reminiscences designed for insertion in Thomas Campbell’s life of her sister Sarah Siddons (a work which was published in 1834).
27 August 1858

One of the few messages to be successfully transmitted over the newly completed transatlantic telegraph cable announced that the British suppression of the Indian Mutiny was making progress.
27 August 1864

A reporter with the Pictorial World wrote with horror and disgust a report entitled Female Miners in Male Attire.
The women he saw were not below ground, but they were wearing coarse shirts and trousers, bare-armed, smoking short pipes, and “performing labours totally unsuited to their sex.”
27 August 1883

The volcano Mount Krakatoa in the Indonesian archipelago erupted with a force equal to multiple nuclear explosions: the 40,000 people killed included thousands of victims of tidal waves in Hawaii; the ash propelled into the upper atmosphere affected the whole world.
Mathilde Blind’s two sonnets titled The Red Sunsets, 1883 describe the awestruck and often superstitious reactions to the spectacular skies that followed the eruption.
27 August 1904

Norah Robinson (later Norah Lofts) was born at Shipdham in Norfolk, according to the Feminist Companion.
27 August 1928

The Kellogg-Briand Pact, also known as the Pact of Paris, was signed by Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States: they agreed on the renunciation of aggression by means of war.
Over sixty countries eventually became signatories. However, the pact ultimately failed because it made no enforcement provisions against non-compliant signatories. The British Government, for example, made it clear when signing that Britain still reserved the right to defend its territories. From this year Germany was planning systematic re-armament.
27 August 1932

Antonia Pakenham (later Antonia Fraser) was born, the eldest in a family which in the end amounted to eight children.
27 August 1949

The same day that her first divorce came through, Penelope Dimont married her second husband, the young, up-and-coming barrister and writer John Mortimer.
27 August 1950

The BBC made its first live television broadcast from the Continent (from Calais) using outside broadcast equipment.
27 August 1959

Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester; she was given up for adoption.
August 1964

Walt Disney released its award-winning movie adaptation of Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers in the USA; the British release happened a year later.
27 August 1969

Ivy Compton-Burnett died, after some months of being cared for, protected, bullied, and often denied to visitors, by her maid, Mary.
27 August 1971

Bahrain became independent from Britain.
The UK also withdrew from Qatar (1 September 1971), Oman (7 November 1971), and the United Arab Emirates (2 December 1971).
27 August 1981

A group of thirty-six women left Cardiff on foot, to walk the 120 miles to the RAF base at Greenham Common near Newbury to protest against the plan for its use as a home for Cruise nuclear missiles.
The walk took ten days. Marchers included a few men and small children; one woman brought her one-year-old son, and returned with him nineteen years later to witness the final striking of the camp which was set up outside the base on 5 September 1981. At first open to both sexes, it became a women-only camp the following year. The local council unwillingly laid on water and collected rubbish
27 August 1984

Amabel Williams-Ellis died in her ninetieth year.
27 August 1996

The topical title of Antonia Fraser’s historical study The Gunpowder Plot: Terror Faith in 1605 was emended in the USA to Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot.
27 August 2001

British officials stationed at Prague airport resumed immigration checks which were said to prevent abuse of Britain’s asylum system, but were criticized for targeting the Gipsy, or Roma, population.
Critics included Czech President Vaclav Havel. The controversy has been fanned by a video that showed a Roma journalist being turned away while his non-Roma colleague (claiming the same travel plans and funds) was allowed to enter. The estimated population of gipsies living in Britain was then 300,000. In an incident suggesting popular racism of a related kind, a number of people were arrested in November 2003 after group calling itself the Firle Bonfire Society burned an effigy of a Roma caravan at Firle in East Sussex.

Reviews of Orlando

Melanie Bigold in ABO

Like most scholars today, I make frequent use of digital databases . . . . Most of these sessions have left me jaded about the motivations (grant capture before research questions) and limitations (potential obsolescence) of such initiatives. Orlando is, and hopefully will remain, one of the exceptions in this landscape. . . . the term textbase rather than database signal[s] the myriad ways the text and electronic structure can provide qualitative responses to complex research questions. This is not digitisation with extras but literary scholarship and history that is searchable and adaptable to the needs of individual researchers.

Melanie Bigold. ABO. Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts, 3:1 (April 2013).

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