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 April 1651
Mary Cary published two separate tracts making up a single volume: The Little Horns Doom and Downfall and A New and More Exact Mappe; or, Description of New Jerusalems Glory.
17 April 1688
Aphra Behn’s The Fair Jilt: or, The History of Prince Tarquin and Miranda, her first novel or short fiction, was licensed with the Stationers’ Company.
17 April 1695
Sor (Sister) Juana Inez de la Cruz, nun and writer, “the greatest poet the American continent produced in the seventeenth century,” died in her convent in Mexico City.
Her written works include poetry, plays, and theology; they first reached print in a posthumous edition in 1700. She has been a focus of interest for modern feminists: re-created in Sara Maitland’s Virtuous Magic and brought to the stage (in an English adaptation of one of her plays as House of Desires) by Bryony Lavery.
17 April 1696
Marie de Sévigné died at Grignan in Brittany.
John Horne (later John Horne Tooke) and others seceded from the Bill of Rights Society to form the Constitutional Society.
The new society (with its paper, the Middlesex Journal) and its parent strove to outgo each other until the American Revolution overtook them both.
17 April 1774
The inaugural service was held at the first Unitarian chapel, in Essex Street, London.
The moving spirits behind the setting up of “a church of christians professedly unitarian,” were all men (including the husband of Ann Jebb) and all Anglicans, although most historians trace the origins of Unitarianism primarily to Rational Dissent and the Presbyterians, with a lesser though important contribution from Anglican Latitudinarians. The new organisation was to “hold forth the worship of the only true God, the father; the omnipotent parent and creator of the universe; to the exclusion of all other persons and objects of worship.”
17 April 1799
Humphry Davy, then a young man, inhaled nitrous oxide in order to see what it would do to him: by the following year he had discovered and tested its anaesthetic effects.
This was a largely unrecognised step in the direction of anaesthesia for surgery.
17 April 1840
Hannah Webster Foster died in Montreal, in her early eighties.
17 April 1857
Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s father died unreconciled to his daughter, which caused her great grief.
17 April 1885
Karen Dinesen (who later became Karen Blixen and wrote as Isak Dinesen) was born at Rungstedlund, near Copenhagen in Denmark; it stands on the sea, looking across the water to Sweden.
17 April 1894
Rhoda Broughton’s quasi-autobiographical novel A Beginner was published by Bentley; its serialization in Temple Bar appeared from January to June the same year.
17 April 1897
The Devil’s Disciple, a play by George Bernard Shaw set during the American Revolution, had a copyright performance at the Bijou Theatre in Bayswater, London.
17 April 1909
Thirty years after her first volume of poetry, Edith Wharton published Artemis to Actaeon and Other Verse, which contains love poems generally thought to be related to her love-affair with Morton Fullerton.
17 April 1941
After a particularly severe bombing raid Stevie Smith and her fellow workers “paddled to our offices through piles of broken glass” and past a huge crater with broken gas and water mains.
17 April 1969
The Representation of the People Act (1969) extended the vote in Britain to people aged eighteen and over.
17 April 1973
Mary Whitehouse, general secretary of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association, presented at 10 Downing Street a petition comprising over 1,350,000 signatures in favour of strengthening obscenity laws.
The Nationwide Petition for Public Decency particularly advocated amending legislation to cover language in broadcasting and to protect children from sexual education materials deemed by the group to be an affront to public decency.
17 April 1975
Iris Murdoch’s novel A Word Child was the story of a brilliant boy from a destitute working-class family.
17 April 1978
The seventeen-year-old Jackie Kay crashed her Honda 50 moped, inflicting a compound fracture of her left tibia and fibula (bones poking through the skin), necessitating four months in a full-length plaster and six more in a plastic splint.
17 Apr 2007
Adrienne Rich recast the speech with which she accepted the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters as a slim book entitled Commitment and Poetry.
17 April 2008
An exhibition on the fictional secret agent James Bond and his creator Ian Fleming (to mark the hundredth anniversary of Fleming’s birth) opened at the Imperial War Museum in London
This exhibition ran for nearly a year. Five days after its opening came another show marking the same occasion: Bond Bound: Ian Fleming and the Art of Cover Design at the Fleming Collection, also in London.