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.

20 January 1265

Simon de Montfort, statesman and leader of a rebellion against King Henry III (his brother-in-law), summoned an assembly, including two knights from each county and two elected representatives of each borough, to bolster support for his cause.
Though the degree of influence this early parliament had on the development of the House of Commons is debatable, it was nevertheless an important event in the history of English representative institutions.
20 January 1613

In Dublin, Lady Eleanor Davies (later Lady Eleanor Douglas) bore her daughter, Lucy Davies (later Lady Huntingdon), who was to become her tireless and most reliable supporter.
20 January 1645

Mary Ward, whose health had been failing for some time, died in a safe home outside the recently besieged city of York.
20 January 1669

Susanna Annesley (later Susanna Wesley) was born, probably at her parents’ home in Spital Yard, Bishopsgate, London; she was the youngest surviving child, traditionally said to be the twenty-fifth.
20 January 1724

Frances Seymour, Countess of Hertford, was officially appointed a Lady of the Bedchamber to Caroline, Princess of Wales.
20 January 1777

Elizabeth Griffith published her translated A Letter from Monsieur Desenfans to Mrs. Montagu.
20 January 1779

Drury Lane Theatre was dark this night as a mark of respect for David Garrick, actor-manager and playwright, who had died that morning at 5 Adelphi Terrace, London.
20 January 1793

Germaine de Staël, exiled from revolutionary France with other constitutional monarchists, arrived at the refuge she had organised: Juniper Hall near Mickleham in Surrey.
20 January 1796

Ann and Jane Taylor left their childhood home at Lavenham in Suffolk, to move with their family to Colchester in Essex, where their father became a dissenting minister.
20 January to perhaps 22 May 1798

Dorothy Wordsworth kept (with decreasing fullness) her earliest surviving journal, written at Alfoxden, the second home she had shared with her brother William.
20 January 1812

Ann Jebb died at her house in Half Moon Street, Piccadilly, London, after twenty years as an invalid.
20 January 1812

Sydney Owenson married Morgan, now Sir Charles, at the Marquess of Abercorn’s mansion of Baron’s Court, County Tyrone, Ireland.
20 January 1843

Daniel M’Naghten shot and mortally wounded the private secretary of Sir Robert Peel, the Prime Minister: his trial for murder changed British legislation on pleas of insanity.
M’Naghten owned that he had committed the crime, thinking his target was Peel himself, because he been followed, threatened, and persecuted by Tories for years.
20 January 1873

Chelsea School, first of the Girls’ Public Day School Company schools, opened.
Chelsea School moved to Kensington in 1879, and was renamed Kensington High School for Girls in 1880. Maria Grey was influential in the Girls’ Public Day School Company, and a prominent member of the council which oversaw the Chelsea School.
20 January 1873

After a brief illness, Isa Blagden died at her villa near Florence; she was buried in the English cemetery in Florence.
20 January 1885

Annie Tinsley died, in her late seventies, at Gravesend in Kent.
20 January 1900

John Ruskin, artist and writer, died from influenza.
20 January 1900

R. D. Blackmore, novelist, died at Gomer House, Doone Close, Teddington, near London.
20 January 1901

The public was shocked by the official announcement that Queen Victoria was close to death; most of her subjects could not imagine the Empire without her.
20 January 1907

Agnes Mary Clerke died at her home in South Kensington of pneumonia caused in turn by influenza.
20 January 1919

With her brothers, Edith Sitwell issued the Third Cycle of her poetry anthology, Wheels.
20 January 1920

Beatrice Webb was sworn in as a Justice of the Peace for the county of London.
20 January 1921

Mary Louisa Molesworth died at a little past eighty of heart failure, at her flat in Sloane Street in London.
20 January-1 December 1922

Agatha Christie and her husband Archie took part in a tour of the British Empire, visiting Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa.
Early 1926

Dorothy Wellesley travelled with Vita Sackville-West to Egypt and India.
20 January 1936

King George V died and Edward VIII assumed the throne; he broadcast a message to the Empire the same day from the BBC’s headquarters, Broadcasting House.
He did not, however, reign long enough to be crowned.
20 January 1940

Dorothy L. Sayers’s Begin Here: A War-Time Essay linked creativity and Christian faith.
20 January 1941

Elizabeth Bowen published the collection of short stories Look at All Those Roses.
20 January 1942

At the Wannsee Conference the Nazis decided to implement the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem: extermination camps for mass executions by gassing.
The extermination camps were located in Poland and occupied Russia. They included Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Sobibor, Maidanek, Betzec, and Chelmno.
20 January 1942

Edith Sitwell published Street Songs, her first book of poetry for ten years.
20 January 1945

The first Russian troops entered Germany.
20 January 1961

US President John F. Kennedy (the youngest ever elected, and the first Roman Catholic) delivered his inspirational inaugural address.
His peroration exhorted: “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” His whole speech concentrates not on potentially divisive domestic issues but on the international scene, pledging help and co-operation to old allies, newly free states, the third world, Latin America, and especially to the United Nations (“our last best hope in an age where instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace”). He urged the Communist bloc to join the West in “begin[ning] anew the quest for peace,” and to remember “that civility is not a sign of weakness.” The most famous line of the speech, addressed to individuals, was thus of a piece with what he said to the nation.
20 January 1980

President Jimmy Carter announced that America would boycott the Moscow Olympics in an attempt to pressure the Soviet Union, which had invaded Afghanistan at the end of 1979.
Controversy followed: although in the US the national branch of the International Olympic Committee falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government, this is not so in most nations, where the Committee is independent. In the end a total of sixty-five countries boycotted the games. In 1984 the USSR led a retaliatory boycott of the Los Angeles Olympic Games.
20 January 1983

The Joint Stock theatre company’s production of Fen, a play by Caryl Churchill about rural workers, opened at the University of Essex.

Reviews of Orlando

Lisa A. Freeman in The Scriblerian

In the second decade of the twenty-first century, the number of digital Restoration and eighteenth-century archives and databases has proliferated.  . . . . With diminishing resources for many universities, however, distinctions need to be made. Worth the investment, Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present . . . should be considered indispensable for all scholars of literary history. . . . Much to their credit, the project’s editors, Susan Brown, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy, have given great consideration to Orlando‘s macro- and micro-organizational principles. Ranging across factual, conceptual, critical and interpretive tags, their customized markup system provides in-depth information on the lives and works of women writers as well as their political, literary, economic, and cultural contexts. With the goal of creating a “comprehensive scholarly history of writing by British women,” it provides individual investigators with a productive tool for generating chronologies and “herstories” that we could only have dreamed of writing in an earlier era . . . . Fortunately, the editors here do more than most to explain their choices and to discuss the potential implications of their markup system. Thanks to their collective intellectual labors, users will have access to as many rooms of their own as they can imagine.

Lisa A. Freeman. “Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present (review)”. The Scriblerian, 44: 2, 45: 1 (Spring and Autumn 2012), 87-9.

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