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.

28 August 1775

The American invasion of Canada began.
28 August 1800

Susannah Gunning died in Down Street, London.
28 August 1814

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, novelist, short story writer and journalist, was born at Dublin.
28 August 1815

Mary Martin was born at Ballynahinch Castle in Galway, Ireland; she was an only child.
28 August 1816

The Dey or Governor of Algiers signed a peace treaty with England and Holland, one article of which decreed an end to the practice of making slaves of Christians captured in battle.
Lord Exmouth had defeated Algiers in a naval battle the previous day.
28 August 1828

Novelist Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy was born at Iasnaia Poliana, an estate (which is variously transliterated) near Tula in Russia.
28 August 1833

An act opening trade to India and tea trade to China began a new era in British commerce, ending the East India Company’s monopoly of the China trade.
28 August 1851

Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill’s article Wife Murder appeared in the Morning Chronicle under his name only.
28 August 1857

The Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act, also known as the Divorce Act, made divorce more readily available, but on unequal grounds for women and men.
The act broke from the old and very costly practice of requiring a private act of Parliament to obtain a divorce and shifted jurisdiction over divorce and separation from the ecclesiastical courts to a newly created Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes. It enshrined the sexual double standard by allowing husbands to sue for relief on the basis of adultery alone, while requiring wives to prove adultery aggravated by some other factor such as cruelty, desertion, incest, or bigamy. The new court inherited virtually unchanged the rules and principles of the ecclesiastical court. Nevertheless the number of divorces in England rose from a couple a year to hundreds, almost half of them instigated by women as petitioners.
The Act and the amendments which followed addressed some concerns about married women’s property law by ruling that a woman separated from her husband should be regarded as a feme sole with respect to property acquired while separated, and by allowing an abandoned woman to apply for an order to protect such property. These features spelled the demise of Perry and Milnes’s Married Women’s Property Bill.
The Act inspired a special paper called The Divorce News and Police Reporter.
28 August 1858

Dr Alexander Wood published a paper in the British Medical Journal on a new medical therapy involving morphine injections through a hypodermic syringe.
Wood revised the hypodermic syringe so that it was a perfect instrument for the clinical administration of morphia to neuralgia patients. Injections avoided the unpleasant side-effects caused by eating drugs, and direct entrance into the bloodstream was considered a much more effective way to provide narcotics.
Practitioners were extremely enthusiastic about this new technology and it became widely used.
28 August 1859

Poet and essayist Leigh Hunt died at Putney, London.
28 August 1859

American Edwin Laurentine Drake struck oil at the world’s first oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania.
28 August-29 November 1872

Anna Brassey and her family voyaged to North America, where they spent much of their time in Canada.
28 August 1887

The British National Vigilance Association supported the hiring of female officers to care for female prisoners.
This was in response to general anxiety about policemen providing physically close supervision of females.
28 August 1887

The first of May Sinclair’s brothers to fall ill, Harold, died of heart and kidney disease, still in his twenties.
28 August 1900

Henry Sidgwick, philosopher (and husband of Eleanor Sidgwick, Principal of Newnham College), died of cancer at his brother-in-law’s house in Terling, near Witham, Essex.
28 August 1906

John Betjeman was born at Highgate in North London, the only child of a cabinet-maker.
28 August 1907

The Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act rescinded the ban on a man’s marrying the sister of his previous wife, after her death.
It undid the prohibition instituted in Lord Lyndhurst’s Act of 1835 (removing also the ban, for a woman, of marrying a deceased husband’s brother). Such prohibitions were based on the view that relations by marriage had weight equal to those of blood relationships, so that sexual relations between those already related by marriage were seen as incestuous.
28 August 1907

The Qualification of Women (County and Borough Councils) Act and Qualification of Women (County and Town Councils) (Scotland) Act allowed women ratepayers to serve as councillors or aldermen on county or borough councils, regardless of marital status.
This Act, originally brought forward by the Women’s Local Government Society, removed the final obstacle to women’s involvement in local government. However, while women were no longer disqualified on the basis of sex or marriage from serving as councillors or aldermen on county, borough or burgh (Scotland) councils, they were not eligible to become justices of the peace, magistrates, or judges in police courts while serving as councillors.
These laws had little real effect, as the Bishop of London pointed out in the House of Lords on 5 May 1914: “It is true that women have since 1907 been made eligible for County Councils, but . . . on so narrow a qualification that very few indeed can serve.”
28 August 1914

Catharine Amy Dawson Scott wrote a letter to the Times exhorting women to mobilise to aid the war effort; this led her to found the Women’s Defence Relief Corps (WDRC).
28 August 1916

Rebecca West published her first book of literary criticism, Henry James, six months after James’s death.
28 August 1919

A return flight, with two passengers, from Paris to London weathered a 100 mile per hour hurricane.
28 August 1919

Sheila Kaye-Smith’s novel Tamarisk Town is set in a place called Marlingate, a portrayal of her home town, St Leonards-on-Sea in Sussex (tamarisk is an ornamental tree that grows particularly well on the coast).
28 August 1924

Enid Blyton married Hugh Pollock, her editor at Newnes, at Bromley Register Office.
28 August 1933

Vera Brittain published Testament of Youth: An Autobiographical Study of the Years 1900-1925.
28 August 1963

Martin Luther King gave his famous “I have a dream . . .” speech to more than 200,000 people at a peaceful Freedom March in Washington, DC.
It was the largest peaceful demonstration in Washington to date, with thousands of police and marshals attending, and 19,000 troops on standby. Four people were arrested, all black. The mixed crowd demanded full civil rights for blacks. King’s incantatory speech, full of the rhythms of black preaching, is remembered for the enunciation of his dream of an equal nation, and for the final repetitions of “Let freedom ring.” He had in fact intended to end at a point before either of these famous refrains, but when he reached his earlier peroration the singer Mahalia Jackson urged him: “Tell them your dream, Martin.”
Maya Angelou was living in Accra in Ghana at this date, and with friends she organized a synchronous midnight march on the American Embassy. As they marched they heard the news that W. E. B. Du Bois had died in Ghana. At the embassy they watched with painfully conflicted feelings as guns were trained on them and the stars and stripes raised for the morning.
28 August 1970

Muriel Box married Gerald Gardiner in the year that he ceased to be Lord Chancellor.
28 August 1982

Caryl Churchill’s critically acclaimed feminist drama Top Girls premièred at the Royal Court Theatre.
28 August 2008

In P. D. James’s next novel, The Private Patient, her series detective Adam Dalgleish finally gets married, giving the book, she said, a “valedictory tone”, since Dalgleish had come close to this in several earlier works.
28 August 2012

Eva Figes suffered heart failure and died at the age of eighty at her London home.

Reviews of Orlando

Miranda Hickman in Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature

Orlando features not only British women writers but rather a wide range of male and female writers in some way related to literature associated with the British Isles. As a modernist, I welcomed entries on American writers H. D., Djuna Barnes, and Marianne Moore (Hickman 181).

It is inspiring to see such richly collaborative work in action in the humanities, enabled and encouraged by the Orlando framework; this reads as a real example of what Vera John Steiner calls the ‘co construction of knowledge.’ . . . I soon realized that the ground breaking (I should say pathfinding) nature of the project’s set up lay in how its structure allows one to navigate such pages [individual entries] in aggregate. . . . What Orlando allows you to do, in a spirit nicely faithful to the agility implied by Woolf’s Orlando, is to choose your own adventure. . . . When one departs from the usual technique of shuttling immediately to an individual writer’s entry, one appreciates more fully the mercurial quality of the information, uniquely susceptible of rearrangement thanks to the intricate electronic encoding system. This system of electronic tagging both indicates and enables theoretical savvy (Hickman 182).

The rich corpus of information the Orlando team has managed to build in the project’s brief lifespan is nothing short of astonishing. In both theoretical and practical terms, this exciting project makes superb use of the implications of new technologies, and like Woolf’s Orlando, it points to the future. Like Woolf’s oak tree, may it flourish and ramify (Hickman 184).

Miranda Hickman. Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, 27:1 (Spring 2008), 180-86. (Available from Project MUSE).
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