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.

29 May 1453

Constantinople was taken from the Christians by Sultan Mahomet (or Mehmet) II; this signalled the end of the Byzantine Empire.
29 May 1537

Pope Paul III issued a Bull that classified American Indians as men, not brutes.
The Bull states that “Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ.” Other Papal denunciations of slavery include those made by Pope Pius II on 7 October 1462, Pope Urban VIII on 2 April 1639, Pope Benedict XIV on 20 December 1741, and Pope Gregory XVI on 3 December 1839.
29 May 1580

Robert Dorset, father of the future Martha Moulsworth, died when his daughter was just two and a half.
29 May 1585

Westminster, a small settlement near London with an Abbey, acquired a civic structure under the Statute of Westminster.
Under the Statute, the settlement acquired wards, burgesses, and bylaws, one of which decreed ducking for scolds.
Between 1637 and 1640

John Evelyn, an undergraduate at Balliol College, Oxford, first saw coffee drunk (by a visiting Greek), thirty years before the custom became established.
29 May 1660

Charles II entered London as the restored king; the date became one of annual celebration for royalists.
He had been legally restored on 8 May 1660.
29 May 1697

After fifteen years as a widow Elizabeth Lloyd married as her second husband, at Bury St Edmunds, Samuel Bury, a Presbyterian minister nineteen years her junior.
29 May 1712

Elinor James published her only known verse broadside, This Day Did God . . ., which returns to the topic of Charles II.
29 May 1803

Harriet Bourne married George William Downing, a wine-merchant and freemason from Plymouth, at St Dunstan’s in the East in London.
29 May 1839

Mary Louisa Stewart (later Mary Louisa Molesworth) was born in Rotterdam (where her Scots parents were then living) into a family which eventually totalled six children.
29 May 1842

A second assassination attempt on Queen Victoria was made as she rode in her carriage; the man’s pistol misfired.
Ascension day 1851

The Anglican Community of St John the Baptist was established in Clewer, near Windsor.
29 May 1851

Sojourner Truth gave her most famous speech, now known by the catch-phrase Ar’n’t I a Woman?, at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, USA.
29 May 1855

William Granville Fullerton, only son of Georgiana Fullerton, died from a brain tumour at the age of twenty-one.
29 May 1859

Ella Baker was born in Kensington, one of at least three children.
29 May 1862

Henry Thomas Buckle, historian, died of typhoid in Damascus, Syria.
29 May 1868

The case of Routledge vs. Low led the House of Lords to expand the meaning of British Soil to include the whole British Empire under existing copyright protection laws.
The declaration referred only to British subjects, so copyright laws applying to foreign authors publishing within the Empire remained inadequate.
29 May 1896

James Connolly formed the Irish Socialist Republican Party.
29 May 1900

Constance Gore-Booth married Count Casimir Dunin Markievicz in London.
29 May 1902

W. B. Yeats and Florence Farr gave a lecture on Poetry and the Living Voice at Clifford’s Inn in Fleet Street: Yeats presented his theory of musical recitation, and then Farr illustrated by chanting a series of poems.
29 May 1905

Ivy Compton-Burnett’s closest brother, Guy, died of double pneumonia following influenza.
29 May 1905

Mina Loy’s daughter Oda died of meningitis shortly after her first birthday.
29 May 1906

Mary Louisa Molesworth released a collection of both new and reprinted work, The Wrong Envelope, and Other Stories.
29 May 1908

E. Nesbit read a paper to the new Fabian Society women’s group: invited to speak on Motherhood and Bread-Winning, she substituted The Natural Disabilities of Women.
29 May 1911

G. B. Stern’s first play (entitled For One Night Only) opened in London at the Little Theatre.
29 May 1911

London’s Little Theatre produced Inez Bensusan’s Nobody’s Sweetheart, a one-act play in which the heroine proves her courage by cross-dressing to join a rescue mission at sea.
29 May 1911

Lloyd George announced that the Government would not give full facilities to the Conciliation Bill (on suffrage) during the current session, but would do so in the next session.
29 May 1912

Pamela Hansford Johnson was born at 53 Battersea Rise, Clapham, South London, in a built-up area that had been fields when her grandfather built the house about thirty years before.
29 May 1912

Virginia Stephen agreed to marry Leonard Woolf.
29 May 1913

Violet Keppel (later Violet Trefusis) became engaged for the first time—to Gerald Wellesley, heir to the title of Duke of Wellington (who was later married to the poet Dorothy Wellesley).
29 May 1914

The Church of Ireland Gazette claimed that militant suffragettes should be deported.
In general, the church did not support women’s suffrage.
29 May 1924

May Edginton registered the copyright in a Saturday Evening Post serial called A Child in their Midst. The first episode seems to have appeared two days later, with its title beginning The instead of A.
29 May 1926

Dr Ethel Williams set out from Aberdeen to walk the more than two hundred miles to London on the Peacemakers’ Pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage, on the lines of suffrage marches, was first moved by Helen Ward and seconded by Kathleen E. Innes at a Women’s International League meeting. Many marchers set out this month in order to reach London in time, although organizers had at first hesitated to leave during the General Strike. Women setting out from Edinburgh had to wait until 13 June because the Chief Constable forbade public meetings.
Along the routes from Scotland, Wales, and all over England, marchers held meetings at which this resolution was proposed: “We, members and supporters of the Peacemakers’ Pilgrimage, believing that law should take the place of war in the settlement of international disputes, urge His Majesty’s Government to agree to settle all such disputes by conciliation or arbitration, and by taking the lead in the proposed Disarmament Conference of the League of Nations, to show that Great Britain does not intend to appeal to force.” Only one of more than a thousand meetings voted down the resolution.
29 May 1930

Vita Sackville-West published with the Hogarth Press The Edwardians, a novel about the English upper classes which drew on her inside knowledge of Knole.
29 May 1953

The summit of Mount Everest, highest mountain in the world, was first reached: by the Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and the New Zealander Edmund Hillary (who was later knighted).
In Britain there was a feeling that the successful British Everest expedition was a fitting present to Queen Elizabeth II; the news arrived just in time for her coronation. It is just possible, however, that George Mallory, who died on Everest in 1924 and whose body remained undiscovered until 1999, had reached the summit before them.
29 May to 14 June 1955

Following the Conservative victory at the polls, Britain experienced widespread labour strikes by rail, dock, and print workers.
29 May 1970

The Equal Pay Act legislated equality of treatment for both sexes in employment contracts.
The Equal Pay Act of 1970 applied only to contractual terms; if inequality arose in different situations, the law was not applicable. Employers were given five years to comply. The legislation followed a strike by Ford workers at Dagenham in Essex demanding equal pay.
In the United States an Equal Pay Act had passed Congress in 1963.
29 May 2002

The British government’s Women and Equality Unit (WEU), set up in 1997, was transferred from the Cabinet Office to the Department of Trade and Industry.
In November this year Angela Mason, who directed the gay pressure group Stonewall for ten years, was appointed as the fourth director of the WEU.

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).
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