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 April-16 December 1653

England and Wales were governed by the Nominated or Barebones Parliament (140 saints picked by Cromwell to replace the Rump Parliament, which he dissolved).
These saints were men chosen for “religious and moral virtues,” including a number of radicals. Cromwell’s inaugural speech to this body cited the visionary passages of the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation, beloved of sectarian women writers. Reforms to law and land ownership were high on its agenda; but it was dissolved, and power devolved again to the army.
29 April 1663

Anne Conway wrote the second of two letters from Lisburn in Ireland to Joseph Glanvill.
29 April 1690

Anne Finch’s husband was arrested, accused of plotting against William and Mary.
29 April 1764

Ann Julia Kemble (later Ann Hatton) was born at Worcester.
29 April 1771

Edmund Burke spoke in parliament in support of a bill to prevent divorced parties from marrying again.
With curious logic he argued that the two great foundations of civilised society are the indissolubility of marriage and the freedom of the female sex. Whatever freedom women enjoyed in civilized society, it seemed, was dependent on their acceptance of its being limited.
29 April 1788

Elizabeth Inchbald’s farce or comedy Animal Magnetism (advertised on 23 April, but postponed) came on at Covent Garden, accompanying Frances Brooke’s Rosina.
29 April 1800

De Monfort, Joanna Baillie’s tragedy about hatred, one of her first Plays on the Passions, had its opening at Drury Lane Theatre, London.
29 April 1802

Anna Seward wrote her first surviving letter to the young Walter Scott, with a detailed critique of his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, of which he had sent her the first volume (not the first work he had submitted to her).
29 April 1805

Maria Theresa Kemble performed the role of Lady Julia at Drury Lane in her second play, Personation; or, Fairly Taken In, a farce or comic interlude.
29 April 1813

Ghanshyam Surmono gave British District Magistrates in India instructions on the correct legislative attitude and procedure towards the practice of sati or suttee, the death by fire of a widow at her husband’s funeral.
Surmono, a member of the Nizamat Adalat, stated that the practice was based on Hindu texts and was meant to be purely voluntary. It ensured that the husband and wife remained together in the afterlife. In addition, the widow was in theory allowed to change her mind without losing caste, even after she had taken a vow to commit sati.
Magistrates were to allow sati as legal, provided that the woman was older than sixteen, not pregnant, and not in any way tricked into burning herself. They also had to produce a report on the annual incidence of sati
The police force had a very different opinion of it. For example, Walter Ewer, Superintendent of Police in the Lower Provinces, felt that sati had become a purely economic and sensational activity. The death of a widow released relatives from a financial burden, and brahmin gained money by officiating. Moreover, the community loved the spectacle of sati, and usually at the appointed time “the entire population of the village will turn out to assist in dragging her to the bank of the river, and in keeping her down on the pile.”
29 April 1829

After the death of her first husband Harriet Downing (as Harriet Camilla Downing) married Charles Martin Oliver, an upholsterer, who was then living in Alie Street, Whitechapel, but had until recently been resident in Jamacia.
29 April 1840

George Sand’s play Cosima, titled after the daughter of Franz Liszt and Marie d’Agoult, opened in Paris.
29 April 1852

Physician and polymath Peter Mark Roget published his Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases; it went through 25 editions in its first two decades, and remained an influential writing tool into the twenty-first century.
Roget (a prolific author and co-founder of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge) had spent years compiling this tool for his own use. Commentator Simon Winchester notes that Roget was almost certainly familiar with Hester Piozzi’s British Synonymy, 1794, and though almost sixty years separated the two publications, Roget began work only a decade after Piozzi published her thesaurus.
29 April 1865

Dinah Mulock married George Lillie Craik at Trinity Parish Church in Bath.
29 April 1884

Oxford University began admitting women to honours examinations for degrees, although they were still not awarded the actual degree.
29 April 1885

Edith Jones made an unfortunate marriage to the wealthy socialite Edward Wharton.
29 April 1892

George Gissing published his novel Born in Exile.
29 April 1895

Joseph Conrad published his first novel, Almayer’s Folly, about a Dutch trading post in Malaysia.
29 April 1917

Florence Farr died in Ceylon of breast cancer which had spread to her lungs.
29 April 1918

Katherine Mansfield and George Bowden were at last divorced after nine years of mostly nominal marriage.
29 April 1930

The second volume of Hardy’s autobiography (officially a biography by his widow, Florence Hardy) was published two years after the first: The Later Years of Thomas Hardy: 1892-1928.
29 April 1941

The membership of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute voted to restrict the activities of Karen Horney, because of her radical psychological ideas.
Horney, along with four other dissidents (Harmon Ephron, Sarah Kelman, Bernard Robbins, and Clara Thompson), resigned from the Institute and created the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis and the American Institute for Psychoanalysis.
29 April 1945

The concentration camp at Dachau was opened by US soldiers.
The Americans found eight and a half thousand prisoners in the main camp. Three days earlier there had been nearly 70,000 there and in the sub-camps: about one-third Jews and the rest political prisoners.
29 April 1945

German troops in Italy surrendered.
29 April 1970

Ethel Sidgwick died at several years past ninety.
29 April 1993

Deborah Moggach’s novel The Ex-Wives had for protagonist an actor called Buffy (Russell Buffery) who has been three times married and divorced when he falls besottedly in love with a much younger woman.
29 April 1997

Grace Nichols published a volume of poetry for children, Asana and the Animals,with illustrations by Sarah L. Adams.
29 April 2000

Eavan Boland read her poem Limitations when she served as a judge of the Fourth Annual Poetry Chapbook Competition at the Center for Book Arts in New York City, and it was published shortly afterwards.
29 April 2008

Githa Sowerby’s lost play The Stepmother had its North American premiere at the Shaw Festival, at Niagara on the Lake in Ontario, Canada.
29 April 2010

In her novel The Betrayal, Helen Dunmore returned, in a kind of sequel, to the surviving central characters from The Siege, to the setting of what was then Leningrad, in what was then the USSR.

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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