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.

30 April 1615

John Donne preached To the Queen at Greenwich, his earliest surviving sermon.
30 April 1695

Thomas Betterton, Elizabeth Barry, and Anne Bracegirdle gave the first performance of their breakaway Actors’ Company, premiering Congreve’s Love for Love.
They had petitioned in December against the managers (Christopher Rich and Sir Thomas Skipwith) of the United Company, now dissolved. They opened at a new theatre in Lincoln’s Inn Fields to riotous applause. Love for Love enjoyed a long run.
But the comic actor Thomas Doggett, playing Ben the sailor, ad-libbed freely in words the author never wrote, thus providing a harvest for informers for the Society for the Reformation of Manners and for Jeremy Collier’s Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage, published in April 1698. Congreve in turn replied to Collier the same year in Amendments of Mr. Collier’s false and imperfect citations.
30 April 1709

A proclamation against gambling and acting at the traditional, popular, rowdy May Fair (held annually north of Piccadilly in London) caused the event to collapse and the custom to wither.
The fair left its name to the area now known as Mayfair. The milk-women who sold their wares around the streets were some of the last in London to keep up the May-day customs of garlands, music, and dancing.
30 April 1749

A century after Mary Ward’s death, Pope Benedict XIV in the Bull Quamvis justo ensured her Institute’s survival by confirming the office of General Superior, but forbade the honouring of her as Foundress.
30 April 1758

Jane Iliffe (later Jane West) was born in London, her parents’ only child.
30 April 1759

Sarah Scott and Lady Barbara Montagu published through Samuel Richardson a set of educational cards for teaching history and geography.
30 April 1778

Mary Robinson’s comic opera The Lucky Escape opened at Drury Lane, given for her benefit at its first appearance.
30 April 1791

Ann Yearsley’s Earl Goodwin: An Historical Play reached print.
30 April 1793

Women were officially excluded from the revolutionary French army.
30 April 1800

The Morning Post published Mary Robinson’s Ode on the Spring.
30 April 1800

The authorship of Joanna Baillie’s first volume of Plays on the Passions was finally revealed.
30 April 1822

Having spent four days travelling from Pisa, Mary Shelley and her family moved into their house at Lerici, almost on the seashore; she was still there when her husband was drowned.
30 April 1827

Charles X of France disbanded the National Guard at Paris.
30 April 1875

Naomi Royde-Smith was born at Craven Edge, Halifax, Yorkshire, the eldest in a family of eight (all but two of them girls).
30 April 1875

Elizabeth Strickland died; her death followed the year after that of her sister Agnes.
30 April 1879

US woman of letters Sarah Josepha Hale died at the age of ninety; she outlived by only five months Louis Godey, the magazine proprietor with whom her career was linked.
30 April 1881

Charles Dickens’s son, who shared his name, revived the periodical Household Words.
It ran weekly until 31 March 1900. Beginning in May 1900, it was then issued monthly until July 1905.
30 April 1895

The only child of Olive Schreiner and Samuel Cronwright, a baby girl weighing 9 lb 9 oz., died sixteen hours after her birth.
30 April 1907

A great-grand-daughter of children’s writer Mary Ann Kilner inscribed a copy of Mary Ann’s Memoirs of a Peg-Top, published around 1785, as a gift to her own grandson Anthony Crookham.
30 April 1914

Lady Dorothy Ashton married Gerald Wellesley, who in 1943 succeeded to a title as seventh Duke of Wellington.
30 April 1914

Katharine Tynan travelled to Rome at the invitation of Lady Aberdeen, who was attending, as president, the “Quinquennial Meeting of the International Congress of Women.”
30 April 1919

The first air-worthiness and plane registration requirements in the world were issued in Great Britain.
After this civil aviation in Britain steadily gained popularity.
30 April 1919

Ella Williams (later Jean Rhys) married her first husband, Willem Johan Marie Lenglet, in The Hague.
30 April 1920

General Secretary Bowen of the United Postal Workers wrote in The Post that “whatever we get for women now, on the grounds of equality, will be at the expense of men.”
This exemplifies the widespread resistance to equal rights and equal pay.
30 April 1936

A. E. Housman, poet and classical scholar, died of myocarditis in the Evelyn Nursing Home, Trumpington Road, Cambridge.
30 April 1943

Edith Sitwell published A Poet’s Notebook, a highly personal anthology which provides a sampling from her favourite and shaping authors.
30 April 1943

Beatrice Webb died at the age of eighty-seven, of kidney failure, at her house, Passfield Corner in Hampshire.
30 April 1945

Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide as Russian troops captured the Reichstag in Berlin.
Hitler and Braun had married the day before. The following day Goebbels committed suicide. His wife also killed herself, after poisoning their six children. The two-week Battle of Berlin cost the Russians over 300,000 casualties; they took 480,000 German prisoners-of-war.
Invading Russian soldiers are estimated to have raped at least two million German women, close to 100,000 in greater Berlin. Many women were gang-raped and some murdered or mutilated; thousands died, mostly by suicide. Historian Antony Beevor traces three phases of rape, from the extreme of cruelty and sadism, through a more matter-of-fact stage, to that in which starving women sold their bodies for food. Yet it was a woman, Major Anna Nikulina, who at length, in early May, raised the red flag over the Reichstag.
30 April 1947

Anna Wickham hanged herself at her house on Parliament Hill in Hampstead.
30 April 1948

The Organization of American States (OAS) was established with the aims of promoting peace, security, and economic and social development.
It did not come into effect until 13 December 1951. It has been primarily an instrument of US policy in South America.
30 April 1952

Mildred Cable died at 13 Buckingham Mansions, West End Lane, London; she was the first of the Trio to die, although she was the youngest.
30 April 1970

Mary Renault had a hysterectomy, and the doctors discovered and removed a cancerous tumour.
30 April 1971

A Public Debate on Women’s Liberation was held at the Town Hall, New York, between Norman Mailer on one hand, and on the other Jacqueline Ceballos, Germaine Greer, Jill Johnston, and Diana Trilling.
The background was Mailer’s general misogyny and specific crossing of swords with Kate Millett, who had attacked him in Sexual Politics, and Greer’s visit to the USA to promote her book The Female Eunuch. Millett (like Gloria Steinem) had declined to debate, but had suggested the lesbian Johnston to take her place. Mailer referred to the others as ladies throughout, a point on which he was challenged from the floor by Susan Sontag. (Another who scored a palpable hit from the floor was Cynthia Ozick.) Greer spoke of the privilege accorded the male artist, and looked forward to the future creativity of women artists who would have “no ego and no name.”
Johnston stole the evening with a contribution that began: “All women are lesbians except those who don’t know it.” She overran her time, and a near-brawl developed as women in the audience jumped up to embrace her. Then Johnston and friends left early, while Mailer lost his temper and resorted to bullying. He agreed, however, with Greer’s proposition that men suffer too, “debauched by their own tyranny and degraded by it and confused by it almost as much as the people they tyrannised over.”
30 April 1975

The fall of Saigon to the Communists provided a postscript to the war in Vietnam. The last US troops left now, two years after the cease-fire and their official withdrawal.
North and South Vietnam, opponents during the war, were reunited in 1976 as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Hanoi (previous capital of the North) was named capital of the whole. Saigon was re-named Ho Chi Minh City. Britain agreed to take a number of Vietnamese refugees, who were not allowed to choose their place of settlement, but were dispersed around the country.
30 April 1987

Anna Adams published her poetry volume Six Legs Good.
30 April 1987

Margaret Drabble published The Radiant Way, first of a trilogy of novels.
April 1998

Sarah Kane’s next play, Cleansed, opened at London’s Royal Court Theatre Downstairs (that is, the main auditorium). It was printed the same year.
30 April 1999

Anna Livia published Bruised Fruit: A Novel.
30 April 2001

Catherine Byron had another autobiographical essay printed: An Appetite for Fasting? in My Self, My Muse: Irish Women Poets Reflect on Life and Art, edited by Patricia Boyle Haberstroh.
30 April-31 August 2003

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery featured Maud Sulter’s exhibition entitled Jeanne Duval: a Melodrama, and published at Edinburgh her related text bearing the same title.
30 April 2009

Hilary Mantel’s next novel, Wolf Hall, appeared, fictionalising part of the life of the sixteenth-century lawyer and politician Thomas Cromwell. It was later picked as winner of this year’s Man Booker Prize.

Reviews of Orlando

James L. Harner in Literary Research Guide

Because of the ways in which the extensive data can be mined or formulated, Orlando offers the best access to information on British women writers and serves as a model for similar databases that will supplant printed literary dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks (187).

James L. Harner. Literary Research Guide: An Annotated Listing of Reference Sources in English Literary Studies, 5th ed. New York: MLA, 2008.
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