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.

24 October 1648

The Treaty of Westphalia brought to an end the Thirty Years’ War, a religious conflict that had devastated Germany and eastern Europe since May 1618.
24 October 1751

Eliza Haywood proved her mastery of the new novel of social realism in The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless.
24 October 1787

Samuel and Elizabeth Meeke filed legal documents of separation, according to which Elizabeth was to be permitted to live “in such sort as if she were sole and unmarried.”
24 October 1788

Sarah Josepha Buell (later Sarah Josepha Hale), US writer, editor, and encyclopedist, was born at Newport, New Hampshire, the third of four children in her family.
24 October 1793

A play was put on at Covent Garden entitled The Ward of the Castle and ascribed to Miss Burke. Several sources ascribe this to Anne Burke, but she was a married woman, and would not have used this form.
24 October 1860

The Treaty of Peking put an end to the war between Britain and China which had begun on 8 October 1856; it also settled the border between Russia and China.
Among other things, this treaty ratified an earlier agreement for the exchange of ambassadors between Britain and China, freedom of trade, and toleration by China of Christianity. China agreed to pay outstanding war expenses.
24 October 1868

With the support of Lady Georgiana Fullerton, novelist and journalist Frances Margaret Taylor established, in rented rooms off Fleet Street, London, the religious community that would become the Congregation of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God.
Taylor, the youngest daughter of an Anglican clergyman, had volunteered in 1854 (despite being under the required age of 24) to nurse British troops in the Crimean War, travelling there with Mary Stanley, and working under the overall direction of Florence Nightingale. Taylor converted to the Roman Catholic church while in the Crimea, influenced by the Irish Sisters of Mercy with whom she worked, and the faith of the Irish Catholic soldiers she tended.
Back in England, Taylor resumed her charitable activities, turning to writing as a means of supporting her work and family. She was editor and proprietor of the Catholic Lamp, aimed at the middle and lower classes, and in 1864 was instrumental in establishing The Month. After Fullerton’s writing led to their meeting, the two women became close, with the older writer acting as a friend and mentor to Taylor. In February 1869 Taylor moved in with the religious community she and Fullerton had founded the previous year. In November 1869 she took the name Mother Mary Magdalen, and then on 12 February 1872 she “made her profession for life of the three vows of religion.” The community became the Congregation of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God on 31 October 1870, although it did not gain papal recognition until nine years later. The Congregation, established for women who could not afford dowries to join established orders, supported itself with a laundry business. It soon grew to the point where it was establishing orphanages, women’s shelters, and schools across England and Ireland, as well as a free industrial hospital, Providence Hospital, in St Helens, Lancashire. The order eventually became established in the USA, Venezuela, and Kenya. Taylor, who continued to write and edit alongside her other activities, died of diabetes on 9 June 1900.
24 October 1871

Christabel Gertrude Marshall (later Christopher St John) was born in Exeter, at 38 High Street, the youngest of nine children.
24 October 1883

The University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire opened in Cardiff; it was the first Welsh college to admit women from the start.
A female student was awarded the chief entrance award for the first session of the first year. The College obtained a charter as University College, Cardiff, in 1884. It merged in 1888 with the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology to found the University of Wales, College of Cardiff, which was amalgamated with the university colleges of Aberystwyth and Bangor to form the federal University of Wales in 1893.
A woman from Cardiff, Maria Dawson, received the first degree granted at the federal University of Wales. Women’s hostels (halls of residence) opened at Aberystwyth and Cardiff in 1885, and at Bangor in 1886.
24 October 1890

The British Astronomical Association, founded this year for amateur astronomers, held its first meeting.
24 October 1897

Francis Turner Palgrave, poet, critic, and anthologist, died.
24 October 1903

Flora Thompson’s eldest child, a daughter whom she named Winifred Grace but who became known as Diana, was born in Winton near Bournemouth.
24 October 1908

Emmeline Pankhurst advised the gaolers at Holloway Prison in London that suffragettes ought not to be treated as criminals but rather as political prisoners (who received better treatment during their incarceration).
24 October 1915

Esther Pearl Laski (later known as Marghanita Laski) was born in Manchester (not London, as some reference sources report), the eldest of six children.
24 October 1917

Four days into their marriage, W. B. Yeats’s wife Georgiana first attempted automatic writing, a process that excited her husband and inspired the occult system outlined in A Vision.
24 October 1923

Denise Levertov was born at Ilford in Essex, the younger—by nine years—of two sisters.
24 October 1929

On this day, which became known as Black Thursday, the nervous selling began which caused a catastrophic drop of values on Wall Street, and the stock market crash (also dated from the 29th) which ended the profligate speculation of the 1920s and began the Great Depression.
The Depression was marked by mass unemployment and inflation worldwide, which was not entirely alleviated until the onset of World War Two. The devastating economic effects of the crash were exacerbated for North America by five years of drought across the grain-producing regions; on the prairies, the period is known as the Dirty Thirties.
Effects in Britain were less severe, but this was because the British economy was less flourishing to begin with. The peak reached up to now by its manufacturing output was still below its level in 1913 (while that of other developed countries was up by fifty percent on pre-war levels). Unemployment in Britain had never dropped below ten percent.
24 October 1929

Virginia Woolf published A Room of One’s Own simultaneously with the Hogarth Press and with Harcourt Brace in America.
24 October 1930

Elaine Cooklin (later Elaine Feinstein) was born, an only child, in Bootle, Lancashire (that is, in an area of Liverpool).
24 October 1945

The United Nations officially came into existence with fifty-one member nations.
United Nations Day is still observed annually on 24 October. The number of members rose by 1962 to 110, and by 1979 to 152. By 2007 there were 192 member nations.
24 October 1946

King George VI opened the New Bodleian Library, Oxford, designed by Sir Giles Scott.
The foundation stone had been laid by Queen Mary in 1937.
24 October 1964

Northern Rhodesia became independent within the Commonwealth as Zambia. So, in the same year, did Nyasaland as Malawi.
24 October 1985

Ourselves Alone, Anne Devlin’s first stage play (about the impact of Irish Republicanism on the lives of three Belfast sisters) premiered at the Liverpool Playhouse Studio.
24 October 1996

Elizabeth Jennings published another poetry collection, In the Meantime.
24 October 2013

Susan Hill (already a frequent user of new media for new publications) issued a new novel, Black Sheep, in ordinary printed format.

Reviews of Orlando

Matthew Reisz in Times Higher Education

[T]he possibilities offered by “interpretive tagging,”… enable the information about an individual writer’s life and work to be searched by time, place, genre and occupation. One can look at all the authors who were nuns or librarians; who wrote agit-prop, anthems or art criticism, who had links with Scarborough or South Africa. The biographers can also be interrogated in multiple further ways. Such options enable kinds of research quite impossible in a book. But they also indirectly help generate alternatives to more “mainstream” perspectives (50).

Matthew Reisz. “In search of a good companion: Matthew Reisz weighs up the role of weighty tomes of literary reference in the digital age,” Times Higher Education, 928:1 (December – January 2009), 48-51. Digital version available from Times Higher Education online.
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