The Historical Birthday-Tea Party March 31st


The final birthday post for March, and again no specific birthday so here is a late one:

Margaret Webster March 15, 1905 – November 13, 1972

American born actor who became well known on stage in the UK before returning to the US as a highly successful Broadway stage director, noted for record breaking long runs, and for employing black actors at a time when this was still unusual. She met and started a relationship with Eva Le Gallienne, who starred in several of her productions.

In 1946, Margaret and Eva co-founded the American Repertory Theater with producer Cheryl Crawford. The relationship with Eva ended in 1948, and in 1950 Margaret became the first  woman to direct at the New York Metropolitan Opera. She worked in theatre and opera untl her death from cancer in 1972.

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The Historical Birthday-Tea Party March 30th


Birthdays seem to be scarce in this neck of the calendar, so here’s a bit of not quite history for you.

Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge. Where thou diest there will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

Ruth

I have a great fondness for the King James version of the Bible – it is great poetry – and I make no apology whatsoever, to either people offended that I’ve included what is not (in my view) a real person, nor to those who are offended that I’ve suggested someone in the bible is a Lesbian. If a woman said those words to me, I know what I’d think.

The Historical Birthday-Tea Party March 29th


louisa lumsdenNo particular birthday today so let’s celebrate

Louisa Lumsden CBE (1840-1935), the first prominent female figure at the University of St Andrews.
Louisa was one of the original students of Girton College Cambridge.  She taught classics there and later at Cheltenham. In 1877 she became Head of St Leonard’s school in St Andrews. In 1895 she was warden of a new university hall of residence,  but resigned in 1900.
Although her initial energies were put into women’s education, she was a strong proponent of women’s suffrage  In 1908 she was president of the Aberdeen Suffrage Association. She had a horse-drawn caravan, which was used for campaign tours. although never a militant herself, she admitted to fellow-feeling.

One has a mean feeling when one is quietly enjoying the good things of life and others are in prison for their convictions.

The Historical Birthday-Tea Party March 28th


Today let us raise a glass to

Jane Rule

28 March 1931 – 27 November 2007

Jane Rule was the author of many lesbian novels, and an early exponent of the happy ending, most famous for her 1964 novel Desert of the Heart (filmed as Desert Hearts), what a relief it was to find her books!

In 1954 Jane met Helen Sonthoff, a work colleague who became her life partner until Helen died in 2000.

I didn’t want to be a boy, ever, but I was outraged that his height and intelligence were graces for him and gaucheries for me.

 

Love is the terrible secret people are suspected of unless they’re married, then one always suspects they don’t.

 

The message of women’s liberation is that women can love each other and ourselves against our degrading education.

 

Coming out, all the way out, is offered more and more as the political solution to our oppression.

 
“What were we meant for then?”

“To love the whole damned world,” Ann said…

“I live in the desert of the heart,” Evelyn said quietly, “I can’t love the whole damned world.”

“Love me, Evelyn.”

“I do.”

The Historical Birthday-Tea Party March 27th


Today’s birthday cake is baked for

Maria Schneider  27 March 1952 – 3 February 2011

Maria was an actor, best known for Last Tango in Paris. She was bisexual, and once  committed herself to a psychiatric institution to be with her lover,  photographer Joan Townsend, “They locked her up, and so I had to do it out of loyalty.”

Most of the members of my generation are gay, or bisexual, they have more open minds about sexuality, about what a woman’s role can be, or what the potentials are.

Never take your clothes off for middle-aged men who claim that it’s art.

The Actual Historic Wedding-Tea Party March 29th 2014


A slight side-step here. It is now legal for same-sex couples to get married… but no one I know got married today, because, like us, all our friends are in civil partnerships (or they are not planning to get hitched in any shape or form). So I was feeling a bit grumpy about the government’s administrative cock-up that means that those of us in Civil Partnerships STILL can’t get married yet – not that we plan anything more than dramatic the most basic bureaucratic upgrade, but it’s the principle of the thing – everyone saying

lookee, you’re all equal now,

and I’m saying

not. quite. yet.

So we decided that grump notwithstanding we should celebrate, so we went along to witness Sandi & Debbie Toksvig renew their vows (yes they weren’t getting married either, same issue) at London’s Living Room, RFH South Bank.

What a lovely event: loads of singing, laughter, tears – from everyone – champagne in the bar later.

Thanks for sharing your moment Sandi and Debbie, you cheered me up, and I’m feeling less like just doing something bureaucratic when it’s our turn. Singing friends, you are on notice…

I didn’t take any pictures (too far back, it was their event etc. etc.), apart from this one…

The Man Who Caught Sandi Toksvig's Bouquet
The Man Who Caught Sandi Toksvig’s Bouquet

The Historical Birthday-Tea Party March 25th


A glass of port for today’s birthday girl:

Elizabeth Vassell Fox, Lady Holland

25th March 1771-1845

Elizabeth had an affair with Henry Fox and gave birth to his child while she was married to her first husband Godfrey Webster. She married Fox immediately following her divorce from Webster and became hostess to many Whig party soirees. She had a reputation for rudeness and domineering, yet she continued to hold parties long after her husband died, which presumably she enjoyed, and people came to, when she no longer had political influence to make them put up with her. She undoubtedly quarreled with people, notably Caroline Lamb, and it was a time for people to air their grievances in public, but equally to sing their praises.

Lady Holland has certainly organised a good system of society—ten people every day at dinner, and a few in the evening, and there is always an author for the good of one’s mind, and a doctor to prevent one’s dropping down dead, and the rest are people who know each other well, and have the same politics.

Emily Eden  May 1833

Elizabeth’s journal for 1791 to 1811 is available on-line as is her travel journal of 1802 and 1805 when she travelled to Spain. Charles Greville described her as

a social light which illuminated and adorned England, and even Europe, for half a century.

Elizabeth was also responsible for dahlias being established as a favourite flower in England, which is something she does need to be forgiven for. Never mind. My favourite quotation from Elizabeth herself:

As nobody can do more mischief to a woman than a woman, so perhaps might one reverse the maxim and say nobody can do more good

NPG D41029; Sampson and Dalilah by John Doyle, published by  Charles Etienne Pierre Motte, after  Thomas McLeanElizabeth Satirised.