We haven’t had a birthday in a while, so happy birthday, Frances (Fanny) Burney! Fanny, a novelist, diarist, and playwright was born in Lynn Regis (now King’s Lynn) on 13 June 1752 to a musical historian and his wife, Esther. Fanny was the third of six children and was self-educated, though her sisters, both of whom were favored by their father, were given expensive educations … Continue reading Happy Birthday, Fanny Burney!
Today is the four-hundred-sixty-third anniversary of the birth of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, courtier, poet, and, according to some, the actual author of Shakespeare’s plays. Even the ones performed after his death. He must have been a very literary ghost. De Vere was born on 12 April 1550 at his family’s ancestral pile, Hedingham Castle. His family could trace their roots back to … Continue reading A Gentleman and a Poet
Once again, it’s been a while since we celebrated a birthday here on the Armchair Anglophile, so let’s light a candle for one of the greatest British poets: William Wordsworth, who was born 7 April 1770 at Wordsworth House in Cockermouth, Cumberland. Little William received a thorough grounding in the great poets from an early age and was given the run of his father’s library. … Continue reading Wordsworth, Wordsmith
On 12 August 1762, in a room in St. James’s Palace, George Augustus Frederick, the first child of King George III and Queen Charlotte was born. And boy, did his parents learn to rue that day. George, who was created Prince of Wales a few days after his birth, didn’t start off too badly–he was said to be a good student who mastered languages early, … Continue reading Georgy Boy
On 30 July 1818, Emily Bronte, future novelist and poet, came into the world in Thornton, in Yorkshire. She was the fifth of six children born to Maria Branwell and Patrick Bronte; her siblings included Charlotte, Patrick Branwell, and Anne, all of whom made their literary marks on the world before their untimely deaths. The Bronte siblings grew up in Haworth, where their father was … Continue reading Happy Birthday, Emily Bronte
On March 6, 1806, at Coxhoe Hall in County Durham, England, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, one of the Victorian era’s most celebrated poets, took her first breaths. The eldest child of a wealthy family, she was mostly raised at a 500-acre estate called Hope End in Ledbury, Hertfordshire, which would later inspire her work Aurora Leigh. Elizabeth was a studious, precocious child who was already studying … Continue reading The Lady Poet
Happy birthday to Alexander Graham Bell, the Scottish-born inventor who gave us the first practical telephone. Bell was born in Edinburgh in 1847 at the family home at 16 South Charlotte Street. Bell was a naturally curious child who started experimenting at an early age. At the age of 12, he created a small machine to dehusk wheat as a favor for his best friend, … Continue reading Ring a Bell?
Happy birthday to actress, author, and activist Fanny Kemble! This star of the British stage and slavery opponent was born November 27, 1809 into the famous Kemble theatrical family. Fanny was the daughter of actor Charles Kemble and the niece of Sarah Siddons and John Philip Kemble. Her younger sister became an opera singer. Fanny, however, was a gifted thespian who first appeared on stage … Continue reading Triple Threat
How’s this for a tough gift to beat: on November 9, 1907, King Edward VII received the Cullinan diamond, the largest rough gem-quality diamond ever found, as a present for his 66th birthday. The diamond was found by a miner named Thomas Evan Powell in Cullinan, South Africa in January 1905. It was purchased by the Transvaal government, which presented it to King Edward. He, … Continue reading Best Birthday Gift Ever
At last, I get to pay homage to one of my favorite writers: Happy birthday, P.G. Wodehouse! Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, the man who would bring us such memorable characters as Jeeves, Bertie Wooster, and the eccentric residents of Blandings Castle, was born on October 15, 1881. Wodehouse was the son of Eleanor and Henry Ernest Wodehouse, both members of the Norfolk landed gentry. Henry was … Continue reading The Wodehouse Legacy