Apparently, the Anglo-Saxons called January Wolfmonath (Wolf Month). According to an Anglo-Dutchman called Richard Verstegan this is because in the 1600’s January was the month you were most likely to be eaten by a wolf. I kind of love it! 😀
So for January give me wolf shifters, give me books that have a moon on the cover or in the title, give me your dog with a book, just make it lupine/canine or lupine/canine adjacent.
Women of Note
4 January 1705 Madame d’Aulnoy dies. French novelist and writer, born in 1650 or 1651, who invented the term ‘fairy tales’ although she called them ‘contes de fées’. In her real life it’s hard to tell fact from fiction. Certainly there were a lot of affairs, a good deal of intrigue and it’s possible she was also a spy.Toksvig’s Almanac
7 January 1955 Marian Anderson becomes the first African American woman to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Born in 1897, Anderson was an American singer of classical music and spirituals, and a very important figure in the struggle of black artists to overcome racial prejudice. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (the DAR) barred her from singing in Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, because they only allowed white artists. The then First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was furious. She resigned from the DAR and helped arrange for Anderson to sing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. More than 75,000 people showed up to hear her.Toksvig’s Almanac
12 January 1965 Lorraine Hansberry dies. Hansberry, born in 1930, became the first African American female author to have a play performed on Broadway, with A Raisin in the Sun in 1959. She was the first African American dramatist to win the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award. She died of cancer aged thirty-four, and inspired Nina Simone’s song ‘To Be Young, Gifted and Black’.Toksvig’s Almanac
13 January 1886 Sophie Tucker born. Tucker was a Ukrainian-born American singer, comedian, actress, radio personality, known as ‘The Last of the Red Hot Mamas’. Her hilarious act, in which her healthy sexual appetite was a recurring theme, made her one of America’s most popular entertainers during the first half of the 20th century. ‘I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.’Toksvig’s Almanac
15 January 1915 Fannie Farmer dies. American cookery expert, born in 1857. Author of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, she had a paralytic stroke as a teenager which meant she had to leave school. She was unable to walk for some years and took to cooking at her mother’s boarding house. Aged thirty, she enrolled at the Boston Cooking School. She introduced standardised level measurements in recipes. Her other thrilling book titles include Chafing Dish Possibilities, published in 1898.Toksvig’s Almanac
Update 31 December 2021: Obviously I had this post written before the Great One passed away. So Betty didn’t make it to 100 but she was damn close and she still deserves a mention and to be celebrated today. Rest easy Queen!
17 January 1922 Betty Marion White Ludden born. Happy 100th birthday to an icon. A career that spans over 90 years Betty White must be the longest ever to be in ‘The Business’. I adore Betty’s take no shit attitude “I don’t know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs, and don’t worry about other people so much” and is responsible for one of my all time favourite gifs. It works for a lot of things but a Friday evening at 5pm it’s popular on my WhatsApp. 😀
24 January 1862 Edith Wharton born. American novelist, short story writer, playwright and designer. One of my favourites. She was born at a time when women were just expected to get married and nothing else, yet she became one of America’s greatest writers, with over forty books to her credit. She was the first woman to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.Toksvig’s Almanac
27 January 1836 Begum Samru dies. Born around 1753, Samru began life as a nautch, an Indian dancing girl. She became ruler of Sardhana in Uttar Pradesh. She was just four foot eight but she led a professionally trained mercenary army of 3,000 including at least 100 European mercenaries. Said to be a brilliant leader, she wore a turban, smoked a hookah and called herself Joanna, after Joan of Arc. When she died she left a fortune equivalent to an almost unimaginable 40 billion dollars in today’s currency.Toksvig’s Almanac
28 January 1881 Hetty Reckless dies. Reckless, born in 1776, was a runaway slave who campaigned against slavery and was part of the Underground Railroad, operating a safe house in Philadelphia. She ran a women’s shelter aiming to free women from sexual exploitation, and taught prostitutes skills that might gain them employment. She lived to be 105 and deserves an entire book to herself.Toksvig’s Almanac