Winterfylleth (Ƿinterfylleþ) was the Anglo-Saxon name for the month of October. It marked and celebrated the beginning of winter and I love the images it conjures. I get very dark fairytale vibes and that’s what I’m rolling with for this month.
I’m looking for Gothic and Noir everything and anything!
Women of Note
1 October 1847 Annie Besant born. London-born women’s rights activist, orator, philanthropist, prolific author of over 300 books and pamphlets. Besant was an ardent supporter of both Irish and Indian self-rule. She founded Banaras Hindu University, and fought for workers’ and women’s rights and freedom of thought. Besant was arrested for publishing an American book on birth control, which cost her custody of her kids. Her friend George Bernard Shaw considered Besant to be ‘The greatest orator in England’. Her work in India is extraordinary. She was president of the Indian National Congress for a year. She became the adoptive mother of Jiddu Krishnamurti, who she claimed was the new Messiah and incarnation of Buddha (though he did not agree). It’s a lot for a mum to load on their kid.Toksvig’s Almanac
2 October 1963 Maria Ressa born. Ressa is a Filipina-American journalist, author and co-founder of Rappler, an online news service. She has spent two decades working as a lead investigative reporter in Southeast Asia for CNN, and is a pioneer in combating fake news. On 15 June 2020, a court in Manila found her guilty of cyberlibel in an act widely seen as a politically motivated attack on free speech. In April 2019, she was included in Time’s ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’.Toksvig’s Almanac
7 October 1977 Felicity Aston born. Aston is an English explorer and former Antarctica climate scientist. In 1996 she was part of the first all-female team in the Polar Challenge race across Arctic Canada, and ten years later she was part of the first all-female British expedition across the Greenland ice sheet. In 2009 she was team leader of the Kaspersky Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition where seven women skied to the South Pole. And in 2011 she became the first person to ski alone across the Antarctic landmass using only personal muscle power, and the first woman to cross the Antarctic landmass alone. It took her fifty-nine days to cover the 1,074 miles. ‘It was clear to me that the success of my expedition had not depended on physical strength or dramatic acts of bravery but on the fact that at least some progress, however small, had been made every single day. It had not been about glorious heroism but the humblest of qualities, a quality that perhaps we all too often fail to appreciate for its worth, that of perseverance.’Toksvig’s Almanac
10 October 1870 Louise Mack born. Australian poet, journalist and novelist, born in Tasmania. Mack was the first female war correspondent, reporting for the Evening News and London’s Daily Mail from the front lines during the First World War. At risk of being shot as a spy in German-occupied Antwerp she disguised herself as a mute hotel maid. She went on to publish sixteen novels and write for the Sydney Morning Herald.Toksvig’s Almanac
12 October 1904 Ding Ling born. Pen name of Jiang Bingzhi, one of the most celebrated Chinese authors of the 20th century. Born in Hunan province, she fled to Shanghai after refusing to follow tradition and marry the man chosen to be her husband. Her eventual partner, the poet Hu Yepin, was executed by the Kuomintang government in 1931. She was placed under house arrest between 1933 and 1936 for her work in the communist revolutionary cause. She criticised the Communist Party’s attitude to women and had to apologise. During the Cultural Revolution she spent five years in jail and then spent twelve years doing manual labour on a farm before being ‘rehabilitated’ in 1978. Despite this she authored more than 300 works.Toksvig’s Almanac
13 October 1862 Mary Kingsley born. English ethnographer, scientific writer and explorer of West Africa. Kingsley was another woman who got her education from her father’s library. When her parents died, she took her inheritance and set off for the west coast of Africa, which was unheard of for a single woman. She lived with local people and often travelled alone. Kingsley canoed up the Ogooué River in Gabon, collecting specimens of fish previously unknown to Western science, three of which were later named after her. She criticised Christian missionaries and their work for taking away African culture without any real benefits in return. She later toured England, giving lectures about life in Africa. Kingsley worked as a nurse in the Second Boer War, where she died of typhoid aged thirty-seven. Responded to repeated questions about travelling in Africa without a husband by answering: ‘I am looking for him.’ She never found him.Toksvig’s Almanac
14 October 1972 Zoya Akhtar born. Indian film director and screenwriter, born in Bombay. Trained in filmmaking at NYU, Akhtar is one of the few female Bollywood directors. Her films include Luck by Chance, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Dil Dhadakne Do and Gully Boy.Toksvig’s Almanac
16 October 1891 Sarah Winnemucca dies. Northern Paiute author, activist and spokesperson from Nevada. Born Thocmentony, meaning ‘Shell Flower’, in 1844. She became an advocate for the rights of Native Americans when her mother and several members of her extended family were among twenty-nine Paiutes killed in an attack by the US cavalry in 1865. After the Bannock War, Paiute people were interned in what was described as a ‘concentration camp’ in Yakima, Washington. Sarah travelled to Washington, DC, to lobby for their release.Toksvig’s Almanac
17 October 1956 Mae Jemison born. American engineer, physician and former NASA astronaut. In 1992 Jemison became the first black woman to travel into space. She took with her a photo of Bessie Coleman, the first black woman to fly an aeroplane. Jemison is also the first real astronaut to appear on the TV series Star Trek. She is now a professor-at-large at Cornell University. Only about 10 per cent of people who have travelled to space have been female. NASA officials estimated female astronauts would need ‘a makeup kit and 100 tampons for a 1-week flight.’Toksvig’s Almanac
22 (possibly 23) October 1844 Sarah Bernhardt born. Also known as ‘The Divine Sarah’. The greatest French actress of the later 19th century and still one of the best-known figures in the history of theatre. The illegitimate daughter of a Dutch courtesan and unknown father who rose to unrivalled international fame. Her voice was said to be remarkable in its beauty. She appeared throughout Europe, the US and Canada. She played several ‘trouser’ parts, including Hamlet in Paris and London in 1899. In 1915 her right leg was amputated following a stage accident. She continued on visiting soldiers at the front during the First World War, carried in a chair.Toksvig’s Almanac
23 October 1778 Kittur Chennamma born. A rani (queen) of the Nayakas of Keladi in Kittur, India. She is an Indian national heroine; one of the first female freedom fighters to resist British colonisation. She is said to have fought fiercely but was eventually imprisoned in Bailhongal Fort, where she died. Her legacy is still commemorated in Kittur, during the Kittur Utsava festival held between 22 and 24 October every year, which commemorates her victory over the British East India Company.Toksvig’s Almanac
30 October 1756 Lydia Taft becomes the first known woman to legally vote in colonial America. On this day Taft, born 1712, voted in a town meeting in the New England town of Uxbridge in Massachusetts Colony. Women were not allowed to vote in colonial America. Margaret Brent of Maryland Colony had tried to assert property rights and vote in 1647 but she was refused. Lydia’s vote was a proxy on behalf of her deceased husband and not -yet-adult son.Toksvig’s Almanac
31 October 1876 Natalie Clifford Barney born. American playwright, poet and novelist who held a celebrated salon as an expatriate in Paris for more than sixty years. She brought together writers and artists from around the world and formed a ‘Women’s Academy’ (L’Académie des Femmes) to promote women’s writing. She was openly lesbian and thought the scandal was a good way to stop unwanted heterosexual attention.Toksvig’s Almanac