born on December 3, 1764 in London
died May 28, 1847 in Edmonton
175th death anniversary on May 28, 2022
Mary Lamb's family was very poor, her childhood decidedly unhappy. Mary learned only a little reading, writing and arithmetic; her lack of schooling always remained a problem for her. Her mother favored her older brother John in everything.
Mary was shy, taciturn, hyper-sensitive, and prone to mental disorders even as a child.
Mary is ten years old when her brother Charles is born. She takes care of him with devotion. Now she finally has a task that goes beyond kitchen chores. A strong bond develops between Mary and Charles that will define both of their lives. After Mary stabs her mother to death in mental derangement at the age of 31, she is to be interned for life, but Charles takes on a personal guarantee for her and is thus able to prevent her psychiatric treatment. The two move in together and begin their life of "twofold singlehood," described by contemporaries as very happy, although Mary's illness always flares up.
They often go to the theater, have many friends,…read more
This biography is not yet available in English.
You can find the German version here.
born May 26, 1867 in London
died March 24, 1953 in London
Queen of Great Britain and Ireland
155th birthday on May 26, 2022
Queen Mary, the grandmother of British Queen Elizabeth II and mother of the Duke of Windsor and King George VI, was a dedicated queen. Unlike almost all members of the royal family, she had more than a polite interest in social and artistic matters.
Born the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Teck, May (as she was known) was very shy throughout her life, but this never prevented her from "doing what had to be done."
When her parents could no longer afford the expensive lifestyle in London, the whole family went to Florence for two years in 1884. Here the foundation was laid for May's strong artistic interest and her openness to the world.
Mary, who was almost 20 years old, feared that she was not educated enough. Her governess, the well-read, cosmopolitan and pedagogically gifted Madame Bricka, drew up a work program: six hours a day - Mary kept to it until her wedding eight years later.
At the side of her husband, King George V, Mary was crowned queen on June 22,…read more
born on 23 May 1842 in Suwałki
died on October 8, 1910 in Lwow (Lemberg)
Polish poet and writer
180th birthday on May 23, 2022
The popular poet Maria Konopnicka was the most popular and most discussed Polish author of her time in the literary world. She grew up as the eldest of six siblings in a family of prosecutors. The early death of her mother shadowed her childhood. Raised in strict discipline, she was married by her father at a very young age to Jan Konopnicki, the tenant of the Bronow estate. The convents marriage with the 12 years older deceased man shocked Maria's sensitive nature. Only after 16 years she gathers all her courage, leaves Jan and moves to Warsaw with six children. This act is the beginning of her literary career.
Well acquainted with the conditions in the countryside, Konopnicka places exploitation, poverty and hunger of peasant families at the center of her poetry (The Free Wage Worker, Homeless, 1878). In the novellas she takes up political issues, for example, condemning the persecution of Jews by the tsardom and Prussian acts of violence in the struggle for land (Danziger…read more
Born May 23, 1892 in Stuttgart
died on April 26, 1976 in Bielefeld
German-Czech textile artist
130th birthday on May 23, 2022
First highly praised, then forgotten, finally misinterpreted and, more recently, controversially discussed because of two, long unknown carpets with Nazi insignia. - The reception history of Bauhaus-, Burg-, and Bethel artist Benita Koch-Otte reflects two well-known desiderata: On the one hand, research on the female half of the art school is still incomplete more than 80 years after the Bauhaus closed. Even for exposed female artists such as Koch-Otte, a relevant catalog of works is lacking. On the other hand, in the discussion about avant-garde artists who carried out Nazi-serving tasks after 1933, a profound revision of widespread Bauhaus myths is more than overdue.
"Obsessed with weaving": student in Weimar.
Eastern 1920, at the age of 27, Benita Koch-Otte* enrolled as a student at the Bauhaus in Weimar; "incomprehensibly stupid" (cited in Schenk zu Schweinsberg, 2012, p. 43) was how her father Rudolf Otte, a chemist with a doctorate, called this step: his self-critical…read more
born on May 29, 1892 in Sala Capriasca/Ticino
died on October 25, 1938 in Mar del Plata/Argentina
130th birthday on May 29, 2022
„Me faltaba un amor, y ya lo tuve una infamia tambien, y di con ella …”
"I lacked a love, I got it and a betrayal, he did not spare me ..."
On the homepage of Sala Capriasca in Ticino, where she was born in 1892, the name Alfonsina Storni appears under the heading "Personalities"; in Mar del Plata, Argentina, where she threw herself into the sea and drowned in 1938 at the age of 46, there is a large stone memorial to the poetess. Between the two dates lies a tragic life, the life of a highly gifted and highly sensitive woman who today would be called a feminist, but at the time was deeply wounded by the restrictions imposed on women by Latin America's male-dominated society.
Alfonsina is the third child of the Swiss couple Paulina Martignoni and Alfonso Storni. When Alfonsina is four years old, the family goes back to San Juan in Argentina, where the father had already built up a brewery with his three brothers in earlier years. The Stornis, initially wealthy and…read more
born May 27, 1907 in Springdale, Pennsylvania
d. April 14, 1964 in Silver Spring, Maryland
U.S. writer, marine biologist and ecologist, "mother of the environmental movement"
115th birthday on May 27, 2022
"The power of her knowledge and the beauty of her language made her one of the most influential women of our time," wrote the New York Times when Rachel Carson died of cancer in 1964, a year and a half after her revolutionary book Silent Spring was published.
Rachel Carson grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania. She wanted to be a writer at the age of ten, but later studied biology. In the midst of the Depression, her father and sister died in the course of a year. Carson gave up further professional training to earn money for herself, her mother and her two motherless nieces. For 14 years she worked for the government Fish and Wildlife Service, most recently as editor-in-chief of its publications program.
In 1951, Carson published The Sea Around Us, which remained on the New York Times bestseller list for almost two years without interruption and was translated into more than 30 languages. Now she could devote herself full time to writing. One of her nieces died, and Rachel…read more
born on 5 October 1641 in Tonnay-Charente
died on 27 May 1707 in Bourbon l'Archambault
Mistress of Louis XIV
315th death anniversary on 27 May 2022
The numerous mistresses of Louis XIV, the French Sun King, added special splendor to his magnificent court. Their careers depended on beauty, wit, and often sophisticated intrigue. There was a kind of hierarchy of mistresses from the highest (maîtresse en titre) to those only temporarily distinguished by the king's favor, the "mayflies," as Madame de Sévigné, the most famous letter writer of the time, derisively called them. Influence, regular financial allowances, lavish gifts, and the retirement pensions that the king provided for his mistresses depended on their rank, which was determined by protocol.
The young king's mistress from 1661-1669 was Louise de la Vallière, a rather unassuming, shy blonde who was devoted to the king with selfless love. She was succeeded by the Marquise de Montespan, the second maîtresse en titre, who pursued her intention to win over the king with all the means of feminine seduction and mischievous intrigues against rivals. Because she was…read more
Liselotte v. d. Pfalz (Elisabeth Charlotte of Orléans)
born on May 27, 1652 in Heidelberg
died December 8, 1722 in Saint Cloud
German-French author of correspondences; sister-in-law of Louis XIV. of France
For years the letters of Liselotte von der Pfalz have held a place of honor on the bookshelves of upper middle-class German families. Her drastic style and critical assessments, but also her genuine empathy for persons she loved make for pure reading pleasure to this day and moreover are an inexhaustible resource for the study of her time.
Liselotte von der Pfalz, daughter of the Palatinate Prince Elector Karl Ludwig and his first wife Charlotte von Hessen-Kassel, was a lively, unruly child, happy and impudent, with a penchant for for practical jokes. In order to protect her from family arguments about his mistress Karl Ludwig sent his seven-year-old daughter to live with his sister Sophie of Hanover. There she experienced the happiest years of her life and was exposed to intellectual stimuli that awakened a lifelong thirst for knowledge and passion for reading. "I never had no better time than in Hanover," she recalled fifty years later. Back in the Palatinate after four…read more
Danish actress, writer, director, and artist; star of silent film
born September 11, 1881 in Copenhagen
died May 25, 1972 in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen
"Asta Nielsen is the only female artist in film who can be considered outright as a genius and whose artistic achievements have the unforced quality of natural events. Everyone who has ever enjoyed the pleasure of her friendship knows that she, like all the other real greats in the world of art, is also a significant human being whose exceptional sense of humor and deep wisdom about life are without parallel."
That is what one of her closest friends, actor and director Paul Wegener, had to say about the Danish-born star of silent film, who elevated the genre from a carnival show to an art form and who dominated it in Germany from start to finish. Asta Nielsen proves her superior sense of humor and wisdom on every page of her exquisite memoirs, published in 1946, The Silent Muse (Den tiende Muse in the original – an untranslatable play on words: tiende means both "silent" and "tenth"). Barbara Beuys, who presented a thoroughly researched biography of Asta Nielsen in 2020,…read more
born on April 7, 1907 in Arras
died May 28, 1972 in Faucon
50th anniversary of death on May 28, 2022
Hardly any other writer has described her sexual longings and humiliations with such unsparing candor as Violette Leduc. In an idiosyncratic mixture of lyrical passages of baroque imagery and meticulously realistic descriptions, she laid bare the abysses of her nature - the restless (and almost always futile) search for sexual fulfillment, the inability to love as an equal, her pursuit of money and luxury, the suffering of her ugliness, the lifelong feeling of a profound loneliness.
The illegitimate daughter of a servant girl, never recognized by her father - a wealthy bourgeois from Arras - Leduc grew up in poor circumstances. She had her first violent sexual relationship with a fellow student at boarding school (described in Therese and Isabelle) - and was expelled from school. She then lived with a young woman music teacher for nine years. During the war, she wrote for various women's magazines and fashion houses. In her love life, one drama followed another - years of…read more
This biography is not yet available in English.
You can find the German version here.