On this day in history….17th November 1558

On this day in history : 17th November 1558 – Mary Tudor, England’s first ruling Queen, dies – leaving the Crown to Elizabeth I, her half-sister….

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Mary Tudor, 1554 – Antonis Mor – Public domain

Mary’s death was unexpected; she had started to feel unwell in May 1588, after another false pregnancy…. At the time of her death there was an influenza epidemic and it is often thought that she died from this…. But it is more likely the cause of her death was a form of ovarian cancer…. She died at St. James’ Palace – having received her last rites just before midnight on the 16th of November; she passed away at some time between 5am and 6am the following morning…. She was 42-years-old….

Mary was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon – she was declared illegitimate after Henry married Anne Boleyn and the birth of their daughter, Elizabeth…. Even though her father had reformed the English Church, Mary – baptised a Catholic at 3-days-old – retained her faith…. When on ascending the the throne in 1553, she immediately set about reversing the English Reformation and returning England to Catholicism- reviving old heresy laws in order to do so…. During her short reign Queen Mary I was responsible for the death of some 300 Protestant men, women and children – many burned at the stake – earning her the title ‘Bloody Mary’….

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The burning of of Latimer and Ridley, two of the Oxford Martyrs – From the Book of Martyrs by John Foxe, 1563 – Public domain

She was not a popular Queen – there would have undoubtedly been much jubilation when her half-sister Elizabeth took over the throne…. Something Mary had vehemently tried to prevent by unsuccessfully producing an heir of her own….

Mary is buried in Westminster Abbey – ironically under Elizabeth I – in a shared grave….

On this day in history….16th November 1928

On this day in history : 16th November 1928 – Marguerite Radclyffe Hall, English author and poet, attends trial at Bow Street Court – at which her book ‘The Well of Loneliness’ is banned for obscenity….

NPG x136620; Radclyffe Hall by Unknown photographer
Marguerite Radclyffe Hall – unknown photographer, public domain

The book is the only one of Hall’s eight novels to have a lesbian theme – Hall was a lesbian herself…. The book was not sexually explicit – a kiss on the lips was as racy as it got – but it covered an extremely taboo subject at the time…. Those in high places (and that included the Government) decided they did not like the ‘unnatural offences’ portrayed in the book….and so took the measures to prosecute…. They gathered ‘evidence’ from senior doctors to determine that ‘The Well of Loneliness’ would encourage female homosexuality….

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James Douglas’s editorial in the Sunday Express, 19th of August 1928 – Fair use

On the day of the trial the court room was crowded…. Magistrate Sir Chartres Biron ruled the book to be obscene and that all copies were to be destroyed…. On leaving court, Hall was heard saying to friends “Believe me, the end is only the beginning”….

‘The Well of Loneliness’ was finally released in 1949 – six years after the death in October 1943 of Marguerite Radclyffe Hall – and has been by far her most successful novel….

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Fair use

On this day in history….15th November 1977

On this day in history : 15th November 1977 – Princess Anne gives birth to a son….the first royal baby in more than 500 years to be born a commoner….

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Princess Anne and baby Peter – via Pinterest

Master Peter Mark Andrew Phillips arrived in the World at 10.46 am in St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington – less than 6 hours after Princess Anne was driven there by her husband, Captain Mark Phillips…. Their new son weighed a healthy 7lb, 9oz – and a 41-gun salute was fired from the Tower of London to celebrate and welcome the new royal baby….

In 1981 Zara was born, a sister for Peter…. Although Princess Anne is the Queen’s daughter she has no hereditary title – meaning Peter and Zara are the Queen’s only untitled grandchildren…. Reputedly Princess Anne and Capt. Mark Phillips declined an offer of a title from the Queen – which would have meant their children would receive a peerage….

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The Christening of Zara Phillips, 1981 – via Pinterest

Princess Anne and Capt. Mark Phillips divorced in 1992…. Princess Anne married Commander Timothy Laurence later the same year…. Mark Phillips remarried in 1997 and had another child, a daughter – his third, as he had also fathered one other whilst married to Princess Anne….

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Princess Anne and her children – via Pinterest

On this day in history….14th November 1952

On this day in history : 14th November 1952 – Britain’s first music chart is published in the New Musical Express; the No.1 position is taken by American crooner Al Martino….

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Al Martino, 1952 – General Artists Corporation (Management) : Photographer, ‘Bruno of Hollywood’ aka Bruno Bernard – Public domain

“Here in my heart” by Martino stayed at No.1 for nine consecutive weeks….

The United States had been compiling a weekly chart based on record sales since 1940 – but Britain still measured a song’s popularity by sales of sheet music….

One of the founders of the NME, Percy Dickinson, decided to compile a list of the week’s best-selling singles…. He did so by telephoning twenty different record stores around the country each week – to determine the top 12 singles the British public were buying….

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BBS Record Company – Public domain

On this day in history….13th November 1964

On this day in history : 13th November 1964 – The Royal Shakespeare Company performs Hamlet in Rome, to an audience which includes the Pope – who almost causes a diplomatic embarrassment….

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Pope VI in 1963 – Image : Vatican City – Public domain

The RSC owns a copy of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays…. Printed in 1623 only 233 copies remain, many of which are incomplete…. It is one of the most valuable books in the World…. The RSC’s edition was carefully packaged and the Company carried it with them to Rome for Pope Paul VI to bless at the end of a performance of Hamlet – which was being held at the Palazzo Pio to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth….

The book was presented to the Pope and he looked through some of the pages….before graciously accepting the ‘gift’ for the Vatican Library…. Without a doubt some diplomacy and tact had to be rapidly deployed…. The 400 year old copy of the Bard’s work is now kept safely at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon….

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The First Folio – Folger Shakespeare library, Washington DC – Image : Daderot CC BY-SA