Born on this day in…
1515 – Teresa of Ávila (d. 1582) was a Carmelite nun, Spanish mystic, theologian, Counter-Reformation authoress, and a celebrated Roman Catholic saint. Canonized in 1622, she was also made a Doctor of the Church in 1970. During her lifetime, she was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and wrote two books on Catholic mysticism: The Interior Castle and The Way of Perfection.
1613 – Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang (d. 1688) was the consort of Hong Taiji, the second ruler of the Manchu King dynasty. Although she was never an Empress in her own right, she was recognized as a figure of political wisdom and insight. Her personal name was Bumbutai and she started as a concubine to her husband, rising through the ranks to become his consort.
1743 – Yekaterina Vorontsava-Dashkova (d. 1810) was a noblewoman and the closest female friend of Catherine the Great. In English, her name was known as Princess Dashkov. She played an active role in the Russian Enlightenment. Her friendship with the Russian Empress was fraught with quarrels, partially because she was not a fan of Catherine’s favorites (the men she took as lovers).
1895 – Ángela Ruiz Robles (d. 1975) was a Spanish teacher, writer, and inventor who is famous for her invention of the electronic book. In 1949, she received a patent for her la Enciclopedia Mecánica or “the Mechanical Encyclopedia.”
1910 – Ingrid of Sweden (d. 2000) was the Queen Consort of Denmark and wife of King Frederick IX. During her tenure as Queen of Denmark, she abolished a lot of the outdated traditions at the Danish court.
Died on this day in…
1941 – Virginia Woolf (b. 1882) was an English authoress and a celebrated modernist of the twentieth century. Ms. Woolf suffered from mental illness her entire life. She drowned herself by placing rocks in her overcoat pockets and walked into the River Ouse in Sussex. She wrote a letter to her husband before her death:
Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that—everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been. V.