December 23rd People

December 23rd

12-23-1868 – 1933 or 1934 (exact date unknown) – Mary Rozet Smith – Place of birth unknown, but probably Chicago, Illinois. She mary-rozet-smithwas the companion of Jane Addams for 40 years. Smith was a philanthropist and supporter of Hull House. She was from a wealthy Chicago family, the daughter of a successful manufacturer and a Philadelphia philanthropist. Smith first came to Hull-House in 1890 as a volunteer leading a variety of children’s clubs. She became an important benefactor of the settlement house and used her connections in Chicago society to secure gifts for Hull-House. She and Jane Addams bought a house together in Bar Harbor, Maine in 1904 that they shared until Smith’s death in 1933 or 1934. The pair also vacationed together and traveled around the world, calling ahead to request a double bed, which was not unusual for women friends to do. Addams had Smith listed as an emergency contact on her passport. They also made major financial decisions together. At one point they considered adopting a child. As for the portrait painting of Smith, Addams sometimes traveled with it. Historians say that when Rozet Smith passed away, Jane received condolences from far and wide, not unlike a widow in a heterosexual relationship.

12-23-1860 – 09-26-1936   Harriet Monroe – Born in Chicago, Illinois. She was an American editor, scholar, literary critic, poet, and patron of the arts. First published in 1912, she is known as the founding publisher and long-time editor of Poetry magazine. Poets that she supported include Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, H.D., T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg, Max Michelson, and others. She played an important role in the development of modern poetry. Monroe is known to have had a relationship with writer Mary MacLane. In 1902, MacLane wrote a love poem dedicated to Monroe. At the age of 75, Monroe died in Arequipa, Peru, while on her way to climb Machu Picchu. The high altitudes triggered a cerebral hemorrhage, which caused her death.

12-23-1777 – 12-01-1825 Czar Alexander I – Emperor of Russia from 1801 – 1825. Born in St, Petersburg, he was raised by his grandmother, Catherine the Great. He came to the throne following the czar-alexander-iassassination of his father, Paul I. Alexander was crowned on September 15, 1801 in the Dormition Cathedral n the Moscow Kremlin and rumors of his homosexuality began circulating shortly thereafter. During the early part of his rule, he relied on the “Unofficial Committee,” composed of four of his young companions, for political guidance and support. He was defeated by Napoleon and forced to sign a treaty in 1807. In 1812 he came back to defeat the French. He ended his reign as a recluse. Napoleon said about Alexander I, “He was the slyest and handsomest of all the Greeks!” In that period what was called a “Greek” was what we now call  “gay.”

12-23-1888 – 06-10-1944 Christa Winsloe – She was a German-Hungarian novelist, playwright, and sculptor, best known for her play Gestern und heute (Yesterday and Today) which was made into the 1931 film Madchen in Uniform (Girls in Uniform). Winsloe wrote the screenplay and was on the set during filming. The play was the first play on lesbianism in Germany and was a commercial and critical success. Winsloe lived in Berlin where there was a lesbian sub-culture. She was open about her sexuality. Before WWII, she was involved with American newspaper reporter Dorothy Thompson, who was stationed in Berlin. In the late 1930s she moved to France, fleeing the Nazis. During WWII, she joined the French Resistance. On June 10, 1944, she and her French lover, Simone Gentet, were shot and killed by four Frenchmen. The men said that they had thought the women were Nazi spies, and were later acquitted of murder. The 1931 film, Madchen in Uniform has become an international cult classic.

12-23-1955 Dame Carol Ann Duffy – Born in Glasgow, Scotland. carol-ann-duffyShe is a Scottish poet and playwright. Duffy is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University. She was appointed Britain’s Poet Laureate in May 2009. Duffy’s the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly gay person to hold the position.

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