10-24-1869 — 10-24-1942 Caroline Spurgeon – Born in India (place unknown). She was an English literary critic. Spurgeon was the first female university professor in London and the second in England. In 1901, she became a member of the staff at Bedford College, London. She was an expert on Chaucer and in 1929, wrote 500 Years of Chaucer criticism and allusion. Her appointment to a university chair marked a turning point in the history of women’s higher education. In 1936, she moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she died on her 73rd birthday from cerebral arteriosclerosis. After WWII, Dr. Virginia Gildersleeve moved her body to be buried alongside her long-time companion Lilian Mary Clapham at Alciston Parish Church, Alciston, United Kingdom.
10-24-1871 – 10-20-1960 Christabel Marshall (aka Christopher Marle St John) – Born in Exeter, Devon, England. She was a British campaigner for women’s suffrage, a playwright, and author. Marshall lived in a ménage à trois with the artist Clare Atwood and actress, theatre director, producer, and costume designer, Edith Craig, from 1916 until Craig’s death in 1947. According to her biographer, Katharine Cockin, Marshall wrote about living in a ménage à trois, that each of them “achieved independence within their intimate relationships… working respectively in the theatre, art, and literature, drew creative inspiration and support from each other.” She died in 1960 from heart disease.
10-24-1899 – 02-26-1982 Phyllis Reid Fenner – Born in Almond, New York. She was an American librarian, author, anthologist, and storyteller. Beginning in 1923, Fenner was a librarian at Plandome Road School in Manhasset, New York. She believed in creating environments where students wanted to come to explore books. In the Library Journal (1954) she said, “…we will do most anything in my library because I believe that if the library is really to serve, it must bring children and book together joyfully.” She was the long-term partner of artist Clara Sipprell (b. 10-31-1885) from 1937 until Sipprell’s death in 1975. Documents by and about Fenner are archived at the Williston Memorial Library at Mount Holyoke College, where she had graduated in 1921. (Photo was taken in 1921 – Fenner is second from left)
10-24-1939 – 05-29-2008 Paula Gunn Allen – Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was a native American poet, literary critic, lesbian activist, and novelist. She is of mixed European-American and Native American descent. She identified with the Laguna Pueblo culture she grew up in. In addition to her literary work, in 1968 she published a major study of the role of women in American Indian traditions. Her novel, The Woman Who Owned The Shadows (1983), features the woman Ephanie Atencio, the mixed-blood daughter of a mixed-blood mother who struggles with social exclusion and the obliteration of self. As a poet, Allen published a collection of more than 30 years of work: Life is a Fatal Disease: Collected Poems 1962-1995. It’s considered her most successful work. Allen also wrote Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat (2004), which tells the story of the beloved Indian woman from a Native American perspective. She was awarded an American Book Award by the Before Columbus Foundation, the Native American Prize for Literature, the Susan Koppelman Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas in 2001. She was a professor of English and American Indian studies at UCLA. She was openly lesbian.
10-24-1944 – 06-25-2011 Jean Harris (born Kathie Jean Harris) – Born in Long Beach, California. She was an American Democratic and LGBT rights activist. “Her legislative advocacy, grass-roots organizing, and coalition building became the bedrock for the modern LGBT justice movement in California,” said Jim Carroll, interim executive director of Equality California. Once described as “the lesbian Al Sharpton” for her colorful personality and confrontational style, Harris was unabashed about her sexuality and political goals. Harris favored men’s clothing, telling authors Karen V. Hansen and Anita Ilta Garey, that she wore ties “because I want every man who sees me to know…I’m after their power…They know right up front, I’m a dyke, I’m tough, I’m here, I want to know exactly what’s going on, and if you’ve got the power, I’m gonna try and take it from you.” She was a longtime force in San Francisco politics. In 2001 she worked to secure passage of a law to secure for same-sex domestic partners many of the rights formerly reserved for married couples. She had a number of serious health problems and died in her Palm Springs home. She was survived by her partner of 10 years, Denise Penn.
10-24-1960 BD Wong – Born in San Francisco, California. He is a Chinese-American actor. He won a Tony Award for his performance as Song Liling in M. Butterfly. He was also on Law & Order and Oz. He played Dr. Henry Wu in the first Jurassic Park film, as well as the fourth film, Jurassic World. He has also done voice-over work and acted on stage. In 2015, Wong was named Artist-in-Residence at La Jolla Playhouse. He also guest-starred on an NCIS: New Orleans episode. Wong began a long-term relationship with talent agent Richie Jackson in 1988. The couple parted in 2004. Wong donates his time and resources to a number of LGBT and arts-related charities, including the Ali Forney Center, Materials for the Arts, and Rosie’s Theater Kids. He is openly gay.
10-24-1969 Emma Donoghue – Born in Dublin, Ireland. She is an Irish-Canadian playwright, literary historian, novelist, and screenwriter. Her 2010 novel Room was adapted into a film of the same name, which Donoghue wrote the screenplay for. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. At Cambridge, she met her life partner Christine Ralston, a Canadian who is now a professor of French and Women’s Studies at the University of Western Ontario. They moved permanently to Canada in 1998. Donoghue became a Canadian citizen in 2004.
10-24-1971 Anohni Hegarty – Born in Chichester, Sussex, England. She is an English singer, composer, and visual artist, best known as the lead singer of the band Antony and the Johnsons. In 1981 Antony’s family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2005, Antony and the Johnsons released their second album, I Am a Bird Now. It was a commercial and critical success and won the Mercury Music Prize. In 2016, Antony became the second openly transgender person nominated for an Academy Award; she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, along with J. Ralph, for the song Manta Ray in the film Racing Extinction.