Orlando: Women's Writing

Scholarly Introduction

The Orlando Project

What is Orlando?

Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present is a highly dynamic and rich resource for researchers, students, and readers with an interest in literature, women's writing, or cultural history more generally. With about eight million words of text, it is full of factual, critical, and interpreted material. This first release of Orlando included biographical and writing career entries on over a thousand writers, more than eight hundred and fifty of them British women. The number is now (2013) up to nearly 1,300. The list also includes selected non-British or international women writers, and British and international men, whose writing was an important, sometimes a shaping, element in a particular writing climate. Orlando also includes more than thirty thousand dated items representing events and processes (in the accounts of these writers, but also in the areas of history, science, medicine, economics, the law, and other contexts). In all of these categories, Orlando continues to grow over time, as it is incrementally enlarged by scheduled updates.
Orlando materials are capable of a high degree of interaction. For readers who take the time to master its strategies, its capacity to search is unprecedented, capable of answering a wide range of readers' queries, from the simple request for information about a single writer to more complex questions seeking material from across the range of Orlando. Orlando's encoding (the extensive tagging which we describe below), together with its custom production (or delivery) system, makes it capable of retrieving all sorts of interpretive and qualitative material from its extensive textbase—comment of the kind you expect to find in a work of humanities scholarship—and of displaying this online.
Orlando is not a text archive: it does not print the texts its subjects wrote. Instead, it provides new biographical and critical accounts of the lives and works of its subjects, together with contextual materials relevant to critical and historical readings. Orlando is entirely textual, and its entries were researched and created collaboratively by members of the Orlando team (see Credits). It fully documents the materials it references, and it includes a bibliographical database of more than twenty-five thousand titles.