“A long poem (1997) by John Dryden (1631-1700). The annus mirabilis (wonderful year) was 1666, the year of the Fire of London and of continuing war with the Dutch. Queen Elizabeth II alluded to the phrase in a speech at the Guildhall, London, when she referred to 1992 and ‘annus horribilis’ (a coinage that had been suggested to her by a ‘sympathetic correspondent’); this was the year when fire caused extensive damage to the royal residence at Windsor Castle, Princess Anne was divorced, and the Duke of York separated from the Duchess of York, topless photos of whom appeared in the tabloids.”
Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.