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Charke, Charlotte (1713-1760)  
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In addition to the Narrative, Charke wrote three plays, The Carnival (1735), The Art of Management, or Tragedy Expell'd (1735), and Tit for Tat, or Comedy and Tragedy at War (1743), as well as four works of fiction, The History of Charles and Patty (no date), The Mercer; or Fatal Extravagance (1755), The History of Henry Dumont, Esq. and Miss Charlotte Evelyn (1756), and The Lover's Treat; or Unnatural Hatred (1758).

The work of Charke's fiction that has received the most attention is Henry Dumont, which includes a homosexual character, Billy Loveman. Loveman writes a letter declaring his love for the title character, Henry. When the two meet, Loveman, dressed in women's clothing, ardently kisses Henry, whereupon Henry and two of his friends beat him. A mob then gathers and dunks Loveman in a fish pond, a punishment usually given to women.

Interpretation of Charke's treatment of Loveman varies widely. Robert Rehder declares the scene with Loveman "entirely gratuitous." Erin Mackie believes that Charke included it to distance herself from "transvestism, homosexuality, and marital travesty . . . those very violations on which her own life bordered so closely."

Kristina Straub finds the novel "viciously ." Polly S. Fields, on the other hand, feels that Charke, whose "own life bore similarity to Loveman's" was sympathetic to the character and that the novel is "a graphic depiction of society's hypocritical treatment of homosexuals." Charke herself left no commentary on her motivation for including the scene.

Confusion over the reading of the episode mirrors the variety of views on Charke's sexual orientation and its relation to her cross-dressing.

Linda Rapp

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Baruth, Philip E. Introducing Charlotte Charke. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999.

Charke, Charlotte. A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Charlotte Charke [1755]. Robert Rehder, ed. London: Pickering & Chatto, 1999.

De Ritter, Jones. "'Not the Person She Conceived Me': The Public Identities of Charlottte Charke." Sexual Artifice. Ann Kibbey, Kayann Short, and Abouali Farmanfarmaian, eds. New York: New York University Press, 1994. 3-25.

Fields, Polly S. "Charlotte Charke and the Liminality of Bi-Genderings: A Study of Her Canonical Works." Pilgrimage for Love: Essays in Early Modern Literature in Honor of Josephine A. Roberts. Sigrid King, ed. Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1999. 221-248.

Lilley, Kate. "Charke, Charlotte." Who's Who in Gay & Lesbian History from Antiquity to World War II. Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon, eds. London and New York: Routledge, 2001. 95-96.

Mackie, Erin. "Desperate Measures: The Narratives of the Life of Mrs. Charlotte Charke." ELH 58.4 (Winter 1991): 841-865.

Morgan, Fidelis. The Well-Known Trouble-Maker. London and Boston: Faber and Faber, 1988.

Rogers, Pat. "The Breeches Part." Sexuality in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Paul-Gabriel Boucé, ed. Manchester: Manchester University Press; Totowa, N. J.: Barnes & Noble Books, 1982. 244-258.

Vicinus, Martha. "'They Wonder to Which Sex I Belong': The Historical Roots of the Modern Lesbian Identity." Feminist Studies 18.3 (Fall 1992): 467-495.

Wahl, Elizabeth. "Charke, Charlotte." Lesbian Histories and Cultures. Bonnie Zimmerman, ed. New York: Garland, 2000. 156-157.


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Charke, Charlotte  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated November 3, 2007  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


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