[Mrs.] Charlotte Despard

1844-1939 [M. C. Despard; née Charlotte French; freq. Mrs. Despard; b. Kent [var. London], dg. Captain John French, a wealthy Irishman who died young, her mother going insane afterwards; sis. of Lord French, British Army Chief of Staff in 1914 and later Viceroy in Dublin, 1920; rebelled against discipline of strict relatives and became a socialist; m. Col. Maximilian Despard in 1870; issued high-pressure Tinsley novels incl. Chaste as Ice, Pure as Snow (1874), a portrait of a wife wronged by her husband’s suspicions which exhibits psychological subtlety; also A Modern Iago (1879), on the same topic and A Voice from the Dim Millions, Being the True History of a Working Woman (1884);

moved to live among poor in Vauxhall at the death of her husband, 1890 became increasingly militant; supporter of Sinn Féin; met Ghandi, 1909; supplied her Dublin house to Maud Gonne when she herself moved to Ireland [Belfast], 1910; founded Women’s Franchise League with Hanna Sheehy Skeffington; encouraged suffragettes to boycott the 1911 census; supported the workers during the Dublin Workers' lockout of 1913; a br. was Chief of Staff of the British Army in 1914 and later Lord Lieutenant in Dublin, 1920s; toured Soviet Russia with Hanna Skeffington and turned communist; contrib. foreword to A. M. McCracken, The Feminine in Fiction (1918). SUTH

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  • Chaste as Ice, Pure as Snow: A Novel, 3 vols. (London: Samuel Tinsley1874).
  • Wandering Fires: A Novel, 3 vols. (London: Samuel Tinsley1874).
  • A Modern Iago: A Novel, 2 vols. (London: Remington & Co. 1879), I: [6],338; 2: [6], 313, [1]pp.
  • Jonas Sylvester (London: Swan Sonnenschein, Lowrey & Co 1886), [6], 200pp.
  • ed., A Voice from the Dim Millions: Being the True History of a Working-Woman (London: Griffith & Farran 1884), 128pp., ill [front. by Frederick Barnard], and Do. [another edn.] (London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Welsh 1891), 128pp.
  • Foreword to A. M. McCracken, The Feminine in Fiction (London: G. Allen & Unwin: 1918), pp. 127pp., 8o.

Reprints, Novels variously in reproduced by Microfilm (Oxford) and Microfiche (Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey - The Nineteenth Century: Women Writers).

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André Linklater, An Unhusbanded Life: Charlotte Despard, Suffragette, Socialist and Sinn Féiner (1980);Margaret Mulvihill, Charlotte Despard: A Biography [Valiant Women Ser. ([London:] Thorsons 1989), 224pp. [new edn.].

See also see also entry in Hickey & Doherty, eds., Dictionary of Irish History (1980), and Marian Broderick, ‘Wild Irish Woman: The Life and Times of Charlotte Despard’, in Irish in Britain [Seminar Series] (5 Nov. 2015), London Metropolitan, Holloway Rd., N7 8DB.

Hamming it up?: A short passage in Terry Eagleton, Heathcliff and the Great Hunger (London: Verso 1995) gives an account of her involvement with the Irish Vegetarian Society, presided over by a Mrs. Ham.

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