Charlotte Haldane

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Charlotte Haldane (née Franken, first married name Burghes; 27 April 1894 – 16 March 1969) was a British feminist author.[1] Her second husband was the biologist J.B.S. Haldane.


Charlotte Franken was born in Sydenham, London.[2] Her parents were Jewish immigrants, her father, Joseph, a German fur trader. In 1906 the family moved to Antwerp. She enrolled on a typing course in London. Charlotte later described herself as a "feminist and suffragette" from the age of sixteen.[1] During the First World War her parents were interned but emigrated in 1915 to the United States.

She married Jack Burghes in 1918 and they had a son, Ronnie. Charlotte joined the Daily Express as a journalist in 1920; she also became an advocate of divorce reform, married women's employment, and easier access to contraception.[2] In 1924 she interviewed the biologist J.B.S. Haldane for the Daily Express, and they soon became friends. She then had a scandalous divorce from her husband, and married Haldane in 1926.[2] In the same year, Haldane wrote a dystopian novel, Man's World, set in a world ruled by a male scientific elite who restrict the number of women born.[1] From adolescence women in this world are either made into "vocational mothers" or, if they have no interest in motherhood, they are sterilized by the government and become "neuters".[1] Man's World is sometimes compared to other dystopian novels of the interwar period, including Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and Katharine Burdekin's Swastika Night.[1][3]

Haldane's 1927 book Motherhood and Its Enemies drew some criticism for its attacks on spinsters and suffragettes for "devaluing motherhood" and causing male-female "sex antagonism." Despite Haldane's feminism, Sheila Jeffreys has called Motherhood and its Enemies "an antifeminist classic".[4]

In 1937 Charlotte joined the Communist Party of Great Britain.[2] During this time she also worked as editor of the anti-fascist magazine Woman Today.[4] During the Spanish Civil War she took part in fund-raising activities on behalf of the International Brigades, becoming honorary secretary of the Dependents Aid Committee and serving as receptionist of recruits in Paris.[5] Later she acted as a guide and interpreter to Paul Robeson when he toured the country during the war.[6] Her son, Ronny, also joined the International Brigades and was wounded in the arm, returning to Britain in the autumn of 1937.[7]

After a wartime trip to the Soviet Union, she became disillusioned with communism, which J.B.S. still believed in, writing about it in Russian Newsreel.[2] The Haldanes separated in 1942 and divorced in 1945.[2] J.B.S. later married Helen Spurway.[8]

She spent her last years writing biographies of several historical figures.[2] She died in 1969 of pneumonia.[2]


  • Man's World (1926)
  • Motherhood and Its Enemies (1927)
  • Brother to Bert (1930)
  • I Bring Not Peace (1932)
  • Youth Is A Crime (1934)
  • Melusine (1936)
  • Russian Newsreel (1941)
  • Justice Is Deaf (play)
  • Truth Will Out (autobiography, 1949)
  • Marcel Proust (1951)
  • The Shadow of a Dream (1953)
  • Age of Consent (play, 1953)
  • The Gallyslaves of Love (1957)
  • Mozart (1960)
  • Daughter of Paris (1961)
  • Tempest over Tahiti (1963)
  • The Last Great Empress of China (1965)
  • Queen of Hearts: Marguerite of Valois (1968)


  1. ^ a b c d e Elizabeth Russell, "The Loss of the Feminine Principle in Charlotte Haldane's Man's World and Katherine Burdekin's "Swastika Night" in Lucie Armitt, Where no man has gone before : women and science fiction. London Routledge, 1991. ISBN 0415044472 . (pp. 15-28)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h W. D. Rubinstein; Michael Jolles; Hilary L. Rubinstein, The Palgrave dictionary of Anglo-Jewish history. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.ISBN 1403939101 (pp. 387–388)
  3. ^ "Other dystopias of the period like Charlotte Haldane's Man's World (1926) and Katherine Burdekin's Swastika Night (1937) investigate the ways in which gender informs totalitarian regimes". David Seed, A Companion To Science Fiction. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005. ISBN 1405112182 (p. 484)
  4. ^ a b Susan Squier, "Sexual Biopolitics in Man's World; the writings of Charlotte Haldane". in Angela Ingram and Daphne Patai, (eds.) Rediscovering Forgotten Radicals: British Women Writers, 1889-1939. University of North Carolina Press, 2009 ISBN 0807844144 (pp. 137–155)
  5. ^ Sheila Tully Boyle,Andrew Bunie: "Paul Robeson: The Years of Promise and Achievement". Univ of Massachusetts Press, 2001 (p.488)
  6. ^ Haldane, Charlotte, Truth Will Out, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1949
  7. ^ Jackson, Angela, British Women and the Spanish Civil War, Routledge/Cañada Blanch, London & New York, 2002
  8. ^ "A scientist, a Marxist and a dreamer". Retrieved 27 November 2020.
Further reading

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