Charlotte Franken was born in Sydenham, London. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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". 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.
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".
In 1937 Charlotte joined the Communist Party of Great Britain. During this time she also worked as editor of the anti-fascist magazine Woman Today. During the Spanish Civil War she took part on the International Brigades, becoming honorary secretary of the Dependents Aid Committee and serving as receptionist of recruits in Paris. Later she acted as a guide and interpreter to Paul Robeson when he toured the country during the war.
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. The Haldanes separated in 1942 and divorced in 1945. J.B.S. later married Helen Spurway.
- 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)
- 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)
- W D Rubinstein; Michael Jolles; Hilary L Rubinstein, The Palgrave dictionary of Anglo-Jewish history. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.ISBN 1403939101 (pp. 387–388)
- "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)
- 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)
- Sheila Tully Boyle,Andrew Bunie: "Paul Robeson: The Years of Promise and Achievement". Univ of Massachusetts Press, 2001 (p.488)
- Haldane, Charlotte, Truth Will Out, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1949
- Charlotte Haldane: woman writer in a man's world by Judith Adamson ISBN 0-333-66973-8 (review) at the Wayback Machine (archived 8 September 2003)