Podcast #37: Chevalière d’Eon

Our 37th podcast episode celebrates a legendary spy, writer, and fencer whose very existence caused such a public uproar that it caused a grumpy British judge to outlaw all betting on a person’s gender. Although her story has been told many, many times before, most versions either invent her life story entirely or do not honor her own identity. Though she wanted to be recognized as the woman she was, that didn’t mean she was happy with society’s expectations of what a woman could or should wear, look like, or be around the time of the French Revolution. Mary Wollstonecraft was a fan, ranking her among the likes of Sappho and the Empress of Russia, and we think you’ll enjoy her story too.

Dead Ladies Show co-founder Florian Duijsens joins podcast host/producer Susan Stone to discuss our first episode about a woman we would now probably call a trans woman. Note that she is best known in the literature and all around the internet as the Chevalier d’Eon, Chevalière d’Eon is probably the more grammatically correct title 🙂 We also discuss the Dead Ladies Show’s famous three rules, and talk about about another unruly rulebreaker, Anne Lister.

Also available on Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast. You can find the transcript here.

Show notes:

Here she is in a portrait by Thomas Stewart.
This is the entirely fabricated anime adaptation
And this is the only slightly more French film adaptation.
Embed from Getty Images
Note her lovely medal
And here she is earlier in life.
Note the funny helmet
The caricature from which Michael Urie got his Met Gala inspiration
Freemason caricature with mysterious accoutrements
Marie Antoinette’s enormous dress
That classy portrait from 1778
Her big fencing battle with the Black composer and champion fencer Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Born in Guadeloupe, he’d fought in the first all-Black regiment in Europe!
And here she is as Athena
Here she is late in life, more religious but still wearing that medal.

And if you want to know more about the Public Universal Friend, check out these two podcast episodes by NPR’s Throughline and What’s Her Name!


Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.
Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month.

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