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Project Charlotte

Charlotte Turner Smith

For many reasons, I’ve never liked my full name. But recently I’ve been looking to feel a bit more comfortable with it and that has been bolstered by historical figures I’ve discovered. Brontë, of course, but also Perkins Gilman and, literature aside, Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. I’m never going to revert to the name myself but I can at least feel better about it, align it with some great writers.

To this end I’ve decided to focus on well-known writers, in the hope of developing an appreciation and positive relation. I’m choosing writers whose work is in the public domain for ease, the limited numbers, and because of my interest in history… and because it costs a lot less to read free books.

So I took myself to Project Gutenberg and searched to catalog. There are a number of Charlottes listed so I’m going to focus on those for which there’s some information. My list is short – I think that’s best, and is as follows: Brontë, Perkins Gilman, Turner Smith, Lennox, Mary Yonge. It doesn’t go as far back in history as I’d like – Turner Smith and Lennox were born in the early decades of 1700s – but then I’m dealing with historical texts written by women. I’m also perhaps sort of cheating as I’m half-way through my second Gilman and have read two Brontës. But I couldn’t really leave them out.

I’m particularly looking forward to reading Turner Smith, Lennox, and Yonge because I’d forgotten about them. Turner Smith I first discovered some years ago but her book, Emmeline (a Cinderella-type story) was only available online in scanned fragments of old editions and about as much in print. In the years since, Project Gutenberg have produced a text – finding that made my day. There aren’t aren’t notes in regards to sourcing but it’s the best yet.

Lennox I only knew from seeing The Female Quixote listed on Girl Ebooks. Having read that it’s a parody of Cervantes I’m very much looking forward to it. Granted, my knowledge of the story is limited to Nik Kershaw’s song and the bookmark in my father’s copy that never moved from 1/4 of the way through, but it’s enough. It also appears to be shorter and there’s no need to worry about finding the right translation.

Yonge I heard of through well, you guys, and it’ll be The Heir of Redclyffe that I’ll be reading. In researching her I discovered she lived and died in Hampshire so I may make a trip to see her house and grave. The novel is mentioned in Little Women.

Charlotte Niese, a German writer, was looking like a possibility, but there’s only one story available in English and I’m not so sure there’s any fiction to be had. She campaigned for women’s rights but Wikipedia states she wrote only within socially acceptable boundaries. If, once I’ve read the above five authors, I want to continue, I’ll consider Niese; I’ve got to remember that as much as my first thought was to compile a list of every literary Charlotte, non-fiction texts don’t quite match the concept I had in mind.

Still to decide: do I extend my reading to other countries’ versions of the name? I considered ‘Carlotta’ but I actually rather like the one so it wouldn’t really fit what I’m trying to do and as previously alluded to, it’s difficult to work with translations.

I’ve no dates, no schedule in mind, it’s more a general reading goal. I may or may not post updates – most likely I’ll just review the books.

Any famous literary Charlottes I’ve missed?



April 24, 2017, 4:31 pm

Not an author, of course… but I can’t help but think about Charlotte the spider in E.B. White’s children’s classic.


April 25, 2017, 2:09 pm

There’s Charlotte Bartlett in A Room With a View. I’ve always liked the name Charlotte!


April 25, 2017, 8:59 pm

I really like the name Charlotte. I can’t think of any other authors you haven’t already mentioned, but I’ve read and enjoyed all four of Charlotte Bronte’s novels, as well as The Heir of Redclyffe – I remember it being a bit sentimental, but still a good book. Good luck with your project!

Jenny @ Reading the End

April 27, 2017, 1:42 am

This is such a charming project! I like the name Charlotte a lot — when I was a kid I thought it was 100% the most beautiful name in the whole world, and I had not one but two stuffed animals called Charlotte. :p


April 27, 2017, 4:25 pm

I hope you enjoy your project and that it helps you appreciate your lovely name. Funnily enough I have the opposite problem. I love my name but everyone else seems to want to shorten it all the time!



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