Charlotte Forman (1715–1787) was a journalist, translator, political essayist and activist. Between 1756 and 1780, she wrote political essays and news from abroad for newspapers under pseudonyms (false names). The false name she used in the newspapers Gazetteer and The Public Ledger was "Probus".
She was not famous in her lifetime, but she has become more well known in recent years. This is because she was one of the few women at that time who wrote essays on politics and trade. Back then, people thought those were men's areas of interest. Because of sexism, most people thought Forman's essays were written by men.
Early life[change | change source]
Forman's father was Irish Jacobite Charles Forman, and her mother was called Mary. Forman had five brothers and sisters.
Charles Forman was a clerk in the English war office. When James Francis Edward Stuart tried become king of England, Ireland and Scotland (and make royal House of Stuart the rulers of these countries) in the Jacobite rising of 1715, Forman was late in sending orders to the English general Charles Wills, who was fighting the Jacobites. Therefore, we do not know whether Charlotte was born in England or France, but she did later write that she had been "nursed in the palace of the Trianon" in France.
Writing career[change | change source]
Forman wrote a many political essays for the Gazetteer and London Daily Advertiser between 1756 and 1760, then carried in in the Public Ledger in 1760. Both newspapers were for merchants, traders, and shopkeepers in London, and had information about to international trade, such as news about shipping and offers of wholesale and retail goods..
Forman's essays in the Gazetteer and the Public Ledger, all signed as Probus, were written in the before and during the Seven Years' War. About 200 surviving essays comment on diplomatic news and general news reports, as well as looking into the interests of England, Prussia, France, Holland, Austria, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and Denmark. She always supported the English war effort, and kept telling readers that England could defeat France, as well as defending Frederick the Great and William Pitt from critics. She also argued against an early peace, as she thought it would give France too much leeway.
Letters written between her and with Radical satirist and politician John Wilkes have beensaid to give modern readers "graphic evidence of the struggles of an independent woman in the 18th century attempting to support herself by writing". She said she was a literary day labourer.
She is not known to have published anything under her own name, although there are many works published anonymously which now cannot be attributed.
References[change | change source]
- Sage, Lorna; Greer, Germaine; Showalter, Elaine (30 September 1999). The Cambridge Guide to Women's Writing in English. Cambridge University Press. p. 249. ISBN 9780521668132. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
- Staves, Susan (23 September 2004). "Forman, Charlotte [pseud. Probus] (1715–1787), journalist and translator". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/72232. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. Retrieved 5 July 2020. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)