Episode 37 - Chevalière d’Éon

In Episode 37, Dead Ladies Show co-founder Katy Derbyshire introduces French spy, diplomat, and enigma, the Chevalière d’Éon. 

Born Charles Geneviève Louise Auguste André Timothée d'Éon de Beaumont, the Chevalière d’Éon lived for 49 years as a man and spent the last 33 years of her life as a woman. 

She claimed to have been assigned female at birth in 1728 Burgundy and raised as a boy, but her elderly roommate got quite a shock when she found that the dead body had male genitalia. 

Having served as a spy to the French king, the Chevalière went into the military and then diplomacy, continuing her espionage for Louis XV from London. When the king died, d’Éon negotiated a return to France and legal recognition as a woman, then reluctantly assumed women’s clothing, made for her by Marie Antoinette’s personal dressmaker. 

She earned a meagre living after the French Revolution by performing in English fencing tournaments, wrote an unreliable autobiography, developed her own theology of virtuous womanhood (Mary Wollstonecraft was a fan of hers) and died at the impressive age of 82.

Our other DLS-co-founder Florian Duijsens joins host/producer Susan Stone to discuss how and if we should apply contemporary thinking about gender to people from the past. 

To learn more, visit our episode page here:  https://deadladiesshow.com/2020/11/12/podcast-37-chevaliere-deon/

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month. 


The Dead Ladies Show is a series of entertaining and inspiring talks about women who achieved amazing things against all odds, presented live in Berlin and beyond. This podcast is based on that series. Because women's history is everyone's history.

The Dead Ladies Show was founded by Florian Duijsens and Katy Derbyshire.

The podcast is created, produced, edited, and presented by Susan Stone.

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