on stage, a gaunt figure in a tattered asylum gown and a threadbare
navel jacket shuffles unsurely, then straightens up to address the
curious spectators who've paid a penny to gawk at the inmates of
In 1747, bereft of her baby daughter and abandoned by
a no good husband, Hannah Snell stomped across gender constraints,
donned her brother-in-law's uniform and boarded the Swallow
as a member of the Royal Marines, where she served for three years as a
man. Forty-four years later Snell was committed to London's notorious
Bethlem Hospital where she died in 1792, aged sixty-nine. Hannah Snell: Female Warrior or Hannah in Bedlam is
a developing work that seeks to dramatize the remarkable life of Hannah
Snell as well as document the historial lineage of gender-shifters, who
have always been among us. The work received a development grant
from the Ontario Arts Council in 2006.
"T'was not for love n'a glory. T'was for revenge! N' th' preservation o' me life!
was there ta' do but shed th' prison o' me sex, change me name, n' thus
pursue th' scoundrel that condemn'd me?!"
"In a word, gentlemen, I am as much a woman as my mother ever was, and my real name is Hannah Snell."
-The Female Soldier (1750)