Captain Wright c. 1834 England
gouache on paper, 11 x 7 inches
In the collection of the Davis Museum at Wellesley College

On Sunday, December 14th 1834, there was an “Extraordinary Discovery” published in The Bell’s New Weekly Messenger, a London newspaper. For two Sundays the newspaper highlighted the personal story of Mr. Wright, known as Captain Wright.

For five years Mr. and Mrs. Wright lived at Kennington Lane as husband and wife. They were by all accounts “respectable gentlefolks.” Captain Wright was known as a jovial fellow who walked with a swagger and was fairly heavyset for his diminutive stature of four feet five inches tall. He frequented the nearby public houses, enjoying immensely his glass of grog, his pipe and the company of “pretty girls” as he was fond of saying.

He was also very fond of rabbits, of which he kept and bred an abundance. Finding them a “delightful and interesting study” he would apparently go on and on about them to anyone who would listen, even going so far as to wager large sums of money on their reproductive powers.

The newspaper recounts that when Captain Wright died, the body was found to be female, a “beard only excepted.” Of course, large crowds of curious neighbors came to view the body, now referred to as a “creature” by the newspaper. Rumors quickly spread as people attempted to guess at the reasons behind the Captain’s “disguise”—property inheritance and blackmail were among the many guesses.

His coffin was engraved with the name Eliza Wright.


“Extraordinary Discovery- A Female Husband.” The Bell’s New Weekly Messenger 14 Dec. 1834: 597.

“The Late Female Husband at Kennington- Further Particulars.” The Bell’s New Weekly Messenger 21 Dec. 1834: 607.