Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department


Committee Chair/Advisor


Committee Member


Committee Member



In 1809, Mary Anne Clarke served as a key player in an investigation against her former lover, the Duke of York. She testified before the House of Commons that the Duke, Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, did not provide her with enough financial support and allowed her to accept bribes for commissions in the army. Her confession rocked early nineteenth-century Britain, and the scandal caused the Duke to resign his military position. With Britain in the thick of the Napoleonic Wars, 1809 was a bad year for a scandal, as it encouraged Britons to doubt the authority of their military leaders.
Given this context, the Mary Anne Clarke affair offers the opportunity to study what patriotism meant to Britons during a time of war. Historians of the scandal have thus far overlooked the issue of representation, or how the popular press depicted Clarke during the scandal. In the over two hundred political cartoons that circulated at the time of the scandal, Clarke is represented as both a 'good' and 'bad' female patriot. The existence of both positive and negative portrayals underscores the British public's lack of consensus about patriotism: it was infused with gendered distinctions, yet unfixed in its meanings.

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