Charlotte French was born in Kent in 1844. In 1870 she met Maximilian Carden Despard, a wealthy Frenchman. They made their home in England, but visited Ireland regularly.
Charlotte became a member of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) and went on to join the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1906. 1909 she became President of the Women’s Freedom League (WFL). In 1908 she joined with Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and Margaret Cousins to form the Irish Women's Franchise League as a dedicated and enthusiastic supporter of radical causes, Charlotte was a supporter of the Irish Republican Army and the Independence movement in Ireland. She became close friends with Maud Gonne, and in the Summer of 1921 she moved permanently to Dublin.
As with almost all of the women in the nationalist movement, Charlotte was against the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. During the Civil War she helped found the Women’s Prisoners’ Defence League.
In later life she became secretary of the Friends of Soviet Russia organization. She campaigned for Eamon de Valera in 1932 and for causes such as opposition to General Franco and the Fascist movement.
Charlotte Despard died on the 9th November 1939 and is buried in Glasnevin cemetery.