Were You At Oxford In 2019, And If So, Can You Help Me Source This Wild Claim That Oxford Students Started A Rumor (Sorry, Rumour) That Stendhal Was A Trans Man Or Something?

Today’s Shatner Chatner will be rather short and to the point: Were you an undergraduate at Oxford in 2019? Were you attached to any of the French departments at the various colleges? And if so, do you remember any popular rumors about how Stendhal, author of The Red and the Black and an important figure in the development of literary realism, was a woman in a top hat?

I tweeted about this yesterday,

and while I haven’t yet heard from anyone who was reading French at the time and heard anything like this, the line now seems to have been scrubbed from Stendhal’s Wikipedia page:

I’m simply desperate to know! How widespread were these rumors? Did someone make up a rumor about the existence of rumors about Stendhal in 2019? If so, why? Do you think an undergraduate just got confused by the name “Marie-Henri Beyle” and thought they’d made some sort of discovery? But surely you don’t get admitted to read French at an Oxford college without learning about the masculine compound form of Marie in French/Spanish Catholic families, right?

I’ll admit that the chinstrap pattern of Stendhal’s beard in the Wikipedia thumbnail feels very much in conversation with Chaz Bono’s. But can such weak tea really provoke rumors among Oxford undergraduates, who presumably have access to very strong tea indeed? Send help, if you can.