Tunbridge-Walks was the most successful, and also the least bawdy. In the 1778-83 Encyclopedia Britannica and the 1782 Biographia Dramatica, David Baker (not known to be a relative) was of the opinion that Baker had in Tunbridge-Walks written the molly character, Maiden, based on himself, intending to place his own failings in a ridiculous light for the purpose of warning. For this reason, Trumbach regards Baker as the first molly that we know of. Maiden has what at that time were regarded as female accomplishments: he can sing, dance, play the guitar. He can also dress a woman in that he was once an apprenticed to a milliner. He likes women’s company but has never had sex with a woman. He and his friends gather in his chamber and dress and play as women. He “[loves] mightily to go abroad in Women’s Clothes,” especially to the theatre.
Baker is also credited as being Mrs Crackenthorpe who wrote in the tri-weekly satirical periodical, The Female Tatler, 1709-10. According to a rival paper, The British Apollo, Baker suffered a beating after a prominent London family was ridiculed in The Female Tatler, and Mrs Crackenthorpe ceased writing soon afterwards because of an “Affront offer’d to her by some rude Citizens, altogether unacquainted with her Person”.
After this Baker disappeared from the London literary scene. He acquired a position in Bedfordshire where he worked as a schoolmaster and vicar. After his death, said to be of the skin disease, morbus pediculosus, his successor wrote of him: “Baker was a man of strange turn, imperious and clamorous upon topics of no service towards the promoting of true religion in his parish and not a little addicted to stiff and dividing principles”.
*Not Tom Baker, also of Tunbridge Wells, the fourth Dr Who.
- “Tunbridge-Walks; or, The Yeoman of Kent - A critical Edition”. http://drc.usask.ca/projects/walks/criticalintro.html.
- John Joseph Knight. “Baker, Thomas” Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Vol 03. Online at: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Baker,_Thomas_%28fl.1700-1709%29_%28DNB00%29.
- Randolph Trumbach. “Modern Sodomy: The Origins of Homosexuality, 1700-1800”. In Matt Cook. A Gay History of Britain: Love and Sex Between Men Since the Middle Ages. Oxford: Greenwood World Publishing, 2007: 78-9.