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Seafaring Women: Adventures of Pirate Queens, Female Stowaways, and Sailors' Wives Kindle Edition

15 customer reviews

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Length: 286 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The shipwrecked sailor is a familiar figure, but what of the woman lighthouse keeper who rescued him? Readers of sea lore know the pirate Calico Jack, but what about his mistress Anne Bonny and her lover, Mary Read? An Oxford-trained maritime museum curator, Cordingly (Under the Black Flag) writes back into naval history these and other women who went to sea with their lovers, either as wives or as cross-dressing "cabin boys." Although he sometimes wanders away from his primary subject to describe great moments in maritime history only distantly connected to women, his tales are so compelling it's hard to begrudge him the digressions. And while many of his anecdotes are quite titillating, his understated British voice keeps readers from feeling embarrassed for keyhole peeping. For instance, his sangfroid account of how a cross-dressing woman sailor's testimony led to a male sailor's execution for the crime of sodomy allows readers to draw their own conclusions. The only shortcoming to this delightful volume is its lack of illustrations. (Mar. 2)Forecast: Published in conjunction with a companion exhibit in Newport News, Va., and the author's tour of maritime museums, this book will find solid sales among female adventure fans and the many devoted readers of Patrick O'Brian's seafaring sagas.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Cordingly (Under the Black Flag), former curator of paintings and head of exhibitions for the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, here offers a fascinating survey of the role of women on shore and at sea during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, the great age of sail. Recent studies of this period reveal that "a surprising number of women went to sea," some smuggled aboard, some as the wives or mistresses of captains, and some dressed in men's clothing, working undiscovered (often for an entire voyage) alongside their shipmates. Set out in the form of a voyage, the author's historical narrative begins at the seaports; follows the varied stories of women sailors, sailors' women, and men without women at sea; examines the mystic relationship between women and water; moves on to adventures in foreign ports; and returns (with a brief investigation of lighthouses and female lighthouse keepers) to the seaports. Almost as action-packed as the sea yarns of C.S. Forester or Patrick O'Brian, Cordingly's carefully documented account presents a facet of maritime life that might surprise even Horatio Hornblower or Jack Aubrey. Recommended for public and academic libraries.DRobert C. Jones, Central Missouri State Univ., Warrensburg
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2209 KB
  • Print Length: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (March 25, 2009)
  • Publication Date: March 25, 2009
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0030CMLIE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #568,995 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Women have been held to have particular power over the sea. Mermaids, of course, enchanted the sailors, as did the Sirens. And yet, there is an ancient superstition that women are not good for ships. The contradiction between woman as sea power and woman as sea jinx is hard to understand. It is discussed, but not resolved, in _Women Sailors & Sailors' Women: An Untold Maritime History_ (Random House) by David Cordingly, a wide-ranging look at women and the high seas during the great age of sail. Cordingly has been on the staff of the fine National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, and his wonderful book _Under the Black Flag_ was a revealing account of what pirates actually did. His current book is an entertaining miscellany of feminine and nautical lore, and while it is not a feminist tract, it is clear that women have played a larger role in seafaring than history generally gives them credit for.
Some of their roles are direct ones. Hannah Snell, for instance, served as a marine in the Royal Navy, sent to India on the sloop _Swallow_ in 1747. She was a bit of a hero in the siege of Pondicherry, shot eleven times in the legs. She revealed herself as a woman to her shipmates when she arrived home, and they would not have believed it had her sister not assured them of the truth. She was the only woman sailor to be granted a pension by The Royal Hospital at Chelsea. Once she was fully recovered from her wounds, and her identity was open, she became a celebrity, performing on the stage, having her portrait painted, and issuing a vivid account of her life story.
Most of the women at sea were, of course, women without a subterfuge of being men. Lower rates were allowed to have wives and families on board, especially the warrant officers known as "standing officers.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By mirasreviews HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Seafaring life in the 18th and 19th centuries has fascinated modern history enthusiasts and captured the imaginations of novelists and filmmakers. In "Women Sailors and Sailors' Women", author David Cordingly explores an aspect of lives spent at sea that has traditionally received little attention: the women who directly or indirectly participated in the maritime lifestyle. What is often thought of as a very male culture was populated with women as well. So who were they? In answering this question, David Cordingly starts in port and takes us on a journey out to sea and back again, discussing the diverse roles of women in the sailors' lives, on land and at sea. These women were the wives, mistresses, and prostitutes of sailors, and some were sailors themselves. The book starts in port with the relationship of prostitutes to sailors, who these women were, and how they came to be. Then we go out to sea with women who disguised themselves as men and served alongside them, including the two infamous female pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read. We learn that warrant officers' wives were commonly allowed on warships and captains' wives may have been equally common residents on merchant ships. Both of these circumstances led to some interesting stories, including the origin of the term "son of a gun" and the heroic tale of Mary Patten, who captained her husband's ship around Cape Horn during a violent storm in 1856, saving its cargo and becoming an American hero. Cordingly takes a chapter to address the concept of mermaids and the mythical relationships between women and water. And he explores the legend of the stereotypical sailor who has "a wife in every port". There is a chapter on women lighthouse keepers and their daring rescues.Read more ›
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I read this book in one sitting. By covering the role of women and the sea, mostly in the 18th and 19th centuries, the author has brought to life stories that have been ignored for years. He covers everything from real women who disguised themselves as men to go to sea, to fictional and mythical creatures such as mermaids. All of the "true life" stories are wonderful, such as the young sea captain's wife who quelled a mutiny and sailed a clipper ship around Cape Horn when her husband was struck down by an illness.
David Cordingly manages to cover quite a vast subject without being overly verbose.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By doc peterson VINE VOICE on January 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
While the sea and ships have been referred to as "feminine", little attention has been given to women AT sea - until now. Cordingly has organized his book as if it were a voyage - beginning with the women left behind (wives, sweethearts and prostitutes), the book then goes on to explore women as sailors - much to my surprise, not an uncommon occurance in the 19th century. Topics and stories include women captaining and navigating, women pirates, women who enlisted (and served) as warriors aboard ships, and of course, the women sailors returned to after a voyage are all discussed in riveting detail. The book is simply marvelous. Recommended reading.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tamii on February 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is the sexiest and most informative I've read yet about female sailors and women who made their living off of the nautical trade. A lot of myths and misconceptions are explained, explored and put to rest. The author has done an impressive job with this subject and I applaud him for his decent treatment of women who led very untraditional(yet exciting) lives and professions.
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