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Seafaring Women: Adventures of Pirate Queens, Female Stowaways & Sailors' Wives
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Seafaring Women: Adventures of Pirate Queens, Female Stowaways & Sailors' Wives

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  241 ratings  ·  34 reviews
For centuries, the sea has been regarded as a male domain, but in this illuminating historical narrative, maritime scholar David Cordingly shows that an astonishing number of women went to sea in the great age of sail. Some traveled as the wives or mistresses of captains; others were smuggled aboard by officers or seamen. And Cordingly has unearthed stories of a number of ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 12th 2002 by Random House (first published January 1st 2001)
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Community Reviews

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After reading several HRs that center around pirates or naval themes, I wanted to know more about what really happened on the high seas in the late 1700s through to mid 1800s. Were women common on board naval or merchant vessels? What was life like for them? Were there any female pirates? Were there any female sailors and, if so, how did they manage to keep their gender a secret?

Well, this book answered all these questions and more. It explained the differences in naval ranks, what conditions we
CJ - So, you wanna play with magic?
Jul 17, 2009 CJ - So, you wanna play with magic? rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: maritime history fans
Shelves: history
I will have to admit that the title is a little misleading as the book is a lot more about the sailors then their women at certain points - however, on the whole it was very interesting and enlightening.

I learned a lot about my city in the first chapter (I'm from NYC) and the prostitution and dance halls that popped up down there because of the sea ports and the demands of the sailors.

You learn a lot about select captains of the navy and of course you read about Mary Reade and Anne Bonny. Pirate
I read this book under its original title "Women Sailors and Sailors' Women" (which I guess wasn't piratey enough for our Johnny Depp loving public - Oh well). I learned much from this book, and if I weren't in such a hurry to go find more books, I'd probably write it all down in a nicely outlined, formal report.
Anyhoo. This book is well written and well researched. Although Cordingly can occasionally get lost in his facts and come across rather dry, his information on seafaring women is so inte
I've often felt that history doesn't lend much credence to the women who supported the men that stories were written of. Cordingly tries to make amends for that in his tales of women who stowed away on ships masquerading as men, heroic lighthouse women and seafaring heroines. He also speaks of the women who supported their men at sea and writes quite a bit of those that did what they could to support themselves with what they had, and the men that succumbed to them when they came into port. Much ...more
Kate Robinson
This book was well written, thoroughly researched, and loaded with anecdotal information of women's lives at sea. Despite its many tales of 'women sailors and sailors' women,' it seemed incomplete. Certain chapters were highly entertaining, while others seemed void of any story worth remembering.

However, the topic remained intriguing enough to make it easy to breeze through the book's 250 pages.
I found this book a fairly enjoyable read. I learned a lot and in a fun-loving to learn way. The author documented his sources very well which lends itself to being a very good authority on the subject. Yet, the reader isn't left to slog through stale facts. I felt like I was living the events with history's participants and enjoyed the experience.

There were a few times I felt like the author was going off on a tangent, and a few chapters felt very out of place and dropped me out of the informa
Tyrannosaurus regina
In short, for a book called "Seafaring Women" it was shockingly patronizing of women. (Or maybe it wasn't shocking, and that was what made me so angry.)
For a book supposedly about women in the golden age of sea-faring this book talks way too much about men... I mean I guess I should have expected it considering that it's not like historical records written by women were all that common in the mid 1700s, especially first hand accounts on sea faring... I just expected to read a bit more about the other female pirates and more details about women posing as young boys to join the navy or even women who took charge when men couldn't!!

It just got ti
This book, written by pirate expert Cordingly, covers all aspects of women and the sea- girls who sailed disguised as boys, female pirates, the lives of prostitutes in port towns and the wives of sailors and ship captains. There are many women here that I had never heard of, and I've read lots on pirate and sea history.
A standout is the story of nineteen year-old Mary Patten, the wife of a ship captain who became ill in 1856 while sailing from New York to San Francisco. The first mate was unable
Gilly McGillicuddy
David Cordingly can have my babies.

I decided to read another one of his after having struggled through Napoleon Is Dead: Lord Cochrane and the Great Stock Exchange Scandal, and oh, how it's set me up again. :D Intelligent, informed and still full of squee.

Also? Me, I'm still very much on the fence about Lord Cochrane's guilt at the stock exchange kerfluffle, right? Leaning toward "yeah, yeah, he probably did it, but didn't realise the repercussions".

But I can tell you one person who doesn't
April Helms
This is a very dense book on the history of women and their connection with the sea. It's a pretty thorough book, covering a lot of angles- not just on the many roles of women but on the background and history. Those interested in maritime history would do well to include this book on their shelf. The stories of the women themselves cover a vast range. There are the heroes, such as Grace Darling, who, along with her father, a lighthouse keeper, rescued the passengers from the wrecked steam paddl ...more
Andrea Dowd
This book left a lot to be desired. Read other books about maritime history or sailing history and you'll get more succinct and a more drilled down understanding of the life and hardship (yes, even that of women). Big feminist theory/obvious revelations about women and the world of ocean economies were either ignored or glossed over. And don't even get me started about how many times Cordingly brought up a story of a female sailor or whatever water-related woman he was discussing, and then casua ...more
There's a lot that's interesting here, and it's hard to imagine a better book for anyone who wants to learn more about sailing and sailors, especially women. You'll get the gamut here. Everything from prostitutes and sailor's wives to women who disguised themselves as men and went to war, sometimes even getting pensions from the government for their service after they returned home and revealed their sex. There are also chapters on mermaids and sirens, lighthouse keepers, and pirates. If it invo ...more
Adrienne Kiser
Interesting and incredibly readable! Seemed to be some parts that really strayed from having a focus on women, but it was easy not to mind so much since the topic remained engaging.
Cordingly is strongest when he's using and retelling stories from primary sources, unfortunately this leaves lots of unanswered questions about what was really going on when primary sources are unreliable (especially printed biographies, memoirs, newspaper accounts, etc.). Cordingly points out where things are likely exaggerations (even in the 18th/19th centuries sex sold...), but is weak on trying to offer alternative accounts. If you're an academic looking for some juicy topics to dig into, th ...more
I enjoyed this book, but I had two problems with it. First, there were several chapters where he spent significantly more time discussing general maritime and naval history than how it specifically related to women. Secondly, the title refers to "pirate queens" and while there is a chapter on female pirates he never actually mentions a "pirate queen." It's a small detail, but I found it a bit frustrating. If he wanted a "pirate queen," why didn't he mention Grace O'Malley?
Leslie Jonsson
Excellent book on female pirates, seafarer's women and women somehow involved in a career with the sea.
Mills College Library
910.45 C795 2007
Fascinating facts, pedestrian writing. Slightly disappointing in that the author focused far more on men at sea and how they related to women than on women at sea. Still the book contains truly heroic or maybe I should say heroine-ic stories including on of an 18-year-old wife of a clipper ship captain who took over command when her husband became ill and successfully sailed around the Horn to San Francisco.
They should have kept the old title. The new one is a bit misleading. If you're looking mainly for a book about female sailors in the age of sail look elsewhere.

However, this book offers a nice overview of different areas in which women touched sailors' life. Be it as sailors themselves, as pirates, lighthouse keepers, or as wives, prostitutes or mythological creatures.
Jason Lang
An interesting book on the lives of women who lived in and around the sailing industry. From a fascinating look at the whores and wives at dockside, women who dressed as men to go to sea, to famous women sailors and pirates. A well-researched book that shows that a lot of what you think about sailors, sailors wives, and the docks around them, are wrong.
damn. their anxiety and loneliness was so starkly real. raising a huge family, struggling while your sailor husband is out to sea. always waiting. these were brave women. the heroines that actually spent years working aboard the ship and keeping lighthouses were so amazing. this was a def good suggestion. thanks muna.
Unit of Raine
Fascinating stories about women and the sea, mainly in the 1700-1800's. The stories of the individual women and the conditions of life are fascinating. The transitions between snippets are a little stilted.
Definitely reminds me how leisurely, safe and healthy my life is.
Nov 10, 2009 tim rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: sea
The stories of the women passing as male sailors were pretty fascinating. I would have loved to have heard their first hand accounts but it appears that the existing first hand accounts are largely fabrications.
This book really deserves 2.5 stars, not three, because only half the book was true to the thesis while the other half seemed force. However, its an interesting read....I don't regret reading it.
Cindy Powell
Read this as part of research for the book I'm writing. Not terribly impressed with the writing or research. But for anybody who has never read about women aboard ships--a good start.
Artnoose Noose
There were some redeeming bits of information in this book but I guess I was hoping for more swashbuckling pirate ladies and fewer pining wives ashore.
This was not exactly what I was expecting when I got this book...but it was an interesting read about women in a largely male-dominated arena: the sea.
Lots of interesting stories about women and the sea. My favorite section was about lighthouse keepers - that chapter should have been a lot longer!
Lord Beardsley
Fantastic account of women in the age of sail. Highly readable and fascinating on top of that.
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David Cordingly is an English naval historian who is considered one of the leading authorities on pirates. He held the position of Keeper of Pictures and Head of Exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England for twelve years.

David Cordingly organised several exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum, including Captain James Cook, Navigator and The Mutiny on the Bounty. Perhap
More about David Cordingly...
Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates Cochrane: The Real Master and Commander Billy Ruffian Pirate Hunter of the Caribbean: The Adventurous Life of Captain Woodes Rogers Pirates: Terror on the High Seas, from the Caribbean to the South China Sea

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