Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History—without the Fairy-Tale Endings” as Want to Read:
Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History—without the Fairy-Tale Endings
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History—without the Fairy-Tale Endings

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  5,237 ratings  ·  907 reviews
You think you know her story. You've read the Brothers Grimm, you've watched the Disney cartoons, and you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But real princesses didn't always get happy endings. Sure, plenty were graceful and benevolent leaders, but just as many were ruthless in their quest for power and all of them had skeletons rattling in their roy ...more
Hardcover, 303 pages
Published November 19th 2013 by Quirk Books (first published January 1st 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Princesses Behaving Badly, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Albert Meier I might disagree with it being appropriate. There are an awful lot of sexual situations discussed. There is nothing explicit, but the tone is very sen…moreI might disagree with it being appropriate. There are an awful lot of sexual situations discussed. There is nothing explicit, but the tone is very sensational, much like a tabloid or gossip column. While the details are historic, they are not discussed academically. I could understand a parent not being comfortable with their 14 year-old reading this.(less)
Sheila Majczan
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,237 ratings  ·  907 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History—without the Fairy-Tale Endings
Miranda Reads
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook

Nevertheless, here are the stories of real princesses and real women.
We all know the stories of Ariel, Belle, Cinderella and Snow White...but their fluffy stories aren't nearly close to the truth.

What about the Warrior princesses? The Usurpers? The Schemers and the Survivors?

What about their stories?

Glad you asked.

If you have ever been curious about what princesses do when they aren't batting their eyelashes or fluttering their hands, you have come to the right place.

Learn about
Sasha Strader
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
An interesting premise, but not really all that well executed.

First, and most tellingly, a few of the "real" stories are based on mythology or folklore with absolutely no proof of their existence and say as much. Why create a book of real stories and go down that path? It especially irked me in the case of "The Princess who was a Pirate" since it was just mentioned casually towards the end of the story that her existence was only in the tall tales of the area.

Secondly, the gossip rag style of w
Where I got the book: ARC from LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program. A book club read.

First of all, this is not a "serious" history book. I gather some readers have had problems with the lack of academic gravitas so if you're looking for stories of princesses with copious endnotes, stop right now and proceed to a university library. My copy is an advance reading copy so I can't tell you about the selected bibliography or the index, but from reading the book I imagine they're not that extensive.

Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book for free from the publisher (Quirk Books).

I give this book 4.5 stars which rounds up to 5.

This was such a fascinating read. It contains mini-biographies of different real life royals (princesses, empresses, sultanas etc.) from around the globe, and throughout history. Some of the princesses are well heard of, but most are relatively unknown.

I really liked how the book showed how complex and flawed these women were. They’re not necessarily depicted as being “good” or “bad”
Rebecca Huston
Sadly, I picked this one up to see if I could fight off a case of insomnia. That didn't happen. This rather short, nonfiction book is a slight, very fluffy accounting of princesses who didn't have a chance of happiness. Each one gets a page or two, a woodcut-looking illustration if they were lucky, and the author dishing up plenty of snark and snide as a bonus. Many of these ladies I had heard of, a few I knew fairly well, and quite a few were those on the fringes. The ones who claimed to be pri ...more
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My review is based on two things:
1.) Based on listening to the audio version
2.) The introduction by the author asserted that she wanted to debunk the Disney princess idealism by sharing real stories of real princesses.

The structure of the book was disjointed and contradictory. The author grouped these "princesses" (the term is used loosely as she also featured queens, empresses, and American rich girls) into various categories - "warriors," "floozies," "partiers," "etc." Some of the women fell
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My favorite kind of history book: the interesting bits, presented in handy bite-sized portions. This book is full of short (most around 4 pages) biographies of notable princesses from the 4th century to the 21st. Some of them were horrible, some insane. And some were warriors, some were saints in life and have become literal saints in death. Some were total fakers, too, like Princess Caraboo. (Side note: I love the movie with Phoebe Cates, and just found out a year ago that it was based on a tru ...more
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. While Goodreads does ask for a review in exchange for the advance reader copy, I was in no way compensated for my review.

This is a collection of stories about real-life princesses throughout history who made their marks, in one way or another. Several make power grabs, while others are known for being the true power behind the throne, or for their madness. There are some warriors, all from non-European backgrounds. Many of the s
Sep 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
This book has an interesting title and an interesting premise. Unfortunately, the writing is atrocious.

I'm confused as to the actual target audience the author was trying to reach here. In the introduction, she talks about how Disney is evil and poisoning the minds of our youth by making girls want to be like the Disney princesses (don't even get me started on this bullshit - she must have missed how Disney princesses are brave, kind, generous, hard-working, etc). Her purpose seems to be, then,
Among the numerous collections of this kind sprouting up lately, this one caught my eye first because it was about princesses, and second because it promised the truth behind these women’s stories. It did turn out to be a collection of numerous stories about the real princesses and their, sometimes, gruesome and difficult lives, but the line between fact and fiction is very blurry here. The author often cites sources, both reliable and not, but more than often she tries to weave fictional storie ...more
Sep 23, 2013 rated it liked it
We've all heard the tales of famous princesses (and queens); Marie-Antoinette, Elizabeth I, Cleopatra. But there are some princesses that are completely overlooked in the modern history books, forever to be obscure.

Until now.

In this collection, the author takes a look at some of the more colorful princesses and queens of the world. Divided into seven sections based on personality traits and actions, it gives a brief glimpse into the crazy shenanigans some of these women involved themselves in.
A moderately entertaining "beach read" type of book, with enough amusing anecdotes to keep a reader turning the pages, but overall a rather superfluous one, which I suppose is the whole point, it being a condensed popular history product. Personally, most of these women were either already known to me or just not that interesting, so I cannot say I found this particularly enjoyable or informative.
Oct 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads

As explained in its introduction, Princesses Behaving Badly seeks to destroy the myth of the "Princess Industrial Complex" covered in the book Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein. It argues that this belief in the fantasy princess life perpetuated by Disney and the real-life Kate Middleton is a dangerous one because no one seems to realize this imaginary world is an u
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a fluffy romp through history, with princesses doing exactly what the title says: behaving badly. Or being forced to behave badly due to circumstance, or being treated badly by other people. Basically, these are character sketches of princesses...minus the happy endings.

I find the criticisms of the book as not being scholarly enough perplexing--what were these reviewers expecting? And yes, the notes are scanty, but the prose is fun and so far as I could tell, accurate, and if you're rea
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Written in a casual, conversational voice, this contains short, 3-5 page stories of unconventional historical princesses. They’re a bit more Daenerys Targaryen than Cinderella. They’re princesses who have become pirates, warriors, army generals. They drink out of the skulls of their slaughtered enemies.

The eras range anywhere from 3500 years ago (Hatshepsut, of Egypt) right up til present day (1994, the year Sofka Dolgorouky—the rather ironically Communist princess—died; she was the daughter of
Behaving badly is an understatement in this history book. There are princesses who ran off with lovers, those who tried to usurp thrones, a few who would have been better rulers than their siblings, some who were mad and a few who were said to be mad but weren't. There were some what weren't actual royalty but did a good job at pretending to be, and fooled quite a few of the upper class while doing it. I enjoyed it and can't wait to add a copy to my library.
keikii Eats Books
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: genre-nonfiction
I enjoyed listening to the stories inside a lot. The layout for them was a bit..odd. But the contents were interesting and amusing.
This primarily focuses on European and a few American Princesses. These women get the most interesting and least judgmental chapters.
The smattering of Asian, Egyptian, Persian, Indigenous and singular West African women included are largely presented through the veil of colonialism. It's cringeworthy and gross.
Even the parts about European women are riddled with ableism and slut shaming.
I was not very impressed with the accuracy either.
This is an entertaining and biased romp through history as
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: librarything-arc
This book would be really good for a high school student needing an historical subject about which to write. There are wonderful snippets of information about a good number of girls and women who became leaders in their time. It's just the manner in which the information is presented that bothered me. The tone is flippant. It tries too hard to be hip. The author goes out of her way to try and sound cool... but the language just comes across as forced and strained to me. Example: referring to a s ...more
Overall I enjoyed this book, I think its a nice introduction to bad ass women in history. (It's also a fun read that doesn't take itself too seriously. This rubbed some readers the wrong way, but the author states early on her intentions of writing this book). After reading this, I definitely want to look into some more historically accurate books about some of these BA women.

This book is broken down into sections, below are some of my favorites from each:

Warriors: Princesses Who Fought Their Ow
This was a really interesting book. I've read a lot of these books about forgotten women of history [though never one centered solely on princesses] so there is always a certain amount of overlap but I would say this one was still at least half or possibly more about women that I didn't know much of anything about. The mini biographies were very easy to read and also very informative, and I liked that she presented both good and bad qualities from the women featured. I would definitely recommend ...more
 Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Jenn Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Schu
This was a Goodreads' Giveaway win and as many of you that are reading understand require a review.

The positive:
I thought this was an interesting book featuring various women from different time periods and cultures. I enjoyed learning a bit about the histories of the few women that were unknown to me. I also enjoyed the comparisons to other women of the period to provide a fuller perspective of the particular women showcased in a chapter.

The weakness:
In some segments of the book the tone was n
Dec 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Read This Review & More Like It At Ageless Pages Reviews

An absolutely fascinating collection of “royal” women, though the title is a serious misnomer. This book actually collects empresses, khans, ranis, commoners posing as royals, and yes, some princesses. Many of them didn’t behave badly, just differently from the cultural norms of the time, though some were certainly wicked, (there are sections for usurpers and schemers, along with the floozies, partiers, madwomen, warriors, and survivors.) S
Feb 08, 2014 rated it liked it
I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars, because it was lacking. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it- but I feel like I would much rather read longer biographies on most of these women, especially ones like Alfhild, Wu Zetian, Lakshmibai, and Roxolana. I also feel like the title isn't very accurate- most of these women weren't 'bad', but either sexually liberated, mad, or self centered. Yes, some of them were maybe not the best, most pristine women, but most weren't evil. They were complex, opinionated w ...more
Oct 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: historical, useless
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Continuing my search for books on women throughout history, I came across this book that touches on princesses remembered for not acting the way people thought they should. I picked it up as soon as possible and was not disappointed. If you’re looking for a serious history book, this will be a hard pass for you. This is a collection of mini biographies on princesses who are remembered for not acting the way people thought they should. It’s written in a fun style meant to give readers a short and ...more
Apr 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
This was a fun read. It's quite a quick read, with a slight humourous angle throughout, and full of the stories of important and fascinating women in history. It's not entirely exhaustive, as it doesn't really go super, super deep into each woman's life, but it's still thorough enough and covers the basics in enough detail to get each story across, and it leaves you with enough interest or curiosity to motivate you to look them up on your own and go down some pretty deep rabbit holes.

My favourit
This was quite interesting. While it's not something that could necessarily be sited as a source since it does read as a bit of a gossip rag it was still highly entertaining and thought provoking.

The vignettes hail from around the world and range throughout history although, most are from around the 16th century and later. I recognized many names with varying degrees of familiarity while others were completely unknown and I enjoyed meeting them. Seeing many of the names from a different angle th
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Secret Lives of the Tsars: Three Centuries of Autocracy, Debauchery, Betrayal, Murder, and Madness from Romanov Russia
  • Rejected Princesses: Tales of History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics
  • Regele și Duduia: Carol II și Elena Lupescu dincolo de bârfe și clișee
  • A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History's Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors
  • Ultimii Martori
  • Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge
  • Sappho Lyrics in the Original Greek
  • Recviem vesel pentru tata
  • Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics
  • Cazul Magheru
  • The Hunt for MH370
  • The Liar's Dice (The Pingkang Li Mysteries #2.5)
  • The Hidden Moon (The Pingkang Li Mysteries #3)
  • Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of History's Most Notorious Women
  • Halloween!
  • The Plus One Pact
  • Men Who Wish to Drown
  • The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle, #1)
See similar books…
Linda Rodríguez McRobbie is an American writer and journalist living in London, England. She's written about everything from the history of toilet paper to the story of the Ouija Board and has, so far, never met a topic that didn't sound utterly fascinating.

After graduating from Columbia School of Journalism in 2004, Linda began her career in Boston, first at the City Desk of the Boston Herald, f

News & Interviews

You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
27 likes · 10 comments
“Genghis Khan considered his daughters superior leaders compared to his sons, and he awarded them kingdoms that they defended tooth and nail (oftentimes against their male siblings).” 4 likes
“In Mongolian culture, Khutulun is remembered by the sport in which she so excelled. These days when Mongolian men wrestle, they wear a sort of long-sleeved vest that is open in the front to prove tp their opponents they don't have breasts. It's a tribute to the woman wrestler who was never defeated.” 3 likes
More quotes…