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Women Sailors and Sailors' Women: An Untold…

Women Sailors and Sailors' Women: An Untold Maritime History

by David Cordingly

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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.) ( )
  rrainer | Apr 30, 2013 |
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 to navigate, but Mary's husband had taught her how on a previous journey, so rather than pull into a foreign port and cause her husband's employer to face a heavy fine, she took the wheel, navigated the ship for 4 months and completed the voyage.
Also surprising is the number of women who were able to collect a sort of pension from the Royal Navy after being discovered and removed from duty. It seems that in many cases, if a woman could prove that she had served honorably, even though in disguise, she received her pay for services rendered. ( )
  mstrust | Jul 16, 2011 |
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, this would be a good place to start. ( )
  rjurban | Jan 5, 2010 |
Excellent book, well written, researched and documented. I highly reccomend it to anyone with an interest in maritime history, or women history.
  Selkie | Sep 29, 2005 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375500413, Hardcover)

For centuries the sea has been regarded as a male domain. Fisherman, navy officers, pirates, and explorers roamed the high seas while their wives and daughters stayed on shore. Oceangoing adventurers and the crews of their ships were part of an all-male world — or were they?

In this illuminating historical narrative, maritime scholar David Cordingly shows that in fact an astonishing number of women went to sea in the great age of sail. Some traveled as the wives or mistresses of captains. A few were smuggled aboard by officers or seaman. A number of cases have come to light of young women dressing in men’s clothes and working alongside the sailors for months, and sometimes years. In the U.S. and Britsh navies, it was not uncommon for the wives of bosuns, carpenters, and cooks to go to sea on warships. Cordingly’s tremendous research shows that there was indeed a thriving female population — from female pirates to the sirens of legend — on and around the high seas. A landmark work of women’s history disguised as a spectacularly entertaining yarn, Women’s Sailors and Sailor’s Women will surprise and delight readers.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:07 -0400)

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