My new book – Nautical Women – out soon

In Nautical Women, I explore the stories of women whose lives were inextricably linked to the sea.

I tell of the women of coastal sailortowns struggling to keep out of the dreaded workhouse and resisting the prowling press gangs; and of the courageous and skilful cross-dressing women sailors who went to extraordinary lengths to hide their true gender.  We learn about these women’s motivation as well as their adventures and inevitable exposure.

I also consider the fate of African women who were forced onto vessels to be traded and sold as slaves. The lives of black women soldiers and sailors, disguised as men, who sailed on Royal African Company vessels to and from West Africa are described, in particular the tragic voyage of the Hannibal in 1693.

Nautical Women challenges our stereotypes of women in earlier societies by uncovering their harsh working conditions and revealing their courage

Coming soon, my new book Nautical Women!

Nautical Women

Woman Sailor climbing the rigging
Woman Sailor climbing the rigging

My latest book is soon to be published!  This work tells the story of the women who lived both on the sea and on the shore line during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.  Their lives were mainly dependent on an income generated directly from the many industries connected with seafaring.

Women and their families were directly impacted when their men-folk would be forceably pressed into the Royal Navy.  The men would often leave their wives and families desitute because they were not paid until they returned home, which could mean months and even years going without pay.  Included are many tales of women who attacked and even murdered members of the press-gang to drive them out of town and prevent their men-folk being snatched away.

Another aspect of Nautical Women is the sub-culture that existed of women dressing up as men and disguising themslves as sailors. Small glimpses of the the roles played by these women are to be found secreted in ships’ journals, court records, ballads and artistic portrayals. Women who wanted to escape poverty, had a lust for travel, or might be even trying to find a lost sailor lover would sail for many months along side the male sailors before being dicovered.  Of course it is only the ones that were discovered that we know about. Some appeared in court, while others made sensational news copy.

But the women who were left behind, often living in poverty in our British port towns had to survive the best way they could, and the book takes a look at how women found work, or not, as the case may be.