The Floating Brothel by Sian Rees
The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts

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Synopsis

A seafaring story with a twist--the incredible voyage of a shipload of "disorderly girls" and the men who transported them, fell for them, and sold them.

This riveting work of rediscovered history tells for the first time the plight of the female convicts aboard the Lady Julian, which set sail from England in 1789 and arrived in Australia's Botany Bay a year later. The women, most of them petty criminals, were destined for New South Wales to provide its hordes of lonely men with sexual favors as well as progeny. But the story of their voyage is even more incredible, and here it is expertly told by a historian with roots in the boat-building business and a true love of the sea.

Siân Rees delved into court documents and firsthand accounts to extract the stories of these women's experiences on board a ship that both held them prisoner and offered them refuge from their oppressive existence in London. At the heart of the story is the passionate relationship between Sarah Whitelam, a convict, and the ship's steward, John Nicol, whose personal journals provided much of the material for this book. Along the way, Rees brings the vibrant, bawdy world of London--and the sights, smells, and sounds of an eighteenth-century ship--vividly to life. In the tradition of Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea, this is a winning combination of dramatic high seas adventure and untold history.
 

About Sian Rees

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Siân Rees was born and brought up in Cornwall, England, in a family of boatbuilders and designers. After receiving her degree in history, she spent several years abroad, and it was while living in Melbourne, Australia, that she first became interested in the Lady Julian. This is her first book.
 
Published March 29, 2015 by Thistle Publishing. 256 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

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Rees debuts with a cracking tale drawn from an unedifying episode in her native England’s history: the “Transportation to Parts Beyond the Seas” of hundreds of British women, shipped on the Lady Julian in 1789 to penal life in Australia.

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The Guardian

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The Floating Brothel Sian Rees 248pp, Headline, £14.99 Buy it at BOL In July 1789, five years after the philosopher Immanuel Kant heralded the beginnings of modernity with the magnificent claim that "We do live in an age of Enlightenment", the Lady Julian, a convict ship crammed with 237 ...

Jan 06 2001 | Read Full Review of The Floating Brothel: The Ext...

BC Books

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The some 200 convict women who sailed to Sydney Cove on the Lady Julian might be considered the foremothers of the Australian nation - sent not only because Britain's jails in the 1780s were packed beyond sense with women left without economic options by the return of tens of thousands of service...

May 29 2011 | Read Full Review of The Floating Brothel: The Ext...

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On the 29th day of July, in the year 1789 the Lady Julian sailed from its last port of call in England, Cawsand Bay, and headed out into the Atlantic - its final destination was to be Botany Bay in New South Wales.

Jan 15 2003 | Read Full Review of The Floating Brothel: The Ext...

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