Women Sailors and Sailors' Women by David CORDINGLY

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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.


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David Cordingly was for twelve years on the staff of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, where he was curator of paintings and then head of exhibitions. He is a graduate of Oxford and the author of Under the Black Flag, an acclaimed history of piracy. Cordingly lives with his wife and family by the sea in Sussex, England.
Published January 1, 2001 by Random House.
Genres: History, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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While noting how important these women were to maintaining morale and household, Cordingly questions the extent of women’s presence out on the waves, arguing that accounts of women disguised as men in shipboard service were mostly fictitious, and lurid tales of women pirates were often mere fanta...

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In Women Sailors & Sailors' Women David Cordingly explores the ofttimes overlooked history of women who went to sea, as well as the history of those women who waited on shore, never knowing if the men they were waiting for would ever return.

Feb 28 2002 | Read Full Review of Women Sailors and Sailors' Women

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