Consultant in maritime history and creative lifestory
Welcome to my website
I'm a creative historian who works with museums, universities and in the community. Women who went to sea - whose travel transformed their lives forever - are my special area of expertise.
My especial interest is in the stories of people who have led marginalised lives in the past - and sought adventure, freedom and the space to be all they are, and might become.
In particular this means recording people, or helping them write their stories. They tend to be people who've taken jobs at sea despite the odds - like women, black and minority ethnic (BAME) and LGBTQI people - for whom seagoing meant sometimes liberation and sometimes injustice.
Ships are hypersexualised spaces for those confined in them. As a cultural historian, that's fascinating to me. They're heterotopias (meaning other places, like Wonderland) and liminal zones, which means they explain a lot about our societies on land.)
I live in Marsden in the Pennines, and work a lot in London and abroad. At Liverpool John Moores University I am Visiting Senior Research Fellow. At the University of Hull's Maritime Historical Studies Centre I am an Honorary Research Fellow.
My new book, Women and the Royal Navy, (IB Tauris/ National Museum of the Royal Navy) is just starting its first reviews.
It was Book of the Week in The Lady on January 5 2018. Reviewer Lyndsy Spence wrote:'Extraordinary information is revealed...the book strikes a balance between the romantic notion of the naval life as one of freedom, and a more realistic view of the responsibilities and dangers that women were taking on...This is a timely and inspiring book.'
The Spectator in Jan 2018 carried a review by Alan Judd.
'This book is a thoroughly researched account of the parts played by women in the service of the Royal Navy from the Middle Ages to the present. What it lacks in anecdotes and personal accounts it makes up for in its comprehensive documentation of official attitudes and measures.'
Order the book for £14 instead of £20 RRP. Enter the discount code AN2 when prompted.
What they say about me
Late Spring 2018: Cubah Cornwallis: the black nurse who saved Nelson's life in Jamaica, Trafalgar Chronicle (special edition: 'Nelson's other women').
Black women sailors in history - and why there aren't more of them.
Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool. Sun 11 March 2018. 2.30 pm. Free.
Disguised in trousers 'William Brown', a young woman from Grenada, was in 1815 the navy's first and only known B.A.M.E. female sailor.
Using many images Dr Jo Stanley tells the story of 'William' and her successors. They include Belinda Bennett, who in 2016 became the UK's first black woman cruiseship 'master'. Belinda, pictured here in Grenada on her Windstar Cruises ship, features in the museum's current Black Salt exhibition.
Look out for forthcoming reviews
British Journal for Military History:
'With a Weapon and a Grin: postcard Images of France's Black African Colonial Troops in WWI' by Stephan Likosky, Schiffer publishing.
'Women at the Wheel: A Century of Buying, Driving, and Fixing Cars' by Katherine J. Parkin, University of Pennsylvania Press.