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 and non-white people) or LGBTQI people - for whom seagoing meant sometimes queer heaven and sometimes injustice.
Ships are hypersexualised spaces. As a would-be sexologist as well as 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 the University of Hull's Maritime Historical Studies Centre I am an Honorary Research Fellow.
From Cabin 'Boys' to Captains 'is the winner of the third place (a Certificate of Merit) in the Maritime Media Awards: the UK's main prize for sea books: the Mountbatten Literary Prize.
So there's many articles about woman at sea in it, including one by me on p20, as well as great pictures. Try it!
What they say about me
Late Spring 2017: Cubah Cornwallis: the black nurse who saved Nelson's life in Jamaica, Trafalgar Chronicle (special edition: 'Nelson's other women').
Summer 2017: Stories of pioneering stewardesses who sailed to West Africa, on the forthcoming website of the Elder Dempster Lines Heritage Archive Project.
Stewardess Julia Andrew sailing on Elder Dempster vessel c 1926. Photo courtesy of Grace Pritchard.
Queer history of Falklands Conflict
The MV Norland, the Hull-Zeebrugge car ferry, was the the campest ship in that war. Warren FitzGerald. has written the frisky story: All in the Same Boat, London: John Blake, 2016.
My review in the British Journal of Military History is just out: in it I say 'Bacon butties, self-styled poufs and honky-tonk joannas ... This is an important book in that new category: military and maritime diversity ...Poignant, rich, and bravely direct; it deserves to be on all maritime and Armed Forces reading lists.'
You can download the full review free from www.bjmh.org.uk/index.php/bjmh/index
And here's a pic from it, thanks to Warren: it shows the Neptune ceremony as they cross the Equator.
See me on BBC's One Show talking about the only known black woman to disguise herself as a boy and go to sea: William Brown, 1815.
Gamuchirai Gweza, who played 'William Brown' on HMS Victory.
My new book, Women and the Royal Navy, (IB Tauris/ National Museum of the Royal Navy) will be launched.
Pre-order it for £14 instead of £20 RRP via www.ibtauris.com/royal-navy and enter the discount code AN2 when prompted.
Already you can buy merchandise using this image