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Jo Stanley

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.

Jo StanleyMy 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.

Cut LassShips 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.

Breaking news

Jo Stanley receiving a certifcate of meritFrom 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.

Maritime Media Awards 2016Here's the brochure for the awards ceremony. This year it focuses on Opportunities for Women in Marine-Related Occupations.

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

'Jo Stanley has for many years now fearlessly explored the depths of maritime history. She has discovered so many treasures that she herself has become a treasure. Read From Cabin 'Boys' to Captains and find out why.'
Marcus Rediker, author of Outlaws of the Atlantic, Distinguished Professor of Atlantic History at the University of Pittsburgh.
'Your articles are concise, revealing, heartfelt, funny, and very necessary.'
(Dr Ray Walsh, John Moores University)
'You've written probably the most innovative essay ever in the historiography of mobilities.'
(Dr Peter Norton, Editor, T2M Yearbook, University of Virginia)
'I've been a fan of your work for a long time, as it really opens new and fun horizons for maritime history.'
(Henry Trotter, author and Yale University/University of Cape Town).

Forthcoming articles

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.
University of Liverpool

stewardesses who sailed to West Africa

Stewardess Julia Andrew sailing on Elder Dempster vessel c 1926. Photo courtesy of Grace Pritchard.

Catch this!

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.

Gamuchirai Gweza, who played 'William Brown' on HMS Victory.

What's next

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 and enter the discount code AN2 when prompted.

Already you can buy merchandise using this image

mousemats, fridge magnets and handbag mirrors