Consultant in maritime history and creative lifestory
Women at sea and why they matter
Traditionally, ships are places where women shouldn't be, said some men. But why stop half the population from being mobile in this way? And how can women fulfil their potential by roving and becoming all the things they never even dared to dream of on land.
Exploring women's maritime pasts is what a few historians are doing, such as Margaret Creighton, Lisa Norling, Joan Druett and Suzanne Stark. I've been exploring in this way since the 1980s. Pirates and pursers, dancers and doctors, captains and cooks: I've written and talked about women in most seafaring occupations. (And I'm always impressed. Do I myself fancy seafaring? No, I get too sick!).
From Cabin 'Boys' to Captains
BOLD IN HER BREECHES
Bold in Her Breeches: Women Pirates Across the Ages (Ed), Pandora 1995, Rivers Oram and Toyoshorin, Japan, 2003
This book succeeds admirably. It is by turns questioning, sceptical, imaginative, personal. The authors reconstruct, suppose, and above all, tell what can be known. It's written with wit and a light touch.
Women who wanted to work at sea faced stiff resistance in the 1970s in the Merchant Navy and in the 1990s in the Royal Navy. It's sometimes still a challenge. Picture courtesy of Sally Fodie.
Women and the Navy, National Museum of the Royal Navy/IB Tauris, 2017.
Go to page 1 on this website to see details of my next book on the Women and the Royal Navy will look like, in March 2017.
All-female camaraderie like this, plus fun, adventure, and the chance to do scientific jobs - and even fly - were among the attractions of life in naval services for women. I'm just on the last stages of writing up the fascinating and lively new information about naval nurses (QARNNS), women in naval families and employment, and the Women's Royal Naval Service. WRNS include those working in the Fleet Air Arm and Royal Marines.
Women and the Royal Navy is being launched in conjunction with the centenary of the Women's Royal Naval Service in 2017 and the exhibition about naval women opening that month in Portsmouth.
See the exhibition at the NMRN from Spring.
Women in the Association of Wrens are helping me with their stories.