100 books like Female Tars

By Suzanne J Stark,

Here are 100 books that Female Tars fans have personally recommended if you like Female Tars. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Pirate Queen: In Search of Grace O'Malley and Other Legendary Women of the Sea

Darlene Marshall Author Of Sea Change

From my list on women at sea through history (including some pirates).

Who am I?

I picked these books because I love telling stories about bold women, and pirates float my boat. Being able to incorporate so much of history into my seafaring women, making them real and believable, makes writing that much more enjoyable. When I can incorporate real historical tidbits into my work it’s a good writing day, and I wanted to share my favorite research books with other readers. 

Darlene's book list on women at sea through history (including some pirates)

Darlene Marshall Why did Darlene love this book?

Sjoholm goes far back in history to document tales of women who went to sea, and commanded ships, in Phoenicia, Scandinavia, the British Isles, and Ireland. There was no holding back strong seafaring women and I love seeing their stories brought to life. Grace O’Malley in particular won the respect of her English foes, including their strong ruler, Elizabeth I.

By Barbara Sjoholm,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pirate Queen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Pirate Queen begins in Ireland with the infamous Grace O'Malley, a ruthless pirate and scourge to the most powerful fleets of sixteenth-century Europe. This Irish clan chieftain, sea captain, and pirate queen was a contemporary of Elizabeth I, a figure whose life is the stuff of myth. Regularly raiding English ships caught off Ireland's west coast, O'Malley was purported to have fought the Spanish armada just hours after giving birth to her son. She had several husbands in her lifetime, and acquired lands and castles that still dot the Irish coastline today. But Grace O'Malley was not alone. Since…


Book cover of Bold in Her Breeches: Woman Pirates Across the Ages

Julie Walker Author Of Bonny & Read

From my list on female pirates and their inspiration.

Who am I?

I’ve been obsessed by the story of Anne Bonny and Mary Read since I heard about them in an Adam Ant song "Five Guns West". I know more than is good for me about pirates and wanted to share some of the fantastic books that inspired me when I wrote the novel Bonny & Read. Eighty years before Pride and Prejudice was written there were women armed with cutlasses roaming the Caribbean looking for ships to plunder – I want to give everyone the opportunity to learn more about this incredible hidden history.

Julie's book list on female pirates and their inspiration

Julie Walker Why did Julie love this book?

Anne Bonny and Mary Read weren’t history’s only female pirates – though you’ll find them here alongside some lesser-known names.

From Artemisia in Ancient Greece, though to Grace O’Malley, Cheng I Sao, and more, you’ll find stories on what drove these women to sea, and the freedom it offered them alongside the risks. Fascinating.

By Jo Stanley (editor),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Bold in Her Breeches as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As far back as 480 BC, when Artemisia commanded her Greek trireme, women have taken to the high seas in pursuit of life and liberty. Simultaneously revered and reviled by superstitious male mariners, the realities of these women pirates' lives have been lost in a murky fog of sexual and racial preconceptions.
Bold in her Breeches takes a wholly fresh look at these mythical figures and places them in their true historical and cultural contexts. From Artemisia to the contemporary women pirates of today, via eighteenth-century Grace O'Malley and nineteenth-century Cheng I Sao, we learn why women took to piracy,…


Book cover of She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea

Darlene Marshall Author Of Sea Change

From my list on women at sea through history (including some pirates).

Who am I?

I picked these books because I love telling stories about bold women, and pirates float my boat. Being able to incorporate so much of history into my seafaring women, making them real and believable, makes writing that much more enjoyable. When I can incorporate real historical tidbits into my work it’s a good writing day, and I wanted to share my favorite research books with other readers. 

Darlene's book list on women at sea through history (including some pirates)

Darlene Marshall Why did Darlene love this book?

Joan Druett is the dean of authors writing about women at sea. Her books bring to life not only the pirates and transgressive women, but the wives and daughters of sea captains who sailed alongside their men and shared the ship’s command and the global adventures. When I want good, historical data I turn to Druett and the tidbits she incorporates into her writing bring dry historical figures to life.

By Joan Druett, Ron Druett (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked She Captains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In an innovative look at maritime history from the female perspective, Joan Druett introduces a remarkable array of characters and re-creates their adventures with a captivating immediacy and wit. There are 'pirate queens' armed with cutlasses and pistols who strike fear into the hearts of sailors. There are sea-loving women and women eager to be with the men they loved, who dress as men and join unsuspecting crews where they serve with honour and daring. The brave housekeepers and rescue workers are here too - including twenty year old Grace Darling, whose rescue of nine castaways in 1838 inspired a…


Book cover of Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier

Linda Collison Author Of Star-Crossed

From my list on 18th and 19th century crossdressers.

Who am I?

The custom of Masquerade, of dressing as Other, has long fascinated me. In writing Star-Crossed, I set out to investigate how and why one girl might pass as a boy in an era when gender roles were sharply differentiated. I once crossed an ocean working aboard a wooden, three-masted ship – a 20th-century replica of the Bark Endeavour, circumnavigating in 1999. Sleeping in hammocks and working aloft in the rigging, I discovered this life required teamwork, stamina – and a sturdy, practical costume. Trousers, not petticoats! I have worked as a registered nurse and I earned a degree in History; these experiences combine in Star-Crossed. 

Linda's book list on 18th and 19th century crossdressers

Linda Collison Why did Linda love this book?

It took Americans a very long time to honor the ordinary foot soldiers and seamen of the Revolution. It took even longer to recover the women of the Revolution, historian Alfred F. Young tells us. The author parses through various historical records to present a realistic picture of the female soldier Deborah Sampson. Deborah was not the only woman to volunteer as a soldier – dressed as a man. Her record was exemplary. Sampson became known only after the war was over, and then only to a few people. This biography is among the most thorough of crossdressing fighting women, and it gives a good picture of colonial life at the time of the American Revolution. 

By Alfred F. Young,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Masquerade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Masquerade, Alfred F. Young scrapes through layers of fiction and myth to uncover the story of Deborah Sampson, a Massachusetts woman who passed as a man and fought as a soldier for seventeen months toward the end of the American Revolution.

Deborah Sampson was not the only woman to pose as a male and fight in the war, but she was certainly one of the most successful and celebrated. She managed to fight in combat and earn the respect of her officers and peers, and in later years she toured the country lecturing about her experiences and was partially…


Book cover of Flying Cloud: The True Story of America's Most Famous Clipper Ship and the Woman Who Guided Her

Darlene Marshall Author Of Sea Change

From my list on women at sea through history (including some pirates).

Who am I?

I picked these books because I love telling stories about bold women, and pirates float my boat. Being able to incorporate so much of history into my seafaring women, making them real and believable, makes writing that much more enjoyable. When I can incorporate real historical tidbits into my work it’s a good writing day, and I wanted to share my favorite research books with other readers. 

Darlene's book list on women at sea through history (including some pirates)

Darlene Marshall Why did Darlene love this book?

When we think of seafarers’ wives, too often we envision them up on lonely widow’s walks, looking out to sea and waiting for their men to return. We don’t think of them as heroines in their own right, but Eleanor Creesy was an exceptional woman by any standard. Eleanor grew up in the New England fishing center of Marblehead, Massachusetts, and studied weather, the ocean, and astronomy in the mid-19th century. When her husband became captain of The Flying Cloud on its maiden voyage, he took Eleanor along so he could utilize her expertise and she rose to the occasion, setting the world record for navigating a clipper ship from New York to California. Her ship would have been known as a “hen ship” because the captain’s wife sailed with him, but her own story deserves to be told and is captured in this engrossing history.

By David W. Shaw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flying Cloud as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1851, Elanor Creesy, in a position almost unheard of for a woman in the mid-nineteenth century, served as the navigator on the maiden voyage of the clipper ship Flying Cloud -- traveling from New York to San Francisco in only eighty-nine days. This swift passage set a world record that went unbroken for more than a century. Upon arrival in San Francisco, Flying Cloud became an enduring symbol of a young nation's frontier spirit. Illustrated with original maps and charts as well as historical photographs, David Shaw's compelling narrative captures the drama of this maritime adventure.


Book cover of The Lady Tars: The Autobiographies of Hannah Snell, Mary Lacy and Mary Anne Talbot

Linda Collison Author Of Star-Crossed

From my list on 18th and 19th century crossdressers.

Who am I?

The custom of Masquerade, of dressing as Other, has long fascinated me. In writing Star-Crossed, I set out to investigate how and why one girl might pass as a boy in an era when gender roles were sharply differentiated. I once crossed an ocean working aboard a wooden, three-masted ship – a 20th-century replica of the Bark Endeavour, circumnavigating in 1999. Sleeping in hammocks and working aloft in the rigging, I discovered this life required teamwork, stamina – and a sturdy, practical costume. Trousers, not petticoats! I have worked as a registered nurse and I earned a degree in History; these experiences combine in Star-Crossed. 

Linda's book list on 18th and 19th century crossdressers

Linda Collison Why did Linda love this book?

Perhaps the most famous of the 18th-century crossdressers is Hannah Snell. Hannah was a British woman who passed as "James Gray" and became a marine in the Royal Navy, following the death of her infant daughter. During her military career of more than four years she was wounded in battle and later was officially recognized and pensioned for her service. Hannah's is only one of at least twenty authentic accounts of females serving aboard Royal Navy ships, according to editor Tom Grundner, who writes the preface to The Lady Tars; the Autobiographies of Hannah Snell, Mary Lacy and Mary Anne Talbot. Three entertaining, informative accounts in one book.

By Hannah Snell, Mary Lacy, Mary Anne Talbot

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lady Tars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Out of Print for over 200 Years, the original text of three of the most remarkable naval biographies ever written.

We know that women served as sailors in the Royal Navy as early as 1650. Unfortunately, what little we know of these women is based largely on second- and third-hand accounts and deductions. In general, few seamen (and even fewer sea-women) knew how to write. As a result, there exists no first-hand, autobiographical, accounts—with three exceptions.

Three women—three lady tars—left memoirs of their experiences serving as men in the Royal Navy.

Hanna Snell (1723-1792) originally joined the army but deserted…


Book cover of The Perfect Gentleman

Alina Rubin Author Of A Girl with a Knife

From my list on making you glad for modern medicine.

Who am I?

Stuck at home during the pandemic, I started watching historical fiction and fell in love with the British miniseries, Hornblower. Suddenly I found myself writing my own stories about an imprisoned midshipman and Ella Parker, a surgeon that saves him. But there was a plot hole. Women could not be doctors in 19th-century England, leave alone ship surgeons. Thus, I sent Ella into medical school disguised as a man, and Hearts and Sails series was born. Looking for interesting cases for Ella to observe and treat, I became obsessed with the history of modern medicine. I also wanted my character to overcome great obstacles and eventually prove to others what a woman can do.

Alina's book list on making you glad for modern medicine

Alina Rubin Why did Alina love this book?

I’m often asked if Ella Parker is based on Dr. James Barry. She’s not. But I was glad to confirm that history recorded at least one woman was able to disguise herself as a man and become a distinguished doctor. The biography of Dr. Barry is intriguing, well-written, and shows how brilliant and mysterious an individual he was. The best find for me was the list of classes Barry attended at the University of Edinburgh. I sent my main character into the same classes, including the optional midwifery, and the private class with a prestigious teacher. This biography gave me many answers about this remarkable doctor, but also left me with questions. 

By June Rose,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Perfect Gentleman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

James Barry was one of the most outstanding doctors of the nineteenth century – a brilliant surgeon, a tireless campaigner for medical reform, and a compassionate Inspector-General of the Army.

But throughout a long and distinguished career an air of secrecy, even of scandal, always clung to Barry. The shrill voice, the diminutive build, the almost ostentatious humanity – all struck a discordant note in the stiff, conventional world of the officers’ mess. Only after the doctor’s death in 1865 did the incredible truth come to light:

Dr. James Barry was a woman.

What was her real identity? How did…


Book cover of Monsieur D'Eon is a Woman: A Tale of Political Intrigue and Sexual Masquerade

Linda Collison Author Of Star-Crossed

From my list on 18th and 19th century crossdressers.

Who am I?

The custom of Masquerade, of dressing as Other, has long fascinated me. In writing Star-Crossed, I set out to investigate how and why one girl might pass as a boy in an era when gender roles were sharply differentiated. I once crossed an ocean working aboard a wooden, three-masted ship – a 20th-century replica of the Bark Endeavour, circumnavigating in 1999. Sleeping in hammocks and working aloft in the rigging, I discovered this life required teamwork, stamina – and a sturdy, practical costume. Trousers, not petticoats! I have worked as a registered nurse and I earned a degree in History; these experiences combine in Star-Crossed. 

Linda's book list on 18th and 19th century crossdressers

Linda Collison Why did Linda love this book?

Who was s/he – a man, a woman masquerading as a man, or a gender fluid person?

The Chevalier d'Eon was a French courtier and diplomat, decorated military officer, writer – and a cross-dressing spy for Louis XV in a clandestine foreign policy organization known as the Secret du Roi. A well-researched account, Kates' political "thriller" is quite unlike any other crossdresser's biography I've read; it kindles a conception of 18th-century gender fluidity that reflects perception, influence, and political power in a European age when clothes indeed, made the man.

By Gary Kates,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Monsieur D'Eon is a Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born in 1728, French aristocrat Charles d'Eon de Beaumont had served his country as a diplomat, soldier, and spy for fifteen years when rumors that he was a woman began to circulate in the courts of Europe. D'Eon denied nothing and was finally compelled by Louis XVI to give up male attire and live as a woman, something d'Eon did without complaint for the next three decades. Although celebrated as one of the century's most remarkable women, d'Eon was revealed, after his death in 1810, to have been unambiguously male. Gary Kates's acclaimed biography of d'Eon recreates eighteenth-century European society…


Book cover of Seafaring Women: Adventures of Pirate Queens, Female Stowaways, and Sailors' Wives

Laura Nelson Author Of The Water Tiger

From my list on pirates (fact and fiction).

Who am I?

My interest in pirates began after attending the Real Pirates exhibit in Denver, Colorado, in 2011. All I can say now is that while I walked through the exhibit, I felt as though the pirates were personally speaking to me, asking me to tell the world their stories. I wrote several non-fiction articles about some of the men who sailed with Sam Bellamy on the Whydah Galley, the vessel featured in the exhibit. The writing and research were fun and fulfilling. In the last few years, I moved into fiction because I like reading fantasy myself and I wanted to explore the freedom of writing without having to document everything I wrote about.

Laura's book list on pirates (fact and fiction)

Laura Nelson Why did Laura love this book?

This book is for those who want to read verified facts about women during the age of wooden sail.

It is both entertaining and informative. For many of the chapters, the author gives you the “popular” tale, then tells you what really happened. It’s a good book for those who want to read about strong women, some of whom really did “go to sea,” during a period of time when women had few rights and few opportunities outside of the home.

By David Cordingly,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Seafaring Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For centuries, the sea has been regarded as a male domain, but in this illuminating historical narrative, maritime scholar David Cordingly shows that an astonishing number of women went to sea in the great age of sail. Some traveled as the wives or mistresses of captains; others were smuggled aboard by officers or seamen. And Cordingly has unearthed stories of a number of young women who dressed in men’s clothes and worked alongside sailors for months, sometimes years, without ever revealing their gender. His tremendous research shows that there was indeed a thriving female population—from pirates to the sirens of…


Book cover of In Nelson's Wake: The Navy and the Napoleonic Wars

Roger Knight Author Of Convoys: The British Struggle Against Napoleonic Europe and America

From my list on history to change your ideas on the Napoleonic Wars.

Who am I?

For fifty years I've studied the British sailing navy, fascinated by its workings, the slow communications, the vagaries of the winds and tides. In parallel with my work in archives, I've sailed in most of the European waters described in Convoys. I worked at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, for 27 years, leaving as Deputy Director in 2000. Since then, I've taught postgraduates and written about Nelson and the British government (Britain against Napoleon), and became convinced that Britain came very close to being defeated by Napoleonic France. If Napoleon had not thrown it all away by his invasion of Russia in 1812, I might be writing this in French, with a very different script! 

Roger's book list on history to change your ideas on the Napoleonic Wars

Roger Knight Why did Roger love this book?

It is an extraordinary fact that no one had written a book on the naval war after 1803 for nearly two hundred years.

In the same time period, hundreds of books have covered Trafalgar and Nelson, and some good books have appeared on parts of the war. But until James Davey’s extensive documentary research in this book, nobody had seen it as a whole. Engagingly written, full of telling stories, this tells the story of a worldwide war.

By James Davey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Nelson's Wake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Battles, blockades, convoys, raids: how the indefatigable British Royal Navy ensured Napoleon's ultimate defeat

Horatio Nelson's celebrated victory over the French at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 presented Britain with an unprecedented command of the seas. Yet the Royal Navy's role in the struggle against Napoleonic France was far from over. This groundbreaking book asserts that, contrary to the accepted notion that the Battle of Trafalgar essentially completed the Navy's task, the war at sea actually intensified over the next decade, ceasing only with Napoleon's final surrender.

In this dramatic account of naval contributions between 1803 and 1815, James…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the British Royal Navy, cross-dressing, and piracy?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the British Royal Navy, cross-dressing, and piracy.

The British Royal Navy Explore 58 books about the British Royal Navy
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