The best books about Anne Bonny

1 authors have picked their favorite books about Anne Bonny and why they recommend each book.

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The Queen of Swords

By R.S. Belcher,

Book cover of The Queen of Swords

I’ve been a fan of Anne Bonney (one of the most famous female pirates in history) since I was a kid. She strapped on a sword and went to sea at a time when women were expected to marry young and die in childbirth, so a story that sees her surviving the gallows was naturally going to appeal to me. There’s an ancient society of assassins fighting an age-old war, and a risky ocean voyage to rescue a kidnapped child and claim a legendary treasure hidden in a lost city of bones somewhere on the coast of Africa. Is it any wonder I was hooked? This is the third book in Belcher’s Golgotha series, but I think you could read it alone and enjoy the adventure.


Who am I?

I grew up on the coast of South Carolina, where many of the Golden Age pirates were welcomed as business associates and charming guests by some of the most influential people of the day. They are, to this day, considered local heroes. I read everything I could lay hands on about them, fiction and histories, and I knew my first book would have to be about the pirate I always pretended I could be, if I’d only been born two hundred years ago.


I wrote...

Mad Kestrel

By Misty Massey,

Book cover of Mad Kestrel

What is my book about?

In a world where infants with magical powers are torn from their parents to be raised by the mysterious and powerful Danisoba, who have a monopoly on magic, Kestrel has managed to keep her abilities concealed―and herself free.

As the quartermaster of a pirate ship, Kestrel loves the freedom of living on the seas. But her way of life could end if anyone on board learns her closely guarded secret. When Kestrel's captain is led into a trap and is arrested, she gathers her crew and sets sail in relentless pursuit, even knowing that revealing her own magic ability may be her only means to save him.

Women and English Piracy, 1540-1720

By John C. Appleby,

Book cover of Women and English Piracy, 1540-1720: Partners and Victims of Crime

Studies of early modern piracy often either focus on one or two exceptional women – Elizabeth I, Gráinne Ní Mháille, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read – or neglect women altogether. This book challenges assumptions about early modern women’s contribution to and involvement with piracy, exploring how female lives intersected with it in numerous and nuanced ways. Female family members often acted as receivers and dealers of stolen goods: their involvement shows agency in relation to piracy, though female victimization was also common. In fact, partnerships with women were part of the wider patterns of support pirates received from seafaring communities; familial relationships often triggered female involvement since economic integration and domestic connections were linked in the maritime world. Appleby suggests that due to the changing nature of piracy, female agency diminished by the end of the seventeenth century.


Who am I?

I’m a writer-researcher based at the University of East Anglia. My work is driven by a love of travel and the sea, and an interest in how people move between cultures and ideas across time. I’ve written widely on early modern travel writing and maritime culture, plays about cultural encounter including first contact, and the intersections between ideas about gender, race, colonial and/or imperial identities, and power. At heart, I’m a cultural historian interested in how people and writing can say one thing but mean another.


I wrote...

The Culture of Piracy, 1580-1630: English Literature and Seaborne Crime

By Claire Jowitt,

Book cover of The Culture of Piracy, 1580-1630: English Literature and Seaborne Crime

What is my book about?

Listening to what she terms 'unruly pirate voices' in early modern English literature, this study offers a compelling analysis of the cultural meanings of 'piracy'. By examining the often-marginal figure of the pirate (and the sometimes hard-to-distinguish authorized sea-raider – termed ‘privateer’ from the seventeenth century – who plundered with license), Jowitt shows how flexibly these figures served to comment on English nationalism, international relations, and contemporary politics.

Jowitt discusses depictions of pirates in public drama, broadsheets and ballads, prose romance, travel writing, and poetry from the fifty-year period stretching across the reigns of three English monarchs: Elizabeth I, James I, and Charles I. Despite its transgressive nature, early modern piracy also comes to be one of the key mechanisms which served to connect peoples and regions.

Under the Black Flag

By David Cordingly,

Book cover of Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates

David Cordingly’s book is useful for its accurate and lively attempt to separate pirate facts from public fiction. He sifts through childhood tales of wooden legs and parrots to highlight the harsh realities experienced by most of these violent rogues. The tortures he describes serve to remind the reader that these were desperate times full of volatile career criminals. And the women were often as dangerous as their male counterparts! While considering Anne Bonny and Mary Read, he questions “Were there other women pirates?” and “How was it possible for a woman to pass herself off as a man in the cramped and primitive conditions on board an eighteenth-century ship?” These prompts helped me to focus on the issues my own female protagonist would have to overcome during her nautical adventures. I recommend this book because it is informative, thought-provoking, and entertaining.


Who am I?

My fascination with pirates began as a student in Bristol (UK) – the legendary hometown of Edward Teach a.k.a. Blackbeard. Later, I visited the Pirates of Nassau Museum in the Bahamas and was amazed to learn there had been women buccaneers too. I wanted to discover more about these daring females and find out what might have enticed them to brave a tenuous life on the account. As fate would have it, I now live in North Carolina near the Outer Banks where Blackbeard met his fate. These experiences inspired me to write a different kind of adventure story about the real pirates of the Caribbean featuring a strong, resilient, swashbuckling female.


I wrote...

Fire on Dark Water

By Wendy K. Perriman,

Book cover of Fire on Dark Water

What is my book about?

Fire on Dark Water tells the story of Lola Blaise, a young gypsy woman destined to become one of the infamous Blackbeard’s many wives. Thrust into the brutal world of piracy she must use every hard-earned skill in her arsenal to survive, outwitting the surrounding cutthroats and rogues to finally become the master of her own destiny. Lola mingles with many well-known characters including Anne and Jim Bonny, Henry Jennings, Charles Vane, Calico Jack Rackham, and the crew of the Queen Anne’s Revenge as she weaves in and out of real historical events. She summarizes her life with this short confession: “I was Blackbeard’s thirteenth wife – and very unlucky for him.” 

A General History of the Robberies & Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates

By Captain Charles Johnson,

Book cover of A General History of the Robberies & Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates

It was long thought that Captain Charles Johnson was a pseudonym for Daniel Defoe (of Robinson Crusoe fame), the original pirate novelist. As such, this anecdotal collection of seafaring tales may be as close to historical “primary source” material as we can get! A General History has inspired several generations of nautical poems, plays, and novels about life on the account, including Fire on Dark Water. Captain Johnson’s classic book undoubtedly raised public awareness about the lives and loves of many buccaneers and it is still a fascinating read today.


Who am I?

My fascination with pirates began as a student in Bristol (UK) – the legendary hometown of Edward Teach a.k.a. Blackbeard. Later, I visited the Pirates of Nassau Museum in the Bahamas and was amazed to learn there had been women buccaneers too. I wanted to discover more about these daring females and find out what might have enticed them to brave a tenuous life on the account. As fate would have it, I now live in North Carolina near the Outer Banks where Blackbeard met his fate. These experiences inspired me to write a different kind of adventure story about the real pirates of the Caribbean featuring a strong, resilient, swashbuckling female.


I wrote...

Fire on Dark Water

By Wendy K. Perriman,

Book cover of Fire on Dark Water

What is my book about?

Fire on Dark Water tells the story of Lola Blaise, a young gypsy woman destined to become one of the infamous Blackbeard’s many wives. Thrust into the brutal world of piracy she must use every hard-earned skill in her arsenal to survive, outwitting the surrounding cutthroats and rogues to finally become the master of her own destiny. Lola mingles with many well-known characters including Anne and Jim Bonny, Henry Jennings, Charles Vane, Calico Jack Rackham, and the crew of the Queen Anne’s Revenge as she weaves in and out of real historical events. She summarizes her life with this short confession: “I was Blackbeard’s thirteenth wife – and very unlucky for him.” 

Pirate Queens

By Leigh Lewis, Sara Woolley (illustrator),

Book cover of Pirate Queens

This new book is a great example of how women pirates continue to captivate and inspire us. Leigh Lewis has created a truly unique hybrid of a poetry collection and historical text which is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It’s suitable for middle grade readers but enjoyable for all readers. I hope to see more from Leigh!


Who am I?

I have loved pirates since my first viewing of Mary Martin’s Peter Pan at age 5. My passion for learning about these outlaws led me to discover the hidden stories of women pirates—who have always sailed alongside their male counterparts yet never get the same glory. When I learned about Cheng I Sao, the greatest pirate who ever lived (who was a woman), I was so angry that her story wasn’t more well-known that I wrote a book about it! It has been a joy and an honor to share the stories of pirate women with the world and I have fully embraced my title of “crazy pirate lady.”


I wrote...

Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas

By Laura Sook Duncombe,

Book cover of Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas

What is my book about?

In the first-ever Seven Seas history of the world’s female buccaneers, Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas tells the story of women, both real and legendary, who through the ages sailed alongside—and sometimes in command of—their male counterparts. These women came from all walks of life but had one thing in common: a desire for freedom. History has largely ignored these female swashbucklers, until now. Here are their stories, from ancient Norse princess Alfhild and warrior Rusla to Sayyida al-Hurra of the Barbary corsairs; from Grace O’Malley, who terrorized shipping operations around the British Isles during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I; to Cheng I Sao, who commanded a fleet of four hundred ships off China in the early nineteenth century.

Bold in Her Breeches

By Jo Stanley (editor),

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

When I was a little girl I wanted to grow up to be a pirate, and women pirates in particular inspired me. They still do. This collection expands on some of the well-known pirates like Ann Bonny, Mary Read, and Grace O’Malley, and brings diversity with tales of non-European pirates who ruled fleets of ships. When I’m writing my pirates, I can look at the historical record and know that while my work is fiction, there’s plenty of historical evidence for women seizing command and carrying the day.


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. 


I wrote...

Sea Change

By Darlene Marshall,

Book cover of Sea Change

What is my book about?

David Fletcher needs a surgeon, stat! What he has is Charley Alcott, an apprentice physician captured by the American privateer and ordered to save Fletcher’s brother. Charley Alcott's medical skills are put to the test in a life-or-death situation, Charley's life as well as the patient's. There will be hell to pay – and maybe a plank to walk – when Captain Fletcher learns Charley is really Charlotte Alcott.

A war is raging on the world's oceans, and the two enemies will fight their own battles and their attraction to each other as they undergo a sea change neither of them is expecting, but cannot deny.

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