15 Nov: The (Lady) Pirates of the Carribbean

Anne Bonny and Mary Read – the most notorious women to swashbuckle and plunder in the ‘golden age of piracy’ – were captured near Jamaica by pirate-hunter Jonathan Barnet on 8th November, 1720.

Disguised as men for most of their careers, they sailed (and cavorted) with Pirate Captain ‘Calico Jack’. But, when their crimes came to trial, they both avoided being sentenced to death by ‘pleading the belly’.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly speculate about how Bonny and Read were able to pass as men so convincingly; explain how they met in the ‘pirate republic’ of Nassau; and reveal why ‘Robinson Crusoe’ author Daniel Defoe may just be responsible for the enduring ‘Reader’s Wives’ version of Bonny and Read’s friendship…

CONTENT WARNING: reference to rape

Further Reading:

• ‘Comparing the Female Pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read’ (ThoughtCo, 2018): https://www.thoughtco.com/facts-about-anne-bonny-mary-read-2136281

• ‘How Anne Bonny and Mary Read Changed The Face Of Female Piracy’ (All That’s Interesting, 2018):


• ‘Behind the myth of a breast-baring pirate’ (BBC Reel, 2019): 

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