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Real ‘Pirate Women’ On The High Seas Of Old

A portion of the cover of "Pirate Women" by Laura Sook Duncombe. (Courtesy the Publisher)
A portion of the cover of "Pirate Women" by Laura Sook Duncombe. (Courtesy the Publisher)

With guest host Jane Clayson.

The stories of women pirates, legendary and real, who took to the seas for plunder, power, freedom!

As long as there have been ships sailing the seas, there have been pirates. Brazen, fierce, fearless thieves.  Captain Hook, Black Beard, Captain Sparrow.  But men were not the only swashbucklers. Female pirates plundered alongside them, sometimes even commanded them.  The unsung stories of seafaring women is now being told.  This hour On Point, the Pirate Queens who terrorized the seven seas.


Laura Sook Duncombe, author and writer. Author of the new book, “Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes and Privateers Who Ruled The Seven Seas.” (@LauraDuncombe1)

Ben Little, writer and consultant on maritime and naval issues. Expert on historical and modern piracy. Author of “The Golden Age of Piracy,” “How History’s Greatest Pirates Pillaged, Plundered and Got Away With It” and “Pirate Hunting,” among others. (@BenersonLittle)

From The Reading List

Rebellious: ‘Pirate Women’ is an Empowering Look at Badass Women Throughout History — “My desire in writing this book was to put these stories out there in order to stretch the definition of what it means to be a woman—to broaden the typical gender roles. I think it’s important to pay tribute to these women by remembering them as they were: good, bad, warts and all. Women aren’t angels, and these women exemplify that truth.”

VICE: The Pirate Women Who Made Blackbeard Look Like a Joke — “While names like Blackbeard, Captain Hook, Henry Morgan, and even the fictional Captain Jack Sparrow have lived on in infamy, notorious buccaneers and marauders like Cheng I Sao, who commanded more than 400 ships and 50,000 men off China in the early 19th century; Grace O’Malley, the Irish pirate who terrorized the British Isles in Elizabethan times; and Sayyida al-Hurra, pirate queen of the notorious Barbary Corsairs, have been largely ignored.”

Atlas Obscura: The Chinese Female Pirate Who Commanded 80,000 Outlaws — “Ching Shih unified her enormous fleet of pirates using a code of laws. The code was strict, and stated that any pirate giving his own orders or disobeying those of a superior was to be beheaded on the spot. The code was particularly unusual in its laws regarding female captives. If a pirate raped a female captive, he would be put to death. If the sex between the two was consensual, both would be put to death.”

Read An Excerpt Of “Pirate Women” By Laura Sook Duncombe


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