This is a review by Randy L Harvey of the book, Pirate Queens – The Lives of Anne Bonny & Mary Read from Pen & Sword Books by author Rebecca Alexandra Simon.

Pirate Queens – The Lives of Anne Bonny & Mary Read


** Between August and October 1720, two female pirates named Anne Bonny and Mary Read terrorized the Caribbean in and around Jamaica. Despite their short career, they became two of the most notorious pirates during the height of the eighteenth-century Golden Age of Piracy. In a world dominated by men, they became infamous for their bravery, cruelty and unwavering determination to escape the social constraints placed on women during that time. Despite their infamy, mystery shrouds their lives before they became pirates. Their biographies were recorded in Captain Charles Johnson’s 1724 book, A General History of the Pyrates, depicting the two women as illegitimate women raised by men who, against insurmountable odds, crossed paths in Nassau and became pirates together. But how much is fact versus fiction?

This first full-length biography about Anne Bonny and Mary Read explores their intriguing backgrounds while examining the social context of women in their lifetime and their legacy in popular culture that exists to the present day. Using A General History of the Pyrates, early modern legal documents relating to women, their recorded public trial in The Tryal of Jack Rackham and Other Pyrates, newspapers and new, uncovered research, this book unravels the mysteries and legends surrounding their lives. **  

** Quoted from the book’s dust jacket.  


Pen & Sword Books has released Pirate Queens – The Lives of Anne Bonny & Mary Read as a 208-page hardback book.  Included with the text are black and white photographs with detailed captions.  It has a 2022 copyright, a publication date of May 6, 2022, and the ISBN is 978-1-5267-9130-6.


Prologue: Pirate Queens in History


Chapter 1     The Lawyer and the Maid

Chapter 2    Anne Bonny, a Not-So-Southern Lady

Chapter 3    The Widow and the Bastard

Chapter 4     Mary Read, the Soldier

Chapter 5     Anne Bonny, the Pirate

Chapter 6     Pirate Queens of the Caribbean

Chapter 7     The Trail of Anne Bonny and Mary Read

Chapter 8     Women’s Attraction to Piracy

Chapter 9     Conclusion 

Appendix I:  An Act for Suppressing Pirates in West Indies (1717)

Appendix II:  By His Excellency Woodes Rogers, Governour of New-Providence, a Proclamation, 1720

Appendix III:  Calendar if State papers, Colonial Series, Vol. 33 (1720-1721)

Appendix IV:  The Boston Gazette

Appendix V:  The Trail of Anne Bonny and Mary Read






Author Rebecca Alexandra Simon obviously went to great depths with her research, where there is little accurate historical information available and much of the ancient information is based on speculation and rumors, to provide a well written and informative text detailing Anne Bonny and Mary Read and related information and before, during, and after their time as female pirates during the golden age of piracy.  The text goes into great detail in all areas of the book as outlined on the contents page, please refer to the contents listing that I have provided for the areas that are covered through the book.  The text in the book is nicely written and well detailed. As I read through the text, I didn’t notice any spelling errors.   I did find one grammatical error in one of the photograph captions where it states, “over 100 years after he death” and it should read “over 100 years after her death”.  The error is minor and takes nothing away from the book, but I felt that I should mention my finding.  Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings.  I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be professional with their writing.  Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book detailing Anne Bonny and Mary Read and related information and insight of the golden age of piracy to their personal library will be pleased with this informative and interesting book.    


A total of 36 black and white photographs with detailed captions are included in this volume.  The Pen & Sword web site states that there are 40 black and white illustrations.  I counted and recounted and there are only 36.  So, the web site is in error when it states that there are 40.  Author Rebecca Alexandra Simon stuck to the title of the book and chose subject specific photographs and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book.  Some of the photographs are of period drawings and paintings and provide the reader with details of period weapons and clothing. The images are obviously not always in scale and 100% accurate but I personally feel that they still do their job of providing information as there was obviously no photography equipment of any type during that time period. So obviously, artists were free to use artistic interpretation when they created their paintings and illustrations.  The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable.  The majority, if not all, of the photographs will prove to be of interest anyone interested in the golden age of piracy, and more specifically Anne Bonny and Mary Read due to the details they contain.  


Rebecca Simon is a world-leading expert about pirates, their lives and their roles in colonies and communities. She earned her PhD at King’s College London, where she wrote a thesis about public executions of pirates and the struggle of British supremacy in the seventeenth and eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Maritime History, History Today and BBC History Revealed. Her first book, Why We Love Pirates: The Hunt for Captain Kidd and How He Changed Piracy Forever was published in 2020. Rebecca is a sought-after expert and has been interviewed for television programmes for the BBC, History Channel and Netflix and on podcasts such as History Extra, History Hit and You’re Dead to Me. Rebecca currently writes and teaches in Los Angeles. 


Pirate Queens ePub (20.4 MB)

Pirate Queens Kindle (45.0 MB)

Pirate Queens Audiobook (497.0 MB)


UK £20.00 / US $32.95

This book was provided to me by Casemate Publishers.  Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here on the KitMaker Network when you make your purchase.  Thank you.



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