Bad girls from history Wicked or misunderstood?

Dee Gordon

Book - 2017

You won't be familiar with every one of the huge array of women featured in these pages, but all, familiar or not, leave unanswered questions behind them. The range is extensive, as was the research, with its insight into the lives and minds of women in different centuries, different countries, with diverse cultures and backgrounds, from the poverty stricken to royalty. Mistresses, murderers, smugglers, pirates, prostitutes and fanatics with hearts and souls that feature every shade of black (and grey!). From Cleopatra to Ruth Ellis, from Boudicca to Bonnie Parker, from Lady Caroline Lamb to Moll Cutpurse, from Jezebel to Ava Gardner. Less familiar names include Mary Jeffries, the Victorian brothel-keeper, Belle Starr, the American gam...bler and horse thief, La Voisin, the seventeenth-century Queen of all Witches in France but these are random names, to illustrate the variety of the content in store for all those interested in women who defy law and order, for whatever reason. The risqué, the adventurous and the outrageous, the downright nasty and the downright desperate all human (female!) life is here. From the lower strata of society to the aristocracy, class is not a common denominator. Wicked? Misunderstood? Nave? Foolish? Predatory? Manipulative? Or just out of their time? Read and decide.

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 920.72/Gordon Checked In
Barnsley, South Yorkshire : Pen & Sword History 2017.
Main Author
Dee Gordon (author)
Physical Description
148 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (page [143]) and index.
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Courtesans and Mistresses
  • Chapter 2. Madams, Prostitutes and Adulterers
  • Chapter 3. Serial Killers
  • Chapter 4. 'One Off' Killers
  • Chapter 5. Gangsters, Thieves and Con-Artists
  • Chapter 6. The Rebel Collection - Pirates, Witches, Megalomaniacs, Exhibitionists
  • Select Bibliography
  • Index
Review by Booklist Review

This survey of female villains from around the world is organized into chapters about madams, prostitutes, and adulterers; serial killers; one-off killers; gangsters and con artists; and pirates, witches, megalomaniacs, and other miscellany. In addition to famous names like Elizabeth Bathory, Lizzie Borden, Bloody Mary, Jezebel, and Cleopatra, there are plenty of the not-so-famous (but just as memorably twisted), including Christiana Edmunds, a nineteenth-century serial poisoner; Mary Blandy, who murdered her father in the eighteenth century because he disapproved of her lover; Alice Diamond, an early 20th century criminal mastermind; and Jane Shore, a king's lover who was accused of harlotry in the early-sixteenth century. The book is written in a lively prose style (similar in tone and subject matter to Tori Telfer's Lady Killers, 2017), and it's chock full of disquieting stories and truly twisted personalities. And there some quite surprising entries, too: readers will be interested to learn why, for example, actresses Ava Gardner and Lillie Langtry, as well as women's-rights ground-breaker Mary Wollstonecraft, appear in the book. A worthy addition to any library's true-crime section.--Pitt, David Copyright 2018 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

British historian Gordon delivers a slim yet rollicking survey of 100 female renegades, many of whom would otherwise remain on history's margins. Gordon categorizes her subjects by different aspects of notoriety and opens with sexual misconduct, focusing mainly on the class of women who consorted with the English royal family, including Camilla Parker-Bowles's ancestor Alice Keppel (1868-1947), the most enduring of King Edward VII's mistresses. Biographical sketches of mass murderers, such as the 19th century Mary Ann Cotton, known as the Black Widow, are separated from those of wives who took revenge on abusive husbands, such as "Killarney Kate," who fed her husband arsenic in 1935. Gordon rounds out the book with pickpockets, plunderers, gunslingers, and eccentrics such as Princess Caraboo, aka Mary Baker, an English servant who reinvented herself as a foreign princess. Newspaper clippings and photos of the subjects bring colorful characters, such as accused axe murderer Lizzie Borden and Bonnie Parker, to life. Dee provides no clear methodology for the selection process, and some choices, such as novelist Colette and actress Ava Gardner, are juicy nonconformists rather than evildoers. Still, this compendium of historical trivia is a lot of fun to read. (Dec.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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