Beware the Women: the Depiction of Anglo-American Female Pirates in Popular Culture, 1721-1995
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Anne Bonny and Mary Read were female pirates who were active in the early-eighteenth century in the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. Little is known of the two women other than what was recounted in Charles Johnson’s 1724 A General History of the Pyrates. However, Anne and Mary have rarely left Western cultural consciousness since their final fates in 1721. As seafarers they were outsiders to mainstream culture, as pirates they were outsiders to sailors and then even more so as women. This thesis explores the many different ways in which these two women, in an entirely unique position as being outsiders thricefold, have been depicted in popular culture. I use the mechanisms of the heroine/harlot dichotomy, the process of mythologisation and visual portrayals to demonstrate how their depictions reflected and challenged contemporary ideas regarding gender, sexuality and morality, and how those ideas evolved over the centuries.