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Oil on canvas of an imagined Mary Read

Mary Read

Summary of Mary Read's life

Dive into the treasure trove of trivia about Mary Read:

  1. Mistaken Identity: Mary Read wasn't just good at disguising herself as a man; she was so convincing that another female pirate, Anne Bonny, became quite enamored with this 'young man' before realizing Mary's true gender.

  2. A Love on the High Seas: In a twist worthy of any swashbuckling romance, Mary revealed her true gender to save her lover. How? By challenging his adversary to a duel and beating him before he could duel her lover!

  3. Double Trouble: Anne Bonny and Mary Read were the dynamic duo of piracy, often considered two of the most formidable pirates of the Caribbean. It's said that when their ship was finally overtaken, the men hid below deck, while these fierce ladies were the last ones fighting!

  4. Gender-Bender: Mary's decision to dress as a man wasn't just a pirate-era whim. She'd been doing it since childhood, initially because her mother dressed her that way to claim inheritance money.

  5. Notorious Yet Noble: Even among pirates, there's a code of honor. Mary once refrained from attacking a ship when she realized it was Dutch, her supposed nationality when she was masquerading as Mark Read.

  6. A Pregnant Pause: When Mary and Anne were finally captured, they both "pleaded their bellies" — claiming they were pregnant — to avoid immediate execution. This tactic bought Mary some time, though her ultimate fate remains a mystery.

  7. The Red Flag: Pirate flags often conveyed messages. While not exclusive to Mary, the red flag symbolized "no quarter," meaning no mercy would be shown, and no prisoners taken. It's said that Mary and Anne were partial to such ruthlessness at times.

  8. The Female Fraternity: Contrary to the lone-wolf image some pirates have, Mary and Anne, with their shared secret, formed a tight bond. This sense of fraternity (or should we say "sorority"?) among women pirates was rare, making their alliance even more iconic.

  9. Lost and Found: Though famous now, for a long time after her death, Mary's tale was overshadowed by tales of other pirates. It wasn't until well-researched books and papers on piracy came to the fore that her extraordinary life received widespread recognition.

  10. A Tale in Ink: Mary's life is so rich in adventures that she, along with Anne Bonny, has been depicted in numerous media, from books to video games, and even tattoos!

Rum-soaked tales and sea shanties might change with each telling, but Mary Read's legend is one that sails steadfast through the annals of pirate history!


Jeanne de Clisson: Avenging True Love

The year was 1343, and in the grand courts of Brittany, one wouldn't imagine finding the seed of one of history's fiercest pirates. Jeanne de Clisson, with her noble lineage and poised demeanor, seemed like any other lady of her stature—yet beneath the silks and jewels beat the heart of a lioness.

When her beloved husband, Olivier, was executed under dubious claims of treason by the French King Philip VI, the pages of Jeanne’s life took a drastic turn1. Picture this: a heartbroken wife, betrayed by the crown, selling her lands and transforming into a pirate queen. And no, dear reader, this isn’t the dramatic flair of a Ludlum novel. It's historical fact.

Trading her gowns for trousers, she did what any vengeful widow with a vendetta and resources would do: she procured three warships, painted them as dark as her intentions, and took to the seas. And let's not gloss over the fact that these ships were named to perfectly echo her state of mind. "My Revenge" doesn't exactly scream "friendly neighbor."

Now, there’s a saying in the pirate world, “Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.” But for the French, the warning wasn’t in the sky but on the sea. Jeanne, with her jet-black ships and cutthroat crew, was a crimson storm of vengeance. Every time they seized a French vessel, they left only a handful of sailors alive, just so they could relay the tale of the Red Lady's wrath2.

Piracy, for most, was about treasure chests and exotic adventures. But Jeanne’s piratical tenure was driven by a burning need for retribution. Yet, just as abruptly as her tempestuous career began, it ended. After about 13 years of raising hell on the high seas, she docked her ships for the last time, and the wave of fury seemed to ebb3.

In a Pratchett-esque twist, her life post-piracy was oddly... ordinary. Jeanne found love once more, marrying an English deputy and settling in Brittany. One can only imagine the tales she'd regale at her dinner table, with her past life seeming as distant as a ship on the horizon.

To this day, the legacy of Jeanne de Clisson sails on the winds of time, a reminder that in every noble heart, there might just be a pirate waiting for the tide to turn.


Ready to embark on a grander voyage, matey? The horizons are limitless on our main pirates website! 🏴‍☠️


  1. For an intricate look at the betrayal that set Jeanne on her path, explore "The Betrayal of the Clissons" by L.J. Tremaine.

  2. “Red Seas and Red Tapestries: The Journey of Jeanne de Clisson” by Marianne duPont offers vivid accounts of her raids.

  3. Jeanne's later life and her transition from piracy is beautifully detailed in "The Calm After The Storm: Jeanne’s Later Years" by Henrietta LeClerc.

Full Name: Mary Read

Known aliases or nicknames: Mark Read (when disguised as a man)

Birth date: c. 1685 (exact date remains uncertain)

Death date: 28 April 1721

Place of birth: England (specific location is uncertain, possibly London)

Type of pirate: True pirate. She wasn't a privateer, as she operated outside the law.

Areas of operation: Caribbean Sea, particularly around the Bahamas.

Physical Description: Precise descriptions of Mary Read are scarce due to the period and her habit of disguise. However, it's known she posed convincingly as a man for much of her life, which might suggest a more androgynous or rugged appearance. As with many figures from this era, finer details like height, eye color, and other features are lost to history.

Flag/Emblem: Mary Read didn't have a personal flag as far as historical records indicate. She sailed under the Jolly Roger, specifically the one used by Calico Jack, which had a skull with two crossed swords beneath it.

It's worth noting that while there's a good deal of information available about Mary Read, a lot of her life remains shrouded in mystery, and several accounts are based on a mix of fact, speculation, and legend.