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In Book

Year range (click and drag or enter numbers to filter -- negative numbers are BCE):


This Armenian folktale princess saved her hapless beau - by making him get a job.

Soraya Tarzi

1920s Afghanistan was a progressive and rapidly-modernizing country in large part to the most powerful, empathic, and maligned queen it had ever seen.


When Rome set its eyes on her country, this one-eyed queen fought them tooth and nail, until they left her alone.

Kate Leigh and Tilly Devine

America had Al Capone. Sydney had Kate Leigh and Tilly Devine - who *hated* each other.

Vasilisa Vasilyevna

When the Tsar became hellbent on nailing down her gender, this clever gender-nonconforming heroine kept him guessing to the end.


When an oppressive regime threatened her home, this Samoan war goddess took matters into her own hands.


When her husband was killed by conquistadors, this native Chilean showed the Spanish what "fight like a woman" really means.


When she came face-to-face with a great monster, this mother saved her child and herself through bravery, quick thinking, and great culinary skills.


When her brother was killed, this pharaoh took her time cooking up revenge.

Isabella of France

After years of neglect and abuse from her husband, this queen raised an army and took over England for herself.

Mary Anning

When her father died, leaving her lower-class family in debt, this indomitable woman worked tirelessly and became one of history's greatest fossil collectors.


When an enemy killed her husband, this Apache woman broke the rules of her tribe to get revenge - and in so doing, became one of her tribe's greatest heroes.

Jeanne de Clisson

When her husband was unjustly executed, this French noblewoman-turned-pirate became the terror of France.

Sor Juana Inés de La Cruz

This brilliant poet rose from illegitimacy and poverty to become one of the luminaries of her age - until she flew too close to the sun.


Abandoned and imprisoned, this real-life Amazon took back the life she had stolen away.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko

When her beloved college of history was bombed by the Germans, this woman began a dark path that would see her become history's deadliest female sniper -- and one of Eleanor Roosevelt's best friends.

Taytu Betul

This stubborn empress led her native Ethiopia to do the unthinkable - defeat one of the major European powers in war.

Kate Shelley

To save an oncoming passenger train, this 15-year-old girl climbed across a collapsing bridge, with nothing but flashes of lightning to keep her from falling to her death in the flooding river below -- a river that had already killed her father.

The Mirabal Sisters

When a cruel dictator ruined this Dominican Republic family, these sisters gave their lives to end his.

Jackie Mitchell

In 1931, a seventeen-year-old girl struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in front of a crowd of thousands -- and then was benched into obscurity.

Sophie Morigeau

The only use this Canadian badass had for pretty pink bows was to adorn her own rib — which she amputated from her own body after an accident.


When her father decided to marry her, this leather-clad princess embarked on one of the most bonkers Cinderella tales ever told.

Micaela Almonester

After decades of gaslighting and emotional abuse at the hands of her in-laws, this iron-willed woman survived being shot four times point blank, won a separation from her husband, and became one of the most respected business icons in New Orleans.

Isabel Godin des Odonais

To reunite with her husband, she went on a months-long trek through the jungle -- and was the only survivor.

Rosalind Franklin

The three men who accepted the Nobel Prize for "the most important scientific discovery of the 20th century" neglected to mention one thing: they owed much of their success to one brash, brilliant, and overlooked female scientist.

Stephanie St. Clair

This audacious black gangster fought the Italian mob for control of Harlem and won, taunting them in full-page newspaper ads as she went.

Onorata Rodiani

When an unrequited admirer began threatening her, this early fresco painter became one of history's first warrior artists.


3rd century Rome had a major woman problem. Her name was Zenobia, and she took over a huge chunk of their empire in her brief and tumultuous career as rebel queen.

La Llorona

Mexico's infamous "weeping ghost" has many incarnations: a jilted widow, a slave princess, a milk addict, a coffee bag, and a pair of panties.


To ensnare the scheming ministers who were ruining her life, this princess used guile, cunning, and a sophisticated knowledge of civil engineering.

Freydís Eiríksdóttir

When attacked by Native Americans, this pregnant viking bared her chest, brandished a sword, and took them on by herself. And she won.

Rebecca Lukens

First her father died. Then her sons. Then her husband. Pregnant, saddled with debt, a failing company, and an overbearing mother, Rebecca Lukens rolled up her sleeves and showed the world what she was made of: iron.

Constance Markievicz

Socialite turned sniper turned socialist politician - Ireland's first woman elected to office had quite a life.


This unlikely heroine created her own Woman's Army of 70,000 soldiers through good manners and political savvy - and then used it to overthrow one of China's greatest douchebags.

Nana Miriam

When a firebreathing shapeshifting hippo menaced her people, this shaman faced it down in a magic battle - and then hurled it into space.

Mekatilili wa Menza

When colonial powers went too far, she rebelled in the most stylish way possible: dancing from town to town. It was surprisingly effective.

Princess Pyeonggang

This princess held her father to his word in the most unexpected way: by demanding to marry the stupidest man in Korea.

Ida Laura Pfeiffer

Starting her travels at 45 years old, this globetrotter became a worldwide sensation for going boldly where no woman had gone before.

Sonya Golden Hand

Russia's greatest female thief was so slippery that even once she was re-captured after escaping from a Siberian prison, nobody was totally sure it was her.

Zelia Nuttall

This single mom developed the field of Mexican archaeology, while fiercely protecting it from the sleazy and opportunistic.


The "panther queen" of the Azna defeated some of the greatest villains of French colonial history through wits, cunning -- and possibly magic.

Manuela Sáenz

This revolutionary heroine of South America kept a pet bear, a disembodied moustache, and a lifestyle that defied every convention possible.

Sigrid the Haughty

When some scrubs hit on her, she burnt them alive. When a king slapped her across the face, she obliterated his kingdom. Sigrid the Haughty was not to be messed with.

Banu Goshasp

This superhero of early Iranian mythology starred in her own stories, and plenty of them.


When flying cannibal ghosts kidnapped two women, there was no man that could save them. But there was a woman.

Kumander Liwayway

When the Japanese invaded the Philippines, this beauty queen traded face powders for explosive ones.

Nia Ngao Zhua Pa

This Hmong morality tale shows how to be a good person, but it certainly takes some twists getting there.

Annie Jump Cannon

This astronomer threw off all the social conventions of her day to pursue her one true calling: the stars.

Li Chi

When a monster demanded teenage girl sacrifice, Li Chi saved herself, and was crowned princess for her troubles.


When horse-riding Spaniards invaded, she defied her tribe to befriend one of the abandoned horses, using her new bond to fight off the Spanish.


When her deadbeat brothers demanded the impossible, this South African princess carried through, and slayed a dragon.


This Indonesian queen ruled wisely and justly in life, and was deified as the embodiment of all evil after her death. The story of why gets a bit complicated.

Isabelle Eberhardt

This undefinable adventurer's life burnt bright but short: a wildcard of the Algerian revolution, she survived an assassination attempt by sabre, and died in a freak desert flood.

Tamar of Georgia

Saint, sovereign, and fiercely independent woman, she quashed two rebellions from her ex-husband, expanded her nation's borders, and ushered in a golden age.


The "Last of the Aboriginal Tasmanians" (she wasn't) used brains, brawn, and sheer will to carve a place for herself, even as the world was collapsing around her.


The first prosthetic limb in human civilization went to this ancient warrior queen. Or did it? The story is more complex than you might think.

Catalina de Erauso

After escaping from a convent, this swashbuckler had the strength to chase her dreams: which were apparently to drink, fight, and womanize.

Tsuruhime Ohori

When invaders threatened her island home, she declared herself a living god, raised an army, and fought them tooth, nail, and occasional grenade.

Onake Obavva

When enemies invaded her town while her husband was on lunch break, she grabbed a nearby pestle and saved the day by achieving the high score in soldier whack-a-mole.

Charlotte Badger

The first European woman to end up in New Zealand, Charlotte Badger was part pirate, part adopted Maori, and part mom. Which part is which is somewhat lost to history.


An Inuit woman so strong nobody could even beat her lice in arm-wrestling, her story just gets stranger the closer you look.

Masako Hojo

When her shogun husband cheated on her, she raised an army and destroyed the other woman's house. Later she deposed her incompetent son to become the first nun to rule Japan.


When this indigenous Brazilian warrior mermaid proved too awesome for her tribe, she just took up residence in the water, and started an aquatic harem of passers-by.

Hester Stanhope

100 years before Lawrence of Arabia, this British woman traveled the Middle East by herself, surviving shipwrecks, plagues, and Bedouin attacks in the process.

Ranavalona I

This brutal sovereign's reign saw her outlaw clapping, pioneer death by feet-kissing, and design giant weaponized scissors - but are we only getting one side of the story...?

Naziq al-Abid

She traded a life of privilege for one spent fighting for justice on both literal and political battlefields so tirelessly that even exiling her five times couldn't keep her down.


This Jewish-Ethiopian warrior queen took the throne, ended a millennium-old biblical dynasty, and caused a break in Ethiopia's history that has not healed to this day - or did she...?


The first female mathematician in recorded history, and one of the luminaries of the ancient world - but her grisly death at the hands of a mob was only the start of her troubles.


This legendary warrior queen killed 70,000 Romans, burnt London to the ground, and became the most famous headhunter of all time - and to this day, Britain loves her for it.

La Jaguarina

This undefeated half-Spaniard fencer was a household name in the 1800s - only to vanish into retirement (and obscurity) when she ran out of people to fight.


When the most powerful man in the world made plans on her country, she: turned down his marriage proposal, destroyed his armies, and defiled his head so famously that she became legend for centuries thereafter.

Ching Shih

Headed a squadron of 80,000 pirates, ruled the Chinese seas for two decades, and actually retired happily - but not before extorting a nice pension from the Chinese government.


Mythological Irish princess who was turned into a worm, butterfly, and a pool of water; who induced the strangest pregnancy since Jesus; and who may hold the key to understanding Ireland's history.

Noor Inayat Khan

Pacifist Indian princess who gave up everything of herself to hold the line in occupied Paris during World War 2.

Julie d’Aubigny

Sword-slinging, opera-singing bisexual rock star of the 17th century - who burnt down a convent to romance a nun and had to be pardoned by the king of France TWICE.

Shajar al-Durr

Muslim sultan who took the throne, defeated Louis IX in battle, ransomed him back to France for 30% of their GDP --- and did it all in secret.


The last Crow nation baté (Two Spirit mystic) in history, she earned her name -- which means "Finds Them and Kills Them" -- by tirelessly fighting to preserve her way of life.

Ida B. Wells

One of the first anti-lynching advocates, she risked her life for decades to report on the truth when nobody would believe her.

Elisabeth Bathory

Possibly the most prolific female serial killer in history, a primary inspiration for Dracula, one of the most reviled women in history, and, I argue, innocent.

Petra Herrera

Mexican revolutionary who bombed bridges, led hundreds of women into battle, and was instrumental in turning the tide of the war for the revolutionaries.


This undefeated warrior princess refused to marry unless her suitor could defeat her in wrestling - if he lost, he owed her 100 horses. In the end, she had 10,000 horses and no husband.


When her brother of this fairytale princess decided to marry her, she warded him off by cutting off her own hands. Then she gave birth to a dog. It got weirder after that.

Mai Bhago

This Sikh warrior saint led 40 deserters back into battle and in so doing, possibly saved her entire religion from extinction.

Wu Zetian

The only female emperor of China in history, her ruthless rise to power makes Game of Thrones look like a day at the beach.


The poster child for childhood abuse, nobody should ever make a kids' movie about her.

Mariya Oktyabrskaya

When her husband was killed in WW2, she sold all their belongings, bought a tank, named it Fighting Girlfriend, and started killing Nazis.


After being saved from demonic forces, this legendary Indian princess is then subjected to endless purity tests by her own husband. She eventually puts an end to his questions in a manner that surprised everyone.

Nzinga Mbande

When the Portuguese took the throne from her, this Angolan queen made a new one: out of her own servant. She then fled to the jungle, conquered a tribe of cannibals, and waged war on the Portuguese for so long that they gave up and left.


This mythical queen gave birth to the minotaur and cursed her unfaithful husband with the world's weirdest magic STD -- but was her whole story just a smear campaign?


Possibly the most cartoonishly evil woman to have ever existed, this Merovingian queen was an endless source of assassination attempts - including, on one memorable occasion, her own young daughter.

Corn Maiden

This mythical Native American woman saved her loved ones from starvation with delicious magical leprosy - a fact that led to, shall we say, complications.


The ghost of a tragically-murdered young child come back to haunt her mother in post-slavery America.


One of the greatest pharaohs to ever live, she built up Egypt so much that a generations-long sustained effort to erase her from history couldn't do the trick.

Neerja Bhanot

When terrorists hijacked her plane, she gave her life to save it, becoming the youngest recipient of India's highest honor.

Phoolan Devi

Born into the lowest rung of the caste system, this woman put decades of horrific abuse to an end by starting a bandit gang, laying waste to those who preyed on the less-fortunate, and getting a reputation as an incarnation of the goddess of destruction. After she gave herself up and spent some time in prison, she got out, ran for parliament, and won.


Sold into sexual slavery to Hernan Cortes, this maligned woman became his interpreter, and it was with her words that the Aztec Empire fell.


Somalia's ballsiest queen, she took power from men either figuratively or literally - by ordering much of the gender castrated. Hero or villain, depending on who's doing the telling, she remains one of Africa's most divisive figures.

Caterina Sforza

The illegitimate daughter of a minor noble, after losing her husband, she became one of the most powerful and fierce women in Italy - commanding troops, insulting Machiavelli, and fighting Cesare Borgia with unmatched ferocity.

Artemisia Gentileschi

One of the greatest painters of the baroque, she revenged herself on her rapist both in the court of law and in her powerful, grotesque, incredibly popular paintings that depicted his gruesome death.

Micaela Bastidas

The strident partner of the eponymously-named Tupac Amaru Rebellion of native peoples against the Spanish, she handled army and bureaucratic logistics with an unmatched efficiency. Cut Content: Tupac Amaru's Demands His demands were surprisingly minimal: he primarily wanted less enforced labor and a court closer to where he lived, so he wouldn't have to trek all the way out to Lima from the Andes.

Cut Content: Micaela's Graphic Death

Records say the Spanish cut out her tongue and then tried to use a garrote on her. Her neck proved too slender, however, so they used rope and then kicked her until dead. Tupac got off worse - after watching the executions of his family and having his tongue cut out, each of his hands and legs were tied to a different horse and he was literally pulled apart. In a shocking turn of events, the brutal slaughter of folk heroes did not achieve the desired goal of winning over the average Andean.

Empress Myeongseong

Picked to be an impotent figurehead, this savvy intellectual quickly learned how to play politics and modernized the nation to ward off invasion.

Marguerite de la Rocque

Stranded by her cruel relative on an abandoned Canadian island (literally named the Isle of Demons), she survived for two years by hunting animals and eventually made it back to France.


This legendary pockmarked poet sang truth to power and was killed for it, becoming an enduring symbol of resistance.

Joan of Arc

The infamous teen girl who helped end the Hundred Years War and save France - but do you know how she got to such prominence? This book has an answer, and it involves another powerful woman, operating behind the scenes...

The Night Witches

This all-female civilian volunteer unit of the WW2 Soviet military overcame a lack of training, equipment, and faith to pull off one of the greatest underdog feats in human history and in so doing become Germany's worst nightmare. Cut Content: Individual stories of Night Witches

Mariya Smirnova was a peasant from a village school who became a squadron commander. She was a nervous wreck before each of her 935 missions, and slept only two to four hours a day for the entirety of the war. When sent to a recreation facility to calm her nerves, she ran away to rejoin the Night Witches, because she couldn't stand others risking their lives while she did nothing.

Yevdokiya (Dusya) Nosal joined the unit after the maternity ward where she'd just given birth was bombed and her newborn son was buried in the rubble. She was shot and died mid-flight.

Irina Kashirina had to steer her plane home when her pilot, the aforementioned Dusya Nosal, was killed mid-flight. With Nosal slumped into her controls, Kashirina, with one hand, grabbed her by the collar and lifted her off the controls. She used the other hand to steer.

Nina Raspopova was born into famine and destitution. Barely able to enter technical school for engineering (she sat on the stairs for two months before being allowed in), she thereafter joined the Night Witches. One of her most harrowing experiences saw the entire floor of her cockpit blown away by a shell and her navigator shot in the neck. They landed the plane and the two had to walk back to the Soviet lines through mud and impassable roads -- in their socks. When they returned, the men at the infirmary allowed them ahead in line, possibly at the costs of their own lives. Another time, with the Germans closing in, she had to take off in an airplane which was missing half of one of the propellors. To balance it out, she knocked half of the other one off and narrowly held the plane together as she escaped.

Nadezhda Popova joined after the Germans killed her brother and converted her house into a Gestapo police station. She was one of the first recruits into the Night Witches, surviving some of the most dangerous missions -- she at one point returned from a sortie with 42 bullet holes in her plane, map, and helmet - but miraculously alive. She met her future husband in the war, and lived to the age of 91. Of the experience, she would later say: "I sometimes stare into the blackness and close my eyes. I can still imagine myself as a young girl, up there in my little bomber. And I ask myself, 'Nadia, how did you do it?'"

Yoshiko Kawashima

Bisexual cross-dressing spy princess of the Qing dynasty - a hero to some and unspeakable villain to others.

Qiu Jin

Revolutionary who martyred herself to help rid China of the Qing dynasty.

Cut Content: The Courtesans Who Helped Topple the Qing

Included as an aside in a handful of writeups on the fall of the Qing dynasty is a mention of the Chinese Women's Espionage Training Institute - an organization of Shanghai courtesans who trained spies to aid in bringing down the Qing dynasty. As they formed in the twilight days of the revolution, it's unclear how much effect they had, but they're worth recognizing regardless.

The last sentence of their manifesto: "What difference does occupation make when it is a question of duty?"


Roundly-despised and unfairly-maligned seductress of the bible who ran afoul of the wrong priests.

Marie Mancini

Joined her sister Hortense Mancini in escaping from an equally abusive marriage, making headlines (and trouble) all across Europe in the process.

Hortense Mancini

One of the most infamous libertines of the Renaissance, she cavorted all over Europe to flee her abusive marriage, lived a hedonistic life, and wrote memoirs under her own name - all in an attempt to win herself a divorce.


The actual hero of the Ali Baba myth, this slave girl saves the titular character by singlehandedly dispatching the forty thieves - without him even knowing.

Emmeline Pankhurst

This unassuming middle-aged woman became one of Britain's most notorious terrorists in her unyielding quest to win women the right to vote.

Anita Garibaldi

This heroine of South America and Italy fought in numerous civil wars alongside her husband, Giuseppe Garibaldi, often while pregnant or while carrying her children.

Princess Caraboo

This phony Asian royalty fooled rural England for some time - but the truth she was hiding was far darker.

Khawlah bint al-Azwar

When Byzantine forces captured her brother, this warrior poet donned the outfit of a black knight and went on a bloody rescue mission.


When this princess had her life ruined by an unstoppable warrior, she: became a fervent ascetic for years and got a divine boon; killed herself to reincarnate faster; came back as a man; and killed the man who'd wronged her, in the stunning climax of the world's longest epic poem. Cut Content: Trans Representation

The Mahabharata has an inconsistent attitude towards transfolk, possibly owing to its many versions, and likely due to it being long as hell and old as dirt. While Shiva, Sikhandi, Sikhandi's parents, and Sthuna (the yaksha [forest spirit] that Amba/Sikhandi swaps genitals with) are all totally cool with Amba/Sikhandi's gender fluidity, Sthuna's boss goes on a rant once he finds out what Sthuna's done. He says, "oh, worst of Yakshas, you have done what has never been done by anyone -- an unnatural, abnormal, simpleminded, underhanded act that deserves all the punishment I can think up, so no one else will ever do it." He then "curses" Sthuna to remain a woman. Complicating the Mahabharata's stance on gender yet further is the fact that the main character of the Mahabharata, Arjuna, spends a year of his life undercover as a woman in a harem, and is praised in extreme details for his cleverness in doing so. So, take what you will from all that?

Alice B. Clement

Chicago detective whose crime-busting exploits grew so popular she had her own newspaper series and starred in her own movie.

Dhat al-Himma

Sword-slinging Arabian heroine who stars as the heroine of an extremely long and entertaining epic tale.

Josephine Baker

Rose from dire poverty and violence to become the greatest black entertainer of all time - Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Angelina Jolie all rolled into one.


The world's fiercest all-female fighting force, and the incredible legend of how they rescued their deposed queen from slavery in Brazil.

Mata Hari

This amateur dancer escaped a life of abuse by pretending to be an Indonesian princess - and eventually became a victim of the maniacal world of espionage.

Olga of Kiev

Brutal princess-turned-Christian saint who burnt down enemy towns using pigeons.

A’isha bint abi Bakr

Independent, bold wife of the Prophet Muhammad, she led armies in the Battle of the Camel and was one of the central figures of the Shia/Sunni civil war that continues to this day. (Note: this entry's image follows Islamic artistic conventions to depict its figures respectfully)

Anne Hutchinson

This uneducated rebel preacher upstaged New England magistrates so much that they founded Harvard University in part to prevent women like her from gaining power.

Harriet Tubman

Escaped slave turned slave rescuer turned plantation-torching Union spymaster, she was part Moses, part Joan of Arc, part Spider-Man.

Christine de Pizan

When her husband unexpectedly died, she rolled up her sleeves and became one of the greatest authors of the age to keep food on the table. She wrote passionate defenses of her gender (and military treatises!) that were centuries ahead of their time.

Laskarina Bouboulina

Born in a prison cell, this revolutionary financed and led a large chunk of Greece's navy to victory in their fight for independence.

Ada Lovelace

History's first computer programmer, who invented algorithms for the first computer - which didn't even exist during her lifetime, so she had to do it all in her head.

Wallada bint al-Mustakfi

Spirited poetry-spouting princess who lived an audacious life and put her cheating lover on blast with her expert slam poetry.


Saved the Jewish people by hammering a tent spike through an unsuspecting house guest's head.

Rani Lakshmibai

Widowed young queen who led a fearsome rebellion against the British with her child tied to her back.


Sex worker who became empress of the Byzantine Empire, and used her political power to safeguard her interests, and her husband's reputation.

Tomoe Gozen

Fearsome undefeated samurai warrior who was "a match for any god or demon," and is one of Japan's greatest heroines to this day.


Chaste and virtuous woman spends life assuming she's better than her more sex-positive neighbor, and for this haughtiness becomes in death a demonic woman who lures wayward men to their death - a stunning indigenous inversion of the Madonna/whore complex.

Nanny of the Maroons

Led colony of escaped slaves and protected them from the English using borderline supernatural abilities.

Nana Asma’u

Massively educated princess who started all-female gang of itinerant teachers, who would roam the land and educate unsuspecting passersby.

Chiyome Mochizuki

Recruited widows, orphans, and prostitutes into an all-woman ninja spy group, the largest in Asia at the time.

Josefina Guerrero

Let her leprosy go untreated for years to make herself the perfect spy in the Japan-occupied Philippines - soldiers wouldn't touch her, so she could slip right through.

Mary Lacy

This self-described "undutiful daughter" posed as a man to become the world's first female shipwright.


Instigated a massive "women's war" against British taxation, the effect of which was one part protest movement, one part comedy roast, and one part block party.

Pope Joan

This pope was largely assumed to be male until she gave birth in the midst of a procession - and largely assumed to be factual until the 13th century.

Mary Bowser

Brilliant undercover spy who posed as a slave to spy on - and attempt to burn down - the Confederate White House.

The Valiant Ladies of Potosi

Eustaquia de Souza and Ana Lezama de Urinza, two sword-and-gun-toting lesbian teen vigilantes - 17th century Bolivia's answer to Batman.

Gertrude Bell

Tossed off the expectations of Victorian society to become an expert mountaineer and archaeologist, traveled the Middle East by herself - later teaching Lawrence of Arabia how it's done - and became one of the most influential women in the English empire, advocating loudly for Iraq's self-governance.

Yaa Asantewaa

As an old woman, led an incredibly successful rebellion against British colonialism, known as The War of the Golden Stool, or the Yaa Asantewaa War.

Trung Trac and Trung Nhi

Sisters who led an army on elephant-back to overthrow oppressive Chinese rule and establish a short-lived Vietnamese kingdom.

Elizabeth Bisland

Rose from poverty to become a respected journalist who raced Nellie Bly around the world.

Nellie Bly

Daring journalist who infiltrated insane asylums, exposed slavery rings, and raced around the world in under 80 days.

Moll Cutpurse

Cross-dressing Queen of Thieves who flouted social norms and had plays written about her.

Matilda of Tuscany

Fiery defender of the pope who made kings kneel before her.

Sayyida al-Hurra

Indomitable pirate queen who ran Morocco and ruined Portuguese trade.

Gracia Mendes Nasi

Jewish businesswoman who saved thousands of Jews from the Inquisition by smuggling them out of the country.

Katie Sandwina

Champion weightlifter, suffragette, mom - this "Lady Hercules" did it all.


United Hawaii under one rule, abolished ancient taboos, and led negotiations with the fledgling United States.

Emmy Noether

Revolutionized the field of mathematics, yet was persecuted for being Jewish and paid a pittance for her visionary teaching work.

Tin Hinan

The greatest leader of the nomadic Tuareg tribe of northern Africa, who put their men in veils and let their women run the show.

Jane Dieulafoy

A phenomenally successful archaeologist who became a fashion icon for wearing men's clothing.

Marie Marvingt

Ludicrously over-accomplished athlete who invented flying ambulances and won the only gold medal ever awarded by the French Academy of Sports for "all sports" - yes, all of them.


The first naval admiral of modern times, she protected her country from foreign invaders with aplomb. Cut Content: The Holes in This Story

In the Summer 2008 newsletter for the International Institute for Asian Studies, Elsa Clave-Celik argues that much of what we know about Keumalahayati - and many other Indonesian heroines like Cut Nyak Dhien and Cut Meutia - is a romantic fabrication. Going back to some of the Dutch sources for these tales, she points out that there's little evidence Keumalahayati fought the Houtmans directly.

Clave-Celik puts forward that much of the stories about said heroines are distant echoes of one of the heroines of Indonesian/Hindu mythology: Amba/Sikhandi, written about elsewhere in the Rejected Princesses book. She points out that the template of warrior widow-martyrs of noble birth fits comfortably into a narrative that Indonesian and even Dutch societies were comfortable with - she specifically points to Dutch novelist and children's book author Marie van Zeggelen as the source of much of Keumalahayati's mythologization.

Women who do not fit this mold, she shows, do not get the same heroic treatment. Indonesian commoners and foot soldiers like Pocut Meurah Intan and Pocut Baren, who fought but also received medical aid from the Dutch -- Baren was an amputee! -- do not receive the same warmth from the history books. Something to keep in mind while reading through the rest of the Rejected Princesses book - what stories are advancing what agendas? What's been vilified and for what reason? What's been left out?

Stay tuned to Rejected Princesses Volume 2 for the answer![1. Just kidding. There is no Volume 2. Yet.] 


Viking princess who decided she'd rather be a pirate than get married.


Black, Muslim warrior queen of a tribe of griffin-riding Amazons - and the honest-to-god namesake of California.

Wilma Rudolph

Overcame polio, poverty, measles, mumps, scarlet fever, racism, whooping cough, and teenage pregnancy to make Olympic history by winning three gold medals.


An unbeatable warrior princess who just wanted to have kids - and founded a new nation in her quest to do so.

“Stagecoach” Mary Fields

Pistol-packing, liquor-swigging, 6'2" black postal carrier/babysitter of the Wild West.

Grace O’Malley

Irish pirate queen who led decades of rebellions against England, met face-to-face with Elizabeth I, and got official license to continue her piracy.

Florence Nightingale

One half of the odd couple of Crimean nursing - the by-the-book Victorian rebel who revolutionized the field of medicine who stood in stark to Mary Seacole's jolly reliance on folk remedies and home comforts.

Mary Seacole

One half of the odd couple of Crimean nursing - the jolly black businesswoman who swore by folk remedies, in stark contrast to Florence Nightingale's by-the-book Victorian approach to medicine.


Indigenous lawmaker who united warring tribes under a unified code of laws that she made herself.

Kurmanjan Datka

A clever woman who rose from obscurity to become a political force, playing nations against each other to protect her people.

Sybil Ludington

To warn against the incoming British, this teen girl staged her own midnight ride - far longer and more dangerous than Paul Revere's.

Moremi Ajasoro

When a neighboring tribe threatened the Yoruba, this queen went undercover as a spy to find their weakness.

Te Puea Herangi

The reluctant royal who became the Maori's greatest leader. Cut Content: Accent Marks Unfortunately, the accent marks over the words "pākehā" and "Māori" didn't make it through the various stages of book editing intact - that's how they should be spelled!


After disguising herself as a man to be the physician women needed, she was put on trial - and won.


This goat-riding, spoon-wielding princess fought trolls to save her sister. 2


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