Laura Hillenbrand suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, which has largely confined her to her house for 25 years. Despite this, she's written two of the biggest best-sellers in modern history.
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Matilda of Tuscany
Fiery defender of the pope who made kings kneel before her.
This unassuming middle-aged woman became one of Britain's most notorious terrorists in her unyielding quest to win women the right to vote.
This "untouchable" woman ended decades of abuse by starting a bandit gang and avenging the lower castes. After some time in prison, she got out, ran for parliament, and won.
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.
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.
Abandoned and imprisoned, this real-life Amazon took back the life she had stolen away.
The ghost of a tragically-murdered young child come back to haunt her mother in post-slavery America.
Indomitable pirate queen who ran Morocco and ruined Portuguese trade.
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.
Juana Azurduy de Padilla
This revolutionary (and mother of five) should have been the namesake of Bolivia - and that's the opinion of Simon Bolivar, the actual namesake of Bolivia!