From building your own museum to top notch sofa friendly courses – we’ve got you covered
Right now the vast majority of us are in self isolation and social distancing ourselves from others. But just because you can’t leave your house and visit a museum, gallery or class, doesn’t mean that you can’t get your culture on!
In fact, the cultural world is at your fingertips and you can access it all from your sofa. Learn a new skill, uncover archives and explore the worlds best museums. How? Well to get you started we’ve popped together 5 of the best ways to get your cultural fix right now
1.Build your own museum
Yes. You read that right. Your own museum.
Art Stepsis a really easy to use app (it’s free for those wondering) that not only allows you to create your own museum but also to explore other self made galleries from around the world.
I stumbled across the app about a year ago when I used it to create an online museum of my work for a job interview (why yes I am that extra, thank you for asking) and I’ve been hooked ever since.
It’s kind of like if museum nerdom and sandbox gaming had a baby. What I’m saying is the possibilities are endless.
You can create anything you want. An exhibition you’ve always dreamt of, a retrospective you missed (or let’s be real, one you saw but kind of knew could be better). Hell, you could even create an online museum for a loved one. Stuffed full of their favourite artwork or goodies from a much thumbed through era, all for them to enjoy from the comfort of their sofa. The perfect pandemic gift.
Just to give you an idea of the ArtSteps interface – seriously it is stupidly easy to use
From street view tours of the worlds most incredible museum galleries, to exploring endless retrospectives of different work and diving into high res art work. You could spend the whole isolation period on this site and still never get bored. Seriously there are over 500 art institutions to digitally walk around – and that’s just the art galleries!
But the real jewel in the Google Arts and Culture crown has to be it’s archives collections.
Many were created to tie in with a major anniversary of history week and contain the highlights of museum digitised archives and collections from across the world, along with specially made videos.
It’s an ideal way to really delve into a subject matter and not only read about it, but really get hands on (admittedly through a screen, but still, it’s bloody fantastic!)
Speaking of archives, one of the many (many) great things the internet has given us is access to archives from across the globe. Now admittedly you used to have to order most archive resources but that’s not the case now.
This is 2020 and you better bet your bottom dollar that top quality shit is digitised.
If you’ve never tried out accessing archive records, now is a great time to learn how. After you’ve used Google Arts and Culture to get a feel of how to use archived resources, check out The National Archives and start searching for whatever takes your fancy.
They have over 32 million records from 1000 years of history, with some of that digitised (or described).
You could test out archive digging by searching for your family history, an area of local history you’ve always been interested in or something more broad, like passenger lists from The Titanic or military records.
Most libraries are now shut, but you can still borrow e-books, audio books and sometimes even magazines from the comfort of your sofa.
If you visit you’re local libraries website, then they’ll probably have a link to an online library like RBdigital, BorrowBox or Libby.
All you need to do is pop in your library card details and as if by magic you can download all the literary gems you might like to your phone or tablet.
Plus it’s all for free!
Now, as with any library, there aren’t infinite amount of books, so there may be a waiting list for what you initially want, but it’s also a great chance to explore types of books that you might not normally read.
Because as the old adage goes:
Everyday is school day, even when the schools are closed and even when you haven’t been to school in like…er, actually lets not get into how long it’s been since I graduated.
One of the best ways to spend isolation has got to be by learning a new skill or immersing yourself into an era of history you’ve always wanted to know more about.
My personal favourite place for online courses is Future Learn, which has some amazing free courses (as well as many that you need to pay for access to)
They’re put together by leading academics and universities, so there can be no quibbles over their quality. I’ve done their Tudor History course, which I can definitely recommend (it takes place over six weeks with five hours a weeks work). Oh and they even have a course on Covid-19, so you can become an expert and dispel all that BS you find on WhatsApp and Facebook.
The Open University also has over 1000 free courses that you can choose from. With a ton of amazing introductory history courses, as well as some for languages. Courses vary in length from one hour all the way up to thirty. So you can find something to fit whatever free time you have right now.
Plus the courses give you a certificate at the end, which is a handy way for you to show off all that new knowledge you’ve learnt.
I don’t know about you but I’m really excited to put all this into action, escape my sofa and explore a world of knowledge.
What was life actually like for suffragettes in prison? An in depth look from how it actually felt to be force fed, what was the Cat and Mouse Act and the constant abuse and surveillance the women endured.
A little more than 100 years ago, thousands upon thousands of women across the UK were tirelessly fighting; not only for women’s right to vote, but for women to have basic human rights.
Of this, a small chunk formed up the WSPU (Womens Social and Political Union) the militant arm of the Votes for Women fight, these women undertook illegal activities as part of their campaigning; smashing windows, vandalising property, even committing arson and organising targeted bombings.
This lead to many members of the WSPU (or as they were commonly known, Suffragettes) going to prison and in doing so, taking on a gauntlet of abuse designed to break them.
Here are 5 of the monumental barriers that were faced by suffragettes entering prison – and I guarantee by the time you finish reading them you will NEVER see the Votes for Women campaign in the same way:
1 . Life Long Illness
Whilst in prison, many incarcerated suffragettes chose to go on hunger strike, a move that was whole heartedly supported by the WSPU as a whole. Once released, suffragettes who had taken up hunger strike were celebrated; awarded with a medal which they’d wear with pride; a symbol of their sacrifice and a sign of respect amongst sisters.
But the personal impact of these women’s hunger strikes was more than a medal;many were left with long term health issues.
Believe me when I say, hunger striking does some serious damage to your body. Put bluntly, when you go on hunger strike you stop giving your body food and if you aren’t giving your body food, then it starts eating itself.
Muscle and fat are the first to go and after 1-2 weeks you can expect to have a lot of trouble doing something simple like standing, not to mention the high likelihood of uncontrollable (and very painful) vomiting. Should the hunger strike keep going, you can expect vision loss, hearing problems and you’ll struggle swallowing. Organs also start to be at risk of shutting down and by day 40, death is a very real threat.
Just to underline how horrific the effects of hunger striking are, here is a picture of Suffragette, Olive Wharry, after just over a month of hunger striking:
So it’s unsurprising that after leaving prison, it took weeks of bed rest and care for suffragettes to recover.
That meant that many women who had jobs and children to look after, simply couldn’t go on hunger strike. After all, there was no way that on their return from prison, they’d be able to work and care for kids in such a weakened state.
So we know that going on hunger strike just once will fuck up your body. But it wasn’t just once for these women.
Many suffragettes went on hunger strike several times over multiple stays in prison. That led to life long and often serious health problems.
And this all gets a whole lot worse when we factor in:
2 . Force feeding
Hunger striking was a deadly method of campaigning and the government couldn’t be seen to be letting suffragettes die. So they opted to ensure striking prisoners had enough nutrients by force feeding then.
I’m going to put a quick warning here, because – guys, force feeding was more than brutal.
Prison guards would force suffragettes into a bed or chair, where a tube would be inserted through the nose and down the throat, through which a nutritional paste would be sent.
This could happen every day for weeks.
Here’s how Sylvia Pankhurst described her experience of force feeding:
“I struggled as hard as I could, but they were six and each one of them much bigger and stronger than I…They soon had me on the bed and firmly held down by the shoulders, the arms, the knees and the ankles. I felt a man’s hands trying to force my mouth open, his fingers trying to press my lips apart — getting inside. I felt I should go mad; like a poor wild thing caught in a steel trap.”
Force feeding was essentially torture for the women that went through it. Many were left with physical injuries after the fact, including bruised jaws, broken teeth, bleeding gums and stomach pain from so much vomiting.
Not only that, but force feeding could be deadly. Suffragette Lilian Lenton almost died after the force feeding tube missed her throat and went straight into her airways.
Then in April 1913 The Cat and Mouse Act was put through
The Cat and Mouse Act offered a cruel new spin on the abuse Suffragettes were receiving.
Once substantially weakened from hunger strike, suffragettes were sent home. Only to be arrested and bought back to prison when they started to recover.
Which meant that they could go through the whole ordeal again, and again…and again.
And it wasn’t just this merry go round of abuse that the suffragettes had to face.
3 . Abuse by prison staff
Working class suffragettes often faced an even more gruelling prison experience. The best example of this is that of Lady Lytton. Upon hearing rumours of the rough time working class suffragettes had, she first went to prison as herself, an upper class Lady, and then took on the identity of seamstress, Jane Warton, for her second spell in prison.
Jane Warton’s time in prison was incomparable to Lady Lytton’s.
Jane was force-fed until she vomited over herself and then continued to be force-fed despite the sick that was now on her body, hair and even the prison walls.
Jane was slapped by a doctor. She almost died during another bout of force-feeding; a doctor listening to her heart, which was just about beating for 2 minutes… and then advising his assistants to continue with the feeding.
There were also accounts of working class suffragettes being force-fed via their vagina or anus. An act that would have provided absolutely no nutritional benefit. The pointless pain, degradation and violation of this assault, known to those who carried it out.
4 . Surveillance Reigns
Prison was used as a ground to monitor suffragettes movements and capture their images. After all, until arriving at prison, many of the women managed to keep up their campaigning with their identities unknown.
However by placing long lens cameras outside of prison grounds, police were able to secretly capture pictures of suffragettes whilst out on exercise, with many of these images used to create wanted posters and to warn local areas of known suffragettes.
In some cases, guards would strong arm suffragettes into the correct position, so the cameras would be able to capture a clear face for the picture.
Notably, Evelyn Manesta, was pulled into a headlock to keep her in place for her picture.Interestingly, the arm pushing down onto Evelyn’s throat and restraining her, was handily edited out for her wanted poster, instead replaced with a scarf.
5 . Your life is gone
Becoming a suffragette was not a decision to be made lightly; it could change your entire life and not for the better! It was a cause worth fighting for, but the price to fight was BIG.
Families would disown daughters who joined the WSPU; inheritances were cut, engagements were called off, marriages broke down.
Often the abuse received by suffragettes who went to prison, was matched by the reception they got after being released.
Many working class suffragettes lost their jobs, leaving them penniless.This meant that many women would attempt to go to prison under false identities, in a desperate bid to both be able to fight and be able to eat when they got out on the other side.
Then of course there were the mothers, forced to leave their children behind to go to prison. Heart-breaking enough, but these women not only missed their children when they were in jail, they risked losing them all together! Branded as unfit mothers, due to their activism.
For a strong example of this look no further than Suffragette, Helen Archdale, who narrowly escaped losing her two sons, after foiling her Mother in Laws attempt to kidnap the boys, in a big to rid them of their ‘pernicious mama’
It’s important that we remember just how much the women of the WSPU gave up, in their bid to fight for women’s equality. That they not only were brave enough to take on the fight, but did so knowing they were walking into countless dangers, opening themselves up to trauma and were at risk of losing everything.
This was interesting, where can I find out more?
Well there are way to many books to choose from! BUT if you are just starting to read up on the suffragettes, I’d suggest:
It’s Christmaaaaaaaas! Time for presents, stuffing your face and hugging family…
BOLLOCKS TO THAT
We’re going to show you why Christmas is one of the creepiest times of the year (with the weirdest Christmas lore from across the globe.
The Krampus gets more recognisable every year, his PR team are working magic.
This demonic fucker-up of tiny children is a Germanic folklore (i.e the most fucked up folklore-IT’S FANTASTIC) Krampy is also one of the oldest on the list!
Shitting kids up since ancient times! Via Giphy
So the legend goes that old Kramps kidnaps and then gorily devours children who’ve been naughty that year.
Festive images of The Krampus ripping up kids have been around for hundreds of years. What a lovely tradition.
Krampus himself looks like the lovechild of Satan and a demonic billy goat.
Think gnarled horns, hooves and a face only a mother could live… If the mother was blind, deaf and had no sense of smell.
So very festive! Makes me feel all warm inside.
In Schlanders (a Germanic city in Italy) it’s still tradition for grown ups to dress as Krampus on Christmas Eve and run around scaring the shit out of children… sign me up please!
After scarring children for life they enjoy a lovely glass of Schnapps by the fire.
The first of some terrifying Icelandic legends, this evil mountain witch has a similar M.O as most Christmas creepies, in that she likes to punish naughty children.
She is an Icelandic giantess with hooves, a wrinkled face and 13 tails.
Damn sneaky kids…
She comes down from the mountains on Christmas eve and kidnaps all the naughty children, taking them back to her home in a giant sack.
Then boils them alive in a stew, which sustains her till the next year.
Tasty AND efficient, this babe does not fuck around!
She also has an equally horrendous extended family!
You’ll meet her sons later in this list, but Grýla also had three husbands… who she murdered because they were shites and they bored her.
PREACH ELVIRA! Via Giphy
Jólakötturinn: The Yule Cat
Cats are dicks. Fact.
This is the biggest dick cat of all: A CAPITALIST LOVING MOGGY NIGHTMARE.
They eat poor children… just poor children.
Now most of us can’t say Jólakötturinn so we just call this bastard ,the Yule Cat, which feels very misleading since their entire thing is slaughtering poor folk.
Capitalist Cat Dick
Lemmie explain: Christmas is a time to celebrate by buying fancy new duds, splurging on a spiffy hat or a shiny new pair of shoes…and if you don’t, this cat will use its particular set of skills to hunt you down and kill you along with your entire family.
SO FUCKING FEEL GOOD! Via Giphy
Basically this Icelandic folklore was meant to inspire poorer people to work harder during the winter months so they could afford new garments for their family. CAPITALISM FOLKS!
13 Yule Lads
LADS LADS LADS! These guys are the pinnacle of unwanted Christmas guests.
If you thought creepy Uncle Alan was bad then wait till you meet these guys.
These are the spawn of Gryla, y’know the mountain witch!
Meet her asshole children, they’re basically the seven dwarves shit-head cousins.
LADS LADS LADS!
These guys don’t have the catchy names of Doc, Sleepy and Sneezy, but they are… descriptive, featuring; Spoon-Licker, Sausage-Swiper, Pan-Scraper, Door-Slammer, Window-Peeper (WTF?!), Meat-Hook (My Wrestling name), Gully-Gawk, Stubby, Bowl-Licker, Skyr Gobbler, Doorway-Sniffer and finally Candle-Stealer
Them’s some fucking jazzy names! Get the reference… via Giphy
Firstly they don’t all arrive together, they arrive one day at a time, and you’re stuck with them for 13 days.
They leave some nice prezzies for the kiddlywinks who have been good.
But the bad kids get all their shit fucked up.
Though they don’t murder you, like their dear old Mum does. They kick stuff over and pinch food, just more general oikness
This lovely little Goblin bum nugget comes from Southern European Folklore, jumping out of hiding during the twelve days of Christmas to be a total pain in the arse.
Descriptions of them vary from country to country, but everyone agrees they are ugly as hell and causers of lots of mischief.
What a handsome chap! Via Wikipedia
To keep them away during the 12 days people would light a fire to ward them off or leave a colander outside.
The colander is out there because the Kallikantzaros can’t resist counting stuff apparently… also if they say the number 3 out loud THEY WILL BLOW UP because it’s a holy number.
Happy Holidays y’all!
Sara Westrop is passionate about making history accessible (and fun!) for everyone. A disabled, queer writer from just outside London, who loves writing about the unsung chapters of history.
History is full of ladies that never get the due they deserve. These ladies very much fit that bill! From freedom fighting piracy to leading samurai armies and even straight up Game of Thrones-esque batshittery, it’s time we celebrated the mark left by these baddest bitches from history:
1. The tank wielding badass: Mariya Vasilyena Oktyabrskaya
When Mariya’s husband was killed fighting in WW2, she did what any grieving widow would…
Sold everything she owned, bought a tank, named it ‘fighting girlfriend’ and set off to kill as many Nazis as humanly possible.
Mariya grew up dirt poor in Crimea at the start of the 20th century. One of 10 children, there was rarely enough food to go around.
Yet Mariya didn’t let this destroy her, instead channeling her hardship into a love of politics and the military.
The fiesty young girl grew up to be a kickass young woman, who didn’t give a shit about gender rules; learning how to drive and shoot.
She married Ilya Oktyabrskaya, an army officer and the love of her life. Though the couple couldn’t have kids, they had each other and that was all Mariya wanted.
Still, when Ilya was called to fight for The Soviet Union in WW2, Mariya happily bid him farewell. After all Russia was being invaded by Germany and needed brave soldiers like Ilya.
And then Mariya got the call that is everyone’s worst nightmare.
Her beloved Ilya was dead.
Following Ilyas death, Mariya wrote to Stalin:
My husband was killed in action defending the motherland. I want revenge on the fascist dogs for his death and for the death of Soviet people tortured by the fascist barbarians. For this purpose, I’ve deposited all my personal savings – 50,000 rubles – to the National Bank in order to build a tank. I kindly ask to name the tank ‘Fighting Girlfriend’ and to send me to the frontline as a driver of said tank.
Stalin, agreed…because, well you would wouldn’t you?!?
Mariya was made to go through several months of tank training (way more than her male comrades)
It soon became clear that Mariya could drive, shoot and lob grenades like no other. So she was sent to the front line.
Her first mission in Fighting Girlfriend was to help block German troops route to Moscow.
She nimbly manovered Fighting Girlfriend around the battlefield, destroying several anti tank guns, machine gun nest and enemy soldiers.
Then she was hit!
With Fighting Girlfriend out of action, Mariya was ordered to remain where she was and wait for help…
Obviously she didn’t.
Instead she calmly got out her tank in the middle of a war zone; fixed it, leapt back in and entered the fray once more.
Now promoted to Sergeant, Mariya and Fighting Girlfriend continued their steady stream of casual bad assery.
Then in 1944 Fighting Girlfriend was again hit.
As usual, Mariya refused to let this stop her doing her job. She leapt out and starting working on Fighting Girlfriend.
Just then another shell hit.
Even Mariya didn’t stand a chance against a blast like this.
She was taken off the battlefield in a coma, from which she never woke.
But Mariya and Fighting Girlfriend lived on. She was honoured with the Soviet Unions highest military honour. To this day she is still remembered in Russia for her bravery and badassey.
2. The Samurai Sex Symbol: Tomoe Gozen
Forget everything you think you know about samurais. Because we’re about to blow the doors off these stoic blokes with swords.
You guys…there were female samurais, and they were a level of badass never before seen! (Thanks by the way to @elaanfaun on Twitter, who suggested we check this out!)
From the medieval period onwards, girls from samurai families could be trained up as onna-bugeisha, which roughly translates as:
They trained in fighting (of course), as well as in maths and science.
These were insanely intelligent ladies who could both lead military strategising and single handedly take down a group of men in hand to hand combat.
One of the most badass of these ladies was Tomoe Gozen.
Known for being both beautiful and ballsy, Tomoe was a 12 century warrior not to be messed with. Tomoe had an unparalleled collection of war trophies…which in the 12th century came in the form of the decapitated heads of enemies who had died at your hands.
Tomoe’s pad was full of dead guy heads (which must have been a treat for overnight guests!)
And she wasn’t just killing it at interior design!
See, Tomoe was around during Japan’s, Genpei War (a monumental civil war) and her fighting chops were so good that she was made into a leading commander for one of the armies by its leader, Lord Kiso no Yoshinaka!
In 1183, Tomoe led over 1000 men into battle!
Of course she led from the front and of course they won.
Such fears of badassery weren’t unusual for Tomoe.
She regularly led huge forces of men into war; once even leading a force of just 300 samurais into battle against 6000! Emerging as one of only 5 survivors!
Tomoe’s final battle was a doozy!
With her side emerging the clear victors of the war, it was time to decide who would get to actually lead Japan when all was said and done.
It was a toss up between Tomoe’s boss, Lord Kiso and his cousin Minamoto no Yoritomo.
Of course voting for a leader would be way too logical…so they had their strongest warriors duke it out instead.
Though Tomoe was one fierce fighter, the rest of Lord Kiso’s forces were no match for Minamoto no Yoritomo.
Soon only Tomoe and 5 others were left alive.
Lord Kiso called for his warriors to retreat…but Tomoe wanted to have the last word.
So, she charged into a group of 30 of the enemies best fighters and emerged a few minutes later with the head of the strongest.
Let’s assume it had pride of place in Tomoe’s decapitated head tablescape.
3. Jeanne de Clisson – The Lioness Of Brittany
The definition of a woman scorned, Jeanne went from an average medieval noblewoman to one on the warpath.
She dealt with her enemies brutally and soon become Frances most feared force….seriously guys this is some Game of Thrones shit right here!
Jeanne had already been married twice before she married Oliver de Clisson in 1330.
But this marriage wasn’t like the others. See, Jeanne and Oliver actually loved each; a rarity in this era!
The couple had several children and lived in relative bliss, until Oliver was called up to war…and everything went fully tits up.
The French and the English, were at war over the dukedom of Brittany. Oliver chose to fight for France; under the leadership of Charles de Blois.
Things were going great…until Oliver was taken prisoner by the English…and Charles de Blois suspected Oliver of losing to the English on purpose.
And so, when England and France eventually called a truce, France decided to celebrate by executing Oliver.
Jeanne was (understandably) devastated by her husbands celebratory beheading
But Jeanne didn’t want to go off and play the repentant widow. She wanted revenge on everyone who had allowed Oliver’s death.
So she sold everything to buy war supplies and set off to bring down the French nobility, Charles de Blois and even Frances ruler, King Philip.
Her first stop was the home of one of Charles de Blois’s pals.
She arrived outside his castle with her children…and a small army of men.
Still – what could a woman do? And so, the gates were opened.
By morning almost everybody in the castle had been massacred. Its contents stolen and only a few wide eyed survivors left to tell of the what they’d witnessed.
Jeanne fled across the channel with her children, in hopes of using England to fund her revenge spree.
She got her wish; buying three war ships, which Jeanne painted black and hung red sails on.
Then, with a band of pirates, outlaws and supporters, she set out for the channel; attacking any ship with a French flag.
For 13 years, Jeanne waged war on France via the sea.
It was said that if a French noble was onboard a ship then Jeanne would get an axe and behead them herself; just as she believed, they had allowed her husband to be.
Only a few survivors remained from each ship. Allowed to live so they could return to France and tell of the horrors they’d witnessed
Then just as suddenly she had started her quest for revenge…Jeanne stopped.
She moved to England, where she was gifted lands and wads if cash for so kindly cleaning the channel of the French enemy.
Then she remarried and (weirdly) returned to France…where she peacefully lived out the rest of her days.
4. The rebel pioneer: Sophie Morigeau
With one eye, bright green glasses and a ‘not taking any of you’re bullshit’ attitude, Sophie Morigeau took the pioneer world by storm and redefined what it meant to be a woman.
She refused to set up home and let some guy go have her adventures. Instead she broke all the rules and set out to rule her male dominated world.
Growing up on the Canadian frontier, Sophie was brave, bulshy and able to give as good as she got; she was basically built for having ridiculous pioneer adventures.
Sadly, that’s not what nice girls like Sophie did.
Her parents tried everything they could to ‘civilise’ her. Sending off for a good catholic education and teaching her homemaking skills.
At 16 she was married off to guy almost a decade older. He was nice enough, but married life just wasn’t Sophie’s bag.
So she ditched the husband, took back her maiden name and set up a gold mining trade businesses.
As you do.
Ditching a husband and running a business solo were unheard of female pursuits in this age. Still, Sophie wasn’t done…she wanted more.
She wanted to grow her business. And the best way to do that was to do what every other entrepreneur with any business sense did at the time; find some good land and claim it.
Except women couldn’t do that.
…but Sophie did anyway.
On this plot of land she almost single handedly built herself a home and a trading post.
With her business thriving, Sophie started opening herself up to male company – obviously no strings attached, after all she wasn’t giving everything up to be a wife again!
The community described Sophie’s boyfriends as ‘husbands’…just husbands who obeyed everything Sophie said and got their marching orders when she got bored/tired of them.
There were of course ‘husbands’ who weren’t happy with Sophie having so much independence…
One ‘husband’ who emotionally abused Sophie, mysteriously turned up drowned.
And ‘husband’ no 12 somehow ended up shot after failing to make way for ‘husband’ no 13.
Luckily though, Sophie didn’t need men to have fun. As a good pioneer, she had plenty of adventures!
On one adventure she lost an eye when hit by a tree branch; thus creating the need for her signature bright green specs.
She also famously got into a dramatic horse and buggy crash, after which she was left lying in the road with one rib sticking out of her stomach.
What did Sophie do? Amputate the rib herself of course!
Then she hung the rib bone in her home, a pink ribbon tied neatly round it (If only Sophie and Tomoe Gozen had lived at the same time! Together they could have owned the most niche interior design business)
Despite her self surgery shenanigans, Sophie lived to a ripe old age, continuing to build her business and live life to the fullest until she was well into her twilight years.
5. The Pirate Queen: Grace O’Malley
Known as Ireland’s pirate queen, Grace O’Malley was a women you didn’t mess with. She went from innocent little girl to seafaring warrior Queen, battling for her peoples rights and giving two fingers to Queen Elizabeth I.
Graces’ Dad was an Irish Chieftain; earning cash from both massively overcharging the boats who used the waters that fell under his control and sailing to and from exotic lands (well…Spain)
Sadly for Grace, Daddy O’Malley wasn’t crazy about his baby girl joining him on his pirate filled sea adventures.
It’s said that when she asked to join him on the high seas, her parents lied and said as she was a girl, her hair was too long to sail.
This didn’t stop Grace.
She grabbed a knife, lopped off her locks and rocked up at her Dads ship the next day ready for Pirating 101!
Grace turned out to be a natural leader and following her fathers death it was she who took over the family business, not her brothers!
This meant Grace now owned a good chunk of Ireland, had wealth of her own and was a Queen. Nice!
But obviously Grace wasn’t content to stop there.
At 15 she married a famous war hero, who was also heir to the O’Flaherty title and thus due to own an even bigger chunk of Ireland not to mention a ton of cash!
Grace and her new husband had 3 children together before he was killed by a rival clan in an ambush.
Unsurprisingly, Grace didn’t slink away a devastated widow.
Instead she took control of his ships and got herself a new lover!
Sadly, Graces new lover was also murdered by a rival clan…so Grace stormed their castle and had them all horrifically killed. As you do.
By her early twenties, Grace had a sizeable hunk of Ireland, a shit ton of ships and even more supporters.
She married again, this time to a guy called Iron Richard, for political reasons (*cough* he was very very rich *cough*)
Grace gave birth to the couples child onboard one of her ships.
Almost immediately after she had given birth, the ship was attackers.
Grace of course led the charge against these merciless attackers; firing a blunderbuss whilst wrapped up in a blanket.
Sadly, for all her badass adventures, things weren’t as exciting at home. Graces new husband was all kinds of boring!
So a year into their marriage Iron Richard returned home to their castle to find the whole thing locked up.
Grace stuck her head out of the window and shouted down to him:
‘I dismiss you Richard Burke’
Just like that. Marriage over. Graces next big challenge came from England. See Queen Elizabeth I was determined to bring the Irish clans under English rule.
Elizabeth used both bribery and force to take power away from Ireland’s leading Chieftens, Princes and Princesses.
Yet Grace managed to keep building her empire up.
Well, at least until Elizabeths governor in Ireland squeezed out much of Graces income, attacked her home and took two of her sons and her half brother as ransom.
Naturally, Grace didn’t back down and instead set sail for England, to demand Elizabeth give back her family and basically calm the fuck down.
The pair met at Greenwich Palace where Grace refused to curtesy for Elizabeth. After all…they were both Queens.
She also refused to remove her dagger and did a massively snotty sneeze into a noble woman’s fine silk handkerchief…which she duly chucked in the nearest fire; shrugging off the courtiers outrage.
With the nicities over, Grace talked finalities with Elizabeth in fluent Latin.
It was decided that Elizabeth’s governor would be removed from Ireland and Graces family freed. In return, Grace had to promise not to join any Irish rebellions.
Grace agreed and set off back to Ireland…where she joined the Irish revolts and went on to live to a ripe old age.
This was interesting! Where can I find out more? I’m glad you asked! I’ve popped some suggestions for further reading on each of our badasses below:
Grace O’Malley: Pirate Queen, The Life of Grace O’Malley by Judith Cook.
Well this is awkward...they aren’t any more books on the others (unless you can read french, then you my friend are in like re. Jeanne De Clisson!) However, Tomoe, Mariya and Jeanne are all including in the below cracking book (along with tons of other amazing women!)
Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics by Jason Porath
Booze! Who doesn’t love it? Trick question – we all do! But what happens when this universal love suddenly becomes illegal? Well, you drink it anyway…just very craftily.
During the prohibition you could be fined thousands and even thrown in jail if you were caught with alcohol, so smuggling booze became serious business.
Now first step for smuggling alcohol – you need to get alcohol to smuggle.
Whilst some breweries got through prohibition by making ‘near beer’ (anywhere from 2 – 0.5% alcohol) those who kept on making the strong stuff had to go deep underground. Operating in woods or under the guise of farms and other out of the way businesses.
It was vital that these suppliers remained unknown and untraceable for police.
This wasn’t an easy task – keeping entire breweries secret required some James Bond level covert operations! Bar sneaking and guns, we all know that James Bond is nothing without wierd gadgets from Q…with that in mind I present:
No these are not lift shoes (a ‘la Tom Cruise) they are in fact designed to make the wearers footprints look like cow hooves.
The idea was that any cops looking to try and trace bootleggers to their supplier would lose them when a persons footprints suddenly turned into a cows….which I guess that was a totally normal occurrence in the 1920s and early 30s, as was cattle going for lone forest jaunts…
Cow shoes weren’t the only method to throw off police. Bootleggers also pimped their rides into supped up cars that were easily able outrun the po po. They even went so far as to build a cross country underwater cable car to outfox the fuzz.
Yep, that’s right:
A cross country underwater cable car… made of torpedoes
Detroit was a bootleggers dream, mainly because it sat right next to Canada, land of maple, manners and legal alcohol!
But how to transport this booze to the US? A boat could was very visible (therefore very catchable) and swimming it over seemed like a whole deal. So naturally an underwater system was built
Torpedoes were filled with liqueur and then attached to a mile-long underwater cable line, running from Canada to Detroit. Thanks to the quick motor running the cable line, a 1932 edition of Popular Science estimates that around 40 torpedoes worth of hooch were transported to America every hour.
As well as torpedo underwater pipelines, bootleggers also had more, erm…homespun ways of smuggling alcohol:
Stuffing booze in random crap
The imagination of bootleggers was apparently endless. Sadly rather than using this imagination for writing the next great American novel, they funneled their skills into putting alcohol into anything they could get there hands on.
Here are just some of the things Alcohol was smuggled in:
But no matter how ingenious (or mean to pigs) the smuggle, the bootleggers always got caught…welll…unless they were women.
The riot girls of rum running
For some reason police just didn’t seem to suspect women of smuggling booze and even when they were caught, they were let off really lightly (seriously, one woman’s sentence was actually to attend church each Sunday for 2 years…)
Unsurprisingly some women took advantage of this and made serious coin.
Marie Waite (AKA Spanish Marie) was one of these women. Marie single handedly created an entire convey to move tons of alcohol from Havana to Florida’s Key West. Through her active prohibition years she raked in at least $1 million, which in 1920s money, is some Gatsby-esque shit.
Marie wasn’t alone. Female bootleggers even created a guide to smuggling booze on ones person. From flasks attached to thighs to full on aprons ladden with whisky bottles, their creativity for creating clothes made of cocktails knew no bounds.
The world of female ‘rum running’ was a really diverse one. This open – yet illegal trade -allowed women from all walks of life to make their fortune, as one journalist put it:
‘Some are bold, brainy and beautiful, some hard-boiled and homely, some white, some black, some brown. (But) All are thorns in the sides of Prohibition’
This was interesting, where can i find out more?Well, I really need you guys to help me on this one! I’m struggling to find any really amazing books on women in prohibition, in particular, female rum runners…if you know if any, hit me up in the comments or on our Twitter!