Bad Girls from History: Wicked or Misunderstood? by Dee Gordon


First of all I would like to thank Alex at Pen and Sword Books for being so kind and sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. This book was first published in paperback in the UK in 2017. This book centres on (official blurb): “You won’t be familiar with every one of the huge array of women featured in these pages, but all, familiar or not, leave unanswered questions behind them. The range is extensive, as was the research, with its insight into the lives and minds of women in different centuries, different countries, with diverse cultures and backgrounds, from the poverty stricken to royalty. Mistresses, murderers, smugglers, pirates, prostitutes and fanatics with hearts and souls that feature every shade of black (and grey!). From Cleopatra to Ruth Ellis, from Boudicca to Bonnie Parker, from Lady Caroline Lamb to Moll Cutpurse, from Jezebel to Ava Gardner. Less familiar names include Mary Jeffries, the Victorian brothel-keeper, Belle Starr, the American gambler and horse thief, La Voisin, the seventeenth-century Queen of all Witches in France but these are random names, to illustrate the variety of the content in store for all those interested in women who defy law and order, for whatever reason. The risque, the adventurous and the outrageous, the downright nasty and the downright desperate all human (female!) life is here. From the lower strata of society to the aristocracy, class is not a common denominator. Wicked? Misunderstood? Nave? Foolish? Predatory? Manipulative? Or just out of their time? Read and decide.”

This book is a very interesting read and I definitely learnt a lot about different bad girls throughout history that I didn’t know about before. I also want to state here that this book would be a brilliant introduction and even overview of different bad girls throughout history to a reader who is new to this subject area or just want to know more about the various bad girls throughout time.

When it comes down to this book it was in many ways a very tough book to rate and also to review because the book didn’t follow in the normal written style, for example: it was instead broken up into different sections that was then divided into mini biographies on the various bad girls throughout history. For me personally I would have loved for there to have been more detail in each section such as more about what they did and why. I would also have liked for more history to have been explored throughout each section as well. Many of the women included in this book were UK and US based which isn’t a bad thing but I would have loved for more women from other countries around the world to have been included too.

Throughout this whole book you can clearly see that the author has done extensive research for this book. I loved that this book was a quick, light and easy read. In total this book had six different sections and I have to say that two sections in particular were favourites for me and they were the Gangsters, Thieves and Con-Artists section and the Rebel Collection which included women pirates.

Overall, if you are new to history non-fiction or women’s history in general then this book is the perfect read and introduction for any beginner.


The edition was published by Pen and Sword History (2017)

(The Image is my own please do not copy/take without permission first)

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