Today I’m going to look at women with bad reputations. But I’m not talking about Amy Winehouse or Lindsay Lohan – we’re going way back further than these recent women of disrepute. I’m delving into our Reference databases to explore the bad girls throughout history. Take a look at these women who became well-known for their bad deeds:
Cleopatra VII (born 69 BC) was charming, ambitious, and powerful. She wielded immense power, and has become known throughout history as a seductress and warrior queen. She beguiled both Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, ruled an immense stretch of land, and played a role in the death of several of her siblings.
Mary Tudor (born 1516), daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, was a huge supporter of the Catholic Church and reinstituted statutes against heretics. After hundreds of Protestants were burned at the stake, she earned the nickname “Bloody Mary.”
Anne Bonny (born 1700) and Mary Read (born 1692) were two of the very few female pirates to plague the high seas in the eighteenth century. Their career of plundering and piracy was cut short when they were captured and sent to Jamaica for trial. They both managed to avoid execution by claiming to be pregnant (also known as “pleading the belly”), although Read died in prison shortly after.
Martha Cannery (born approx. 1852), known later as Calamity Jane, was not quite an outlaw, but certainly lived her life far from the straight and narrow. She was a skilled sharpshooter, occasionally dressed as a man, and was no stranger to a barstool. Gale Biography in Context said, “Cannary had a reputation as a hard-drinking, rowdy, foul-mouthed ruffian. But she was also known as a generous, kind-hearted woman who was never mean-spirited, even when drunk.”
Mary Mallon (born 1870) was known first as an Irish immigrant cook, later as the first healthy carrier of typhoid fever, and finally as Typhoid Mary. She was arrested for spreading the disease to 53 people and killing three. Following her release from prison, she changed her name and returned to cooking, where she continued to spread typhoid fever around the city.
Ma Barker (born 1871) took the role of devoted mother to a whole new level. She was never arrested for a crime, but she was suspected to be the leader of a gang that consisted primarily of her sons, the Barker Boys. J. Edgar Hoover considered one of the most vicious people the FBI had ever come across. She died in a shoot-out with the FBI in 1935.
Bonnie Parker (born 1910 and shown above) fell in love with Clyde Barrow and together they went on a 21-month robbery spree which left dozens of people dead.
For more information on these rough and tough women, or any other subject that comes to mind, please stop by our Reference department.