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A History of the Royal Navy: Women and the Royal Navy

A History of the Royal Navy: Women and the Royal Navy
Jo Stanley

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As nurses, `Jenny Wrens', and above all as wives and mothers, women have quietly kept the Royal Navy afloat throughout history. From its earliest years, women maintained homes and families while men battled at sea, providing vital support behind the scenes. Later they also ran maritime businesses and worked as civilians in naval offices and dockyards. From 1884, women were able to serve as nurses in the Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service and, from 1917, they became members of the Women's Royal Naval Service. The outbreak of both world wars gave women special opportunities and saw the role of women as Wrens, nursing sisters, VADs and medics change and develop. In more recent times, the development of equal rights legislation has fundamentally changed naval life: women are now truly in the navy and do `men's jobs' at sea. Using previously-unpublished first-hand material, this is the first book to reflect all the diverse roles that women have played in Royal Navy services. Jo Stanley situates women's naval activities within a worldwide context of women who worked, travelled and explored new options. This book provides vital new perspectives on both women's military history and the wider history of women who desired to work on or near the sea.

Author Info

Dr Jo Stanley is a creative historian specialising in women's maritime history, including women pirates and captains. She is Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Hull's Maritime Historical Studies Centre and runs the blog: http://genderedseas.blogspot.com Her book From Cabin `Boys' to Captains: 250 years of Women at Sea was one of the winners of the Mountbatten Maritime Literary Prize in 2016.


'Modern armed forces must represent the societies they defend if they wish to remain relevant in the modern world. Jo Stanley's expertly-contextualised book explains how the modern Royal Navy successfully integrated women into  seagoing service, a key example of transformation that has benefitted the Navy, the nation and all those involved.' - Andrew Lambert, Laughton Professor of Naval History, Kings College, London

‘My grandmother Dame Katherine Furse [the Women's Royal Naval Service’s first director]  convinced me that a woman could achieve whatever she set her mind to. Jo Stanley's wonderful book will inspire women worldwide.’ - Hon. Elizabeth Furse, United States Congresswoman (retired)

'The author gives an authoritative and dynamic account of the vital role women in naval uniform have played in the shaping of today’s maritime forces – it is recognition long overdue. She asks the questions, skilfully provides the answers and tells it as it is. For anyone with an interest in things naval and women in particular this is an inspirational book which deserves a place in everyone’s library. An excellent sequel to her previous book ‘From Cabin Boys to Captains’. - Commodore Muriel Hocking RD* Royal Naval Reserve, the first and only woman in command of the RNR and the navy’s first ever female commodore.

‘A meticulously researched tribute to women’s immense contribution to naval service, mirroring their sisters’ with the air force and army.’ - Mary Mackie, author of Wards in the Sky: The RAF's Remarkable Nursing Service

‘Jo Stanley's work is distinguished by the trouble she takes to uncover and explain the "how" and the "why" of women's full integration into the Royal Navy, rather than merely reporting the "what".  Both as a military reference and a social commentary, the end result is important and compelling.’ - Commodore  Carolyn Stait, CBE, Naval Base Commander Clyde (Faslane), 2004-2007

‘Naval Nurses of the QARNNS are respected members of the longest serving women’s service within the Royal Navy. This book shows the evolvement of the Service from the days of the lob-lolly boys who assisted the ship’s surgeon, to the highly trained defence nurse specialists available to serve aboard ship or ashore, home or abroad.’ - Nora Lewis, author of Nursing in the Navy, and former QARNNS Sister

‘The Royal Navy loomed large in my family history. To my delight this book makes clear the enormous but hidden role played by women in the Senior Service life. It is based on sound research and engagingly written and deserves to find a wide audience.' - Dr Susan Rose, lecturer, maritime author, and granddaughter of Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Jellicoe

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
Series: A History of the Royal Navy

ISBN: 9781780767567
Publication Date: 30 Nov 2017
Number of Pages: 256
Height: 216
Width: 134
Illustrations: 50 bw integ, 16 in 8pp colour plates, 2-3 maps

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