Sisters in Arms

Sisters in Arms

Female warriors from antiquity to the new millennium

General Military
  • Author: Julie Wheelwright
  • Short code: GNM
  • Publication Date: 20 Feb 2020
  • Number of Pages: 320
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A timely study that illuminates the neglected history of female soldiers from the ancient warriors of antiquity to the present day, bringing their fascinating stories to life and challenging the contemporary relationship between masculinity and combat.

In October 2018, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that all roles in the military would now be open to women. Although this marks a historic shift, officially allowing British women into combat roles, the presence of women on the front lines dates back to antiquity. Beginning with the founding myth of the Amazons, Julie Wheelwright explores the history of women in arms. She traces our fascination with these figures, many of whom successfully disguised themselves as men, using primary sources and their own words to bring their experiences vividly to light. Among these forgotten heroines are Christian Davies, Ireland's most famous 18th-century soldier, who received poems from adoring women claiming that she represented a resurgence of ‘the Amazonian race'; Sarah Edmonds, who left her native Canada and was among hundreds of women to enlisted on both sides during the American Civil War; Maria Bochkareva, a private in the Tsar's army and leader of the Women's Battalion of Death in 1917; and Captain Flora Sandes, hero of the Serbian Army who toured Australia, thrilling her audiences with tales of bravery and patriotism.

Biographical Note

Dr Julie Wheelwright is a senior lecturer in the English department at City, University of London. She is the author of Amazons and Military Maids, The Fatal Lover: Mata Hari and the Myth of Women in Espionage, and a biography of her ancestor who was taken captive by indigenous people in 18th-century Maine, Esther: The Remarkable True Story of Esther Wheelwright. A former print and broadcast journalist whose career included producing and contributing to documentaries for BBC radio and television, Channel 4, and the History Channel in Canada, she has written widely on women in the intelligence services and in the military.


Chapter 1: The Persistence of a Phenomenon
Chapter 2: The Founding Myth of the Amazons
Chapter 3: Enlisting
Chapter 4: Life Among the Men
Chapter 5: The Denouement
Chapter 6: Back to Civvy Street
Chapter 7: The Legacy
Chapter 8: Daughters of Warriors
Chapter 9: Komsomol Girls to Facebook Icons
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