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Jo Stanley

Consultant in maritime history and creative lifestory

Welcome to my website

I'm a creative historian who works with museums, universities and in the community. Women who went to sea - whose travel transformed their lives forever - are my special area of expertise.

Jo StanleyMy especial interest is in the stories of people who have led marginalised lives in the past - and sought adventure, freedom and the space to be all they are, and might become.

In particular this means recording people, or helping them write their stories. They tend to be people who've taken jobs at sea despite the odds (like women and non-white people) or LGBTQI people - for whom seagoing meant sometimes queer heaven and sometimes injustice.

Cut LassShips are hypersexualised spaces. As a would-be sexologist as well as cultural historian, that's fascinating to me. They're heterotopias (meaning other places, like Wonderland) and liminal zones, which means they explain a lot about our societies on land.)

I live in Marsden in the Pennines, and work a lot in London and abroad. At the University of Hull's Maritime Historical Studies Centre I am an Honorary Research Fellow.

Breaking news

Women and the Royal Navy cover

My new book, Women and the Royal Navy, (IB Tauris/ National Museum of the Royal Navy) is just out..

Order it for £14 instead of £20 RRP via and enter the discount code AN2 when prompted.

Already you can buy merchandise using the cover image.

What they say about me

'Jo Stanley has for many years now fearlessly explored the depths of maritime history. She has discovered so many treasures that she herself has become a treasure. Read From Cabin 'Boys' to Captains and find out why.'
Marcus Rediker, author of Outlaws of the Atlantic, Distinguished Professor of Atlantic History at the University of Pittsburgh.
'Your articles are concise, revealing, heartfelt, funny, and very necessary.'
(Dr Ray Walsh, John Moores University)
'You've written probably the most innovative essay ever in the historiography of mobilities.'
(Dr Peter Norton, Editor, T2M Yearbook, University of Virginia)
'I've been a fan of your work for a long time, as it really opens new and fun horizons for maritime history.'
(Henry Trotter, author and Yale University/University of Cape Town).

Forthcoming articles

Late Spring 2018: Cubah Cornwallis: the black nurse who saved Nelson's life in Jamaica, Trafalgar Chronicle (special edition: 'Nelson's other women').

Catch this!

London: Thursday Nov 17

Come and hear my new paper, Gendered mobility at sea 1960-2017. Comparing women's changing seagoing roles in the royal and merchant navies, for the Transport & Mobility History seminar series. IHR Peter Marshall Room, N204, Second Floor, Institute for Historical Research, Senate House, Malet St, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HU. 17.30.Free. All welcome.

Portsmouth: Saturday Nov 25

You're welcome to two papers I am giving at the Women and the Navy one-day event celebrating the centenary of the WRNS' founding, and connected to 'Pioneers to Professionals. Women and the Royal Navy' exhibition at the National Museum of the Royal Navy. The event will take place at the historic dockyard.

  • My keynote speech is 'Doing sterling work for our navy: re-thinking women’s unpaid and paid support over the centuries'
  • Then in the afternoon I'll be speaking on 'Sister services but separate. The WRNS contrasted to healers in the VAD, QARNNS and Royal Naval Medical Service.' news-events/

Marsden. West Yorkshire; Monday 15 Jan 2018

Mechanics Institute, Peel St., HD7 6BW
Friends of Marsden Library Benefit talk. Northern writers series. 'Writing about 'lady sailors' - and the textile art I'd like to do about them too if only I had time.'

Queer history of Falklands Conflict

The MV Norland, the Hull-Zeebrugge car ferry, was the the campest ship in that war. Warren FitzGerald. has written the frisky story: All in the Same Boat, London: John Blake, 2016.

My review in the British Journal of Military History is just out: in it I say 'Bacon butties, self-styled poufs and honky-tonk joannas ... This is an important book in that new category: military and maritime diversity ...Poignant, rich, and bravely direct; it deserves to be on all maritime and Armed Forces reading lists.'

You can download the full review free from The Neptune ceremony as they cross the Equator

And here's a pic from it, thanks to Warren: it shows the Neptune ceremony as they cross the Equator.