cover image Let Me Be Frank: A Book About Women Who Dressed Like Men to Do Shit They Weren’t Supposed to Do

Let Me Be Frank: A Book About Women Who Dressed Like Men to Do Shit They Weren’t Supposed to Do

Tracy Dawson, illus. by Tina Berning. Harper Design, $29.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-0

Rule-breaking women who “disguised themselves as men or adopted a male pseudonym” in order to pursue their “true calling” take center stage in this quip-filled debut history from TV writer and actor Dawson. Profile subjects include Hannah Snell, who joined the British Army in the 1740s in order to track down her philandering husband, and Egyptian ruler Hatshepsut, who built the memorial temple at Deir el-Bahri and expanded trade routes but was painted as a “vile usurper” by early Egyptologists. Born in the tribal region of northwestern Pakistan in 1990, professional squash player Maria Toorpakai defied the Taliban by dressing as a boy in order to play sports, while 18-year-old Joan of Arc defeated British forces at the Battle of Orléans in 1429 after “angelic messengers” told her “to save France by driving out its enemies and to install Charles the Dauphin as its rightful king.” Irish aristocrat Margaret King, who was influenced by the “unorthodox beliefs” of her governess, feminist writer Mary Wollstonescraft, disguised herself as a man in order to study medicine. Stylish ink and watercolor drawings complement Dawson’s amusing yet pointed biographical sketches. This spirited feminist history entertains and enlightens. Illus. (May)