The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts

The Floating Brothel The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts A seafaring story with a twist the incredible voyage of a shipload of disorderly girls and the men who transported them fell for them and sold them This riveting work of rediscovered history tells f

  • Title: The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts
  • Author: Siân Rees
  • ISBN: 9780786867875
  • Page: 360
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A seafaring story with a twist the incredible voyage of a shipload of disorderly girls and the men who transported them, fell for them, and sold them.This riveting work of rediscovered history tells for the first time the plight of the female convicts aboard the Lady Julian, which set sail from England in 1789 and arrived in Australia s Botany Bay a year later The woA seafaring story with a twist the incredible voyage of a shipload of disorderly girls and the men who transported them, fell for them, and sold them.This riveting work of rediscovered history tells for the first time the plight of the female convicts aboard the Lady Julian, which set sail from England in 1789 and arrived in Australia s Botany Bay a year later The women, most of them petty criminals, were destined for New South Wales to provide its hordes of lonely men with sexual favors as well as progeny But the story of their voyage is even incredible, and here it is expertly told by a historian with roots in the boatbuilding business and a true love of the sea.Si n Rees delved into court documents and firsthand accounts to extract the stories of these women s experiences on board a ship that both held them prisoner and offered them refuge from their oppressive existence in London At the heart of the story is the passionate relationship between Sarah Whitelam, a convict, and the ship s steward, John Nicol, whose personal journals provided much of the material for this book Along the way, Rees brings the vibrant, bawdy world of London and the sights, smells, and sounds of an eighteenth century ship vividly to life In the tradition of Nathaniel Philbrick s In the Heart of the Sea, this is a winning combination of dramatic high seas adventure and untold history.

    • The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts ¦ Siân Rees
      360 Siân Rees
    • thumbnail Title: The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts ¦ Siân Rees
      Posted by:Siân Rees
      Published :2019-09-02T07:38:40+00:00


    About “Siân Rees

    • Siân Rees

      Si n Rees is a British author and historian She has a degree in history from University of Oxford She lives in Brighton and is an RLF Fellow at the University of Sussex She is particularly interested in the social and maritime history of the 17th and 18th centuries.



    459 thoughts on “The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts

    • If you make it past the first 10-20 pages which list in a quite boring way the names of convicts and some details of their crimes, this is an absolutely brilliant book. Extensive and painstaking research is evident throughout the book and this covers all aspects of the story of the convicts, from an explanation of 18th-century British law to life on board the ship to the creation of new colonies. All is presented in an enjoyable and captivating way. Where details are the result of research regar [...]


    • This is the story of women convicts who were transported ‘beyond the seas’ on the Lady Juliana – so called ‘Julian’ by the author due to the memoir The Life And Adventures Of John Nicol, Mariner, who fell madly in love with convict Sarah Whitlam on board the ship, only to be forced at gunpoint to leave her and their child born on the ship, in what was still a muddy convict settlement. John Nicol recounted his memoir 30 or 40 years after the trip, and still his heart pined for a woman h [...]


    • The book isn't as bawdy as the description would lead one to believe. I'd say the book is evenly divided between the convicts and sea faring information. I learned quite a bit about bilges, tar, shipwrecks, and the history of sea travel in the 1700s. I bought the book for the stories of the convicts, so I was a bit disappointed, but learned so much about a topic I knew absolutely nothing about, sailing the high seas, it evened the score. Great book.


    • Maybe because I’ve read so much excellent narrative nonfiction recently (Unbroken, Brutal Journey, A Voyage for Madmen, The Lost City of Z, Born to Run) it has negatively skewed my view of The Floating Brothel. On the other hand, it may just mean that I’m more attuned to good nonfiction. In any case, I don’t think anyone is fond of giving bad reviews, and that includes me. Perhaps, as a writer, I know that, regardless of success or failure, writing any book is a lot of hard work. (That’s [...]


    • A sort of Bad Girls at sea, this was a history book about an all-female convict ship that sailed to Australia at the end of the 18th century. It was fascinating to read about the lives of convicts and seamen - the kind of people history usually overlooks - and the realities of life at sea, in 18th-century England, and in the colonies. It's only a three-star as the historical detail can sometimes be a bit plodding and the prose isn't the sparkliest. Still very interesting, though.


    • 2.5 starsThis is the story, as best as it could be pieced together from journals and accounts, of 237 women who were sentenced to spend either 7 years or the rest of their natural lives in Sidney Cove, Australia, who were shipped out aboard the Lady Julian. They went from the horrors of overcrowded prisons to life on board this ship, which was no picnic, although they were fed and cared for better on that ship than convicts were on many others. I nearly liked it, and some parts were better than [...]


    • This is just the sort of history I can cope with: anecdotal, but with some continuity of characters; acknowledging sources, but not full of footnotes; including background information, but not tediously detailed. A Previous reviewer on BookCrossing said you could almost smell the ship, and I would agree that the descriptions of the smells are vivid enough to justify that comment.


    • In less than a decade after Captain James Cook's rather unfortunate contretemps with the natives of Hawaii, began the convict ships' voyages to his newly discovered land mass on the other side of the globe, or to use the vernacular,"Transportation to parts beyond the seas." Just three months after the mutiny aboard H.M.S Bounty in 1789, the Lady Julian (official records name her Lady Juliana) sailed from England with 237 female felons on board, bound for Sydney Cove. (Some records list 226)Sian [...]


    • This is an interesting subject - a ship full of women convicts sent to be breeders for the new Sydney colony. The book itself gives insight into period crime, prison conditions, politics, the slave trade and all sorts of other things, along with quotes from the time. It is short though, and not as in depth as I would have liked. There's some speculation about what experiences would have been like, and there could have been a lot more context material, and a lot more explanation of terms. I know [...]


    • Five stars is high praise for a book, but this one deserves the rating. A true story of how the British justice system contrived to deal with an excess of miserable criminals is laid out in considerable detail. The astounding stories of life in the disgusting prisons of England and the incredible shipboard life of convicts are absolutely fascinating. In addition, I now have a deeper understanding of the infant colony of Sydney Australia. The author is skilled at description and gives us so much [...]


    • The Floating Brothel is a great non fiction history book mainly focused on the lives of female convicts who came to be aboard the Lady Julian for transportation to the new British settlement of New South Wales. It starts with their background and crimes, the initial trials & journey to the shores. What was involved in the preparation of departure, the journey, romances, port calls and adaptation once landed. There's also the shocking landing of Neptune, Surprise & Scarborough where bodie [...]


    • I thoroughly enjoyed this account of one particular ship load of convicts sent to Botany Bay in 1789 with its focus on real stories, general accounts and descriptions of what occurred during the voyage. Sian Rees investigated the mitigating factors behind the rise in prostitution and thievery in 18th century London, which was illuminating and quite disturbing. Life on board ship, both for the women and the crew sounds horrendous in the extreme, especially given Sian Rees description of the stenc [...]


    • I kept doubting this book's accuracy. For example,"By night, when 200 women were shut into the orlop hold, it was all rather less hygienic. The orlop was equipped with 'easing-chairs' or commodes. The most prized berths were furthest from these and closest to the hatches, which gave some ventilation. The majority of women had now been living together in an all-female environment for months, even years, and their menstrual cycles would have started to synchronise. One week each month, the distinc [...]


    • An interesting topic turned tedious. I had to put it down because it dragged so much that my interest faded. Too much time was spent on an endless list of women and their petty crimes without any real direction; like reading a list of records.You also need to have previous knowledge of the history during that era in order to know certain locations and terms that aren't defined for you; which I found frustrating.


    • Although I found myself losing interest at points, it is a decent recounting of how Imperial Britain disposed of some of the criminal riff-raff from the overcrowded jails and streets while furthering colonial interests. This book follows the plight of a ship populated by female miscreants on their journey to New South Wales. I wouldn't say it was compelling reading, but for people interested in social history, maritime history, it is not bad. I enjoyed the description of the stop in Rio.


    • Despite its rather salubrious title this book is an excellent, well researched history of a women's transport ship to the then penal colony of Australia. The women could be transported for as little as stealing a handkerchief. The book centers on several real women and shows the hardships they had to endure during the long voyage. A must for anyone interested in history.


    • It's odd to read a non-fiction book that doesn't weave facts into a narrative, and it took a few chapters for me to get into this. Once Rees started to create atmosphere - smells, tastes, textures - I was hooked. If you can get past the rather dry beginning, it's worth it.


    • I enjoyed the book. I am a history lover and the details were clear. It is a story that brought compassion for the difficulty women and men faced at the time. My only disappointment was that the author did not give more follow up on what happened to the women after the journey.



    • The middle 1780s were a tumultuos time in England. The end of the American Revolution saw a demobilised army of Brits and Hessian mercenaries fill the streets of English towns creating much displacement, poverty and crime. It was also the eve of the colonization of Australia at the nascent settlement of Sydney Cove. The settlers had sent ships back to England asking for supplies, skilled laboring men and women to balance out the gender mix (early stage colonization could be a bit of a sausage fe [...]


    • This book was (almost) everything I want from a microhistory (or is it a case study?), my one criticism being that I would have liked to have seen some sources cited. Nothing the author wrote struck me as particularly suspect or dubious - in fact, I thought she took a careful and diligent approach to complex issues the story threw up, and the particular difficulties of looking at them through modern eyes - but still. At least a bibliography at the end would have been nice!Apart from that, I love [...]


    • First off, I think the concept is brilliant. It's provocative and unapologetic and well researched. There are certainly points that I thought had potential to be excellent, and had they been narrated better then perhaps would have made for a good novel. However, the synopsis fails to mention how you may as well read a historical essay or dissertation because of how little characterisation there is. You feel little empathy or attachment because the narrator is so confused: it isn't clearly explai [...]


    • This is probably a 3.5 book. The story was interesting but there were so many people involved and it went into a lot of details in some areas that I found it a bit hard going in bits. It was almost like an academic study. Also my copy did not have enough white space and the paragraphs ran into each other so that also made it a bit hard to read.


    • What an enlightening and absolutely ripping yarn this is! A brilliant account of the unbelievable misfortune of a large group of female convicts, their long journey by sea, and their resilience during the early settlement in Sydney. A “must read” for anyone who knows Sydney and who loves Australian history.



    • I haven't read any first fleet/second fleet/colonial history of Australia at all so it was all new and interesting, and I liked Rees' breezy style.





    • It's a long while since I read a factual book and at times the sheer amount of historical data made it tough going but it was a really interesting read. It's the story of a shipload of female convicts sent out to Sydney Cove to join the first struggling convey of convict settlers out there, they were being sent over and 'comfort and breeding stock' for the largely male population. Fascinating, brutal and gritty showing the reality of those who had to scrape to get by in the late 1700s.


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