Calico Jack, Anne Bonny and Mary Read

As a part of my Honours year of University, I spent the year looking into how stories are told through images, and created a series of manipulated photographs based on my findings.

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This series will explore the stories of Anne Bonny, Mary Read and “Calico” Jack Rackham. Upon discovering her husband only married her for her huge tracts of land, Anne’s father disowned her, leaving Anne’s with no property or inheritance. Her marriage grew sour, and Anne came to spend many a night at the dockside bars, befriending sailors and pirates alike. It was here that she met Jack Rackham, an ex-pirate that was living on land after accepting a pardon from the king. Despite being married, Anne was infatuated by Jack, and the two became a couple.


Upon Anne’s husband finding out, Jack offered to buy his wife off him, an offer which was quickly dismissed. Anne was sentenced to be whipped as a punishment, but before the sentence was carried out, Jack helped Anne escape and disguise herself as a man before stealing a ship in he middle of the night. As women weren’t allowed on ships, Jack and Anne kept quiet.


During their time upon the seas, Captain Jack’s crew captured another ship upon which “Mark” Read was sailing. Mark and many of his fellow sailors joined Jacks crew and assimilated to the pirate life. Mark grew to desire Anne Read, who was still disguised as a man. When Mark tried to press himself on Anne, Anne revealed to him that she was really a woman. Mark in turn also revealed that he was a woman named Mary disguised as a man.


Mary and Anne kept each others secret quiet until Jack grew jealous of Anne being such good friends with another man, which lead to Mary revealing her identity to Jack. No other crew members new of the girls secrets, which Mary played to her advantage.


Mary and another sailor had fallen in love, but after a short time he ended up in a disagreement with a stronger sailor than he was. As many fights out at sea were settled, the two agreed to meet ashore the next day when they set anchor, and duel with swords.


Mary knew that he would not win the fight, and so she sneakily re-organised the fight for an hour earlier, so she could get their first and fight instead. Her plan worked, and although Mary was a fierce fighter, she knew halfway through that she would not win and soon be cut down. To distract her opponent, Mary ripped open her tunic and exposed her breasts. In his moment of confusion and shock, Mary moved fast and killed the man.


The crew was taken by surprise whilst drinking and celebrating the successful capture of a small vessel. As all of the crew were too drunk, it is alleged that only Mary and Anne put up any fight to stop the sailors clambering on board. Once taken into custody, Mary and Anne revealed that they were both pregnant, allowing them to be the only two crew members to escape the hangman’s noose.


As Captain Jack Rackham spent his last night alive in a gaol cell, he was visited by his lover, Anne Bonny. Her last words to him were nothing short of a representation of her ruthful nature and hellcat personality:
“Had you fought like a man, you need not have been hang’d like a dog.”

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