Mistress of the Seas
AuthorJohn Carlova
SubjectAnne Bonny
Genrehistorical drama
PublisherCitadel Press
Publication date
Publication placeUSA

Mistress of the Seas is a 1964 novel by John Carlova based on the life of pirate Anne Bonny.


In 1952 Carlova was researching another project at the British Museum when he read about Anne Bonny. He later researched Bonny's life in the West Indies and tried to sell the idea of a book on her to publishers but none were interested. A magazine expressed interest in a shorter version, and Carlova wrote an 80,000 word piece. However, the magazine only wanted a short article, which Carlova wrote. In 1962 a publisher's representative read the article in a magazine in a barber and became excited about the possibilities of the story as a book, "a kind of seagoing Forever Amber." He asked Carlova if he was interested in adapting it and Carlova submitted the 80,000 word manuscript. It was accepted for publication by Citadel Press.[1]

Historical Accuracy

Although Carlova claimed the information in Mistress of the Sea was all true, many historians strongly believe it to merely be a work of fiction. David Fictum calls the novel "fiction" and claims it is the origin of Bonny's parents' names, William Cormac and Peg Brennan.[2] Journalist Tony Bartelme noted that while Carlova claimed extensive archival research, he does not cite or include specific sources backing up his numerous claims.[3]

Film adaptation

A number of attempts were made to turn the book into a film, including:


  1. ^ Weinstock, Matt (25 September 1962). "This writer's pirate ship finally came in". The Los Angeles Times. p. 32. (subscription required)
  2. ^ Fictum, David. "Anne Bonny and Mary Read: Female Pirates and Maritime Women". Colonies, Ships, and Pirates. 8 May 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2023.
  3. ^ Bartelme, Tony. "The true and false stories of Anne Bonny, pirate woman of the Caribbean". The Post and Courier. 21 November 2018. Retrieved 6 October 2023.
  4. ^ Kilday, Gregg (12 April 1978). "Harvey:Movies Back to Back". The Los Angeles Times. p. 8 Part 4. (subscription required)
  5. ^ Lochte, Dick (16 August 1981). "Book Notes". The Los Angeles Times. p. 2 Book Review. (subscription required)
  6. ^ Frook, John Evan (13 July 1993). "Verhoeven exits Col's 'Mistress of the Seas'". Variety. Retrieved 4 March 2023.