A couple of days ago I mentioned that I have a fascination with stories about girls dressing as boys. While I realize there is a whole gender bending aspect to this phenomenon, for myself it's more an historical interest. You've probably heard the saying that "well-behaved women rarely make history"? It often seems that women have been stuck on the sidelines when it comes to adventures and escapades. At least historically, though not so much today, thankfully. One way to get around the dilemma of being female and stuck in petticoats was to switch from skirt to pants, long hair to short. In essence a woman had to be someone she wasn't in order to open up otherwise closed avenues. Sometimes she had to pass herself off as a man in order just to survive.
This of course started me thinking of the stories I'd read where girls dressed as boys, or if you will, women as men. I'm afraid I couldn't come up with thirteen novels, however. I suspect there are loads out there that I haven't thought of or read.
This year there was Shakespeare's Twelfth Night with a shipwrecked Viola who as a woman alone finds it easier to move more freely about a foreign country dressed as a boy. Needless to say, that caused just a little bit of havoc.
I've already noted Chandra Prasad's On Borrowed Wings about a young woman who takes the opportunity of a scholarship won by her brother (who died in an accident) in order to make a better life for herself outside the smally quarry town she was raised in.
Litlove suggested a Belinda Jack's George Sand: A Woman's Life Writ Large. I read Sand's novel Indiana a year or two ago. Sand dressed as a man in public, which was no doubt highly scandalous, but allowed her access to venues where women were prohibited from entering. (Must read this one!).
Kingston by Starlight by Christopher John Farley is based on the true story of pirate Anne Bonny who goes to sea dressed as a boy. I expect this happened quite often.
Clare Langley-Hawthorne's first Ursula Marlowe mystery, Consequences of Sin has Ursula dressing as a man as she travels by ship (alone) to Venezuela during her inquiries into the murder of a friend.
In Jonatha Ceely's Mina a young girl whose family has perished in the Irish potato famine of the 1840s can only find work in a great house if she dresses as a boy. She becomes the cook's assistant and embarks on a series of adventures/journeys that will eventually take her all the way to America.
Lastly, I'll be reading Georgette Heyer's The Corinthian soon. In this unusual Heyer novel a young heiress decides she's not going to marry the man chosen for her (well, perhaps that part's not so unusual), and to make her escape she dresses as a boy.
Dare I ask if anyone's read a book with a girl leading the adventurous life as a boy, so I can fill out my list? I wonder how many women disguised as men fought in the Civil War (or other wars for that matter?). I bet there must be examples going as far back as the Classics!