Celia Rees


Pirates! cover


The true and remarkable adventures of Minerva Sharpe and Nancy Kington, Female Pyrates. What would make two young women take to the high seas and a life of piracy? Nancy Kington is the daughter of a rich merchant, Minerva Sharpe a slave on her father’s plantation. Divided by birth and fortune, together these two find friendship and break the bounds of gender, race and social position to follow their own destiny.

Pirates! was shortlisted for the W. H. Smith 2004 Book Awards

Visit the Pirates mini-site

Pirates cover French editionNew! – A fragment from the unpublished Further True and Remarkable Adventures of Minerva Sharpe and Nancy Kington, Female Pirates. Read on…

Celia’s comments

Pirates! came from an exchange of e mails with my editor about an episode in Sorceress where Mary meets a buccaneer. He’s a very attractive character, but there could be no room for him in Mary’s life as I had planned it, so I suggested that I might write a book about a girl who runs away with a pirate. This quickly turned into a girl who becomes a pirate. Then there were two girls running away together.

It seemed a good way to go.


‘This is a brilliantly written adventure story, told in the first person, by the author of the highly original Witch Child and Sorceress. Once again, Rees uses a strong female lead to gain the reader’s empathy right from the start, and she produces some truly memorable moments.’ Bookseller Teenage Reading Choice

‘Swashbuckling, keelhauling adventures abound on the high seas in Celia Rees’s Pirates! This is a novel of action-packed and romantic storytelling, with strong characters and vivid text which will have universal appeal. Rees is an increasingly respected author, and this novel will undoubtedly widen her audience and further her popularity.’ Barbara Pendrigh, The Bookseller

‘Rees draws on the lives of actual pirates to create a colourful masterpiece.’ Waterstone’s Books Quarterly

‘.piracy is definitely in… Celia Rees is very good at reimagining the past in a way that doesn’t reduce it but which at the same time is devoid of the pishtushery that sometimes blights historical novels. Her research is skilfully concealed so that the story reaches us clear and true, untarnished by any olde-worlde fustiness. Bartolome the Brazilian, who is a terrific baddy and worth his weight in gold as far as this narrative is concerned. .Many adventures ensue, of the kind that fans of this genre will love to read about. The book ends with happiness, hope and a delightful revelation. Rees is good at both landscape and seascape, and her lovers are touching without being sentimental. Bloomsbury’s characteristically stylish cover will appeal more to girls, but the title alone might draw boys to pick this one off the shelf. This is as swashbuckling a yarn as anyone could wish for.’ Adele Geras, The Guardian

‘A swashbuckling, ruby-red tale of exploitation, adventure and true love, this is by far the best read this autumn. Give this to your children to read and the words will create vividly coloured pictures in their mind. Which is what you want from a book, after all.’ Dina Rabinovitch, The Guardian

‘Well-known for her ability to write gripping stories featuring strong, intelligent female characters, Celia Rees has yet another compelling read in Pirates! The relationship between the two gutsy girls is particularly well drawn and details of primitive amputation techniques, scurby-rotten gums and the Pirate Code give a vivid impression of life at the end of the golden age of piracy.’ Financial Times

‘The story is absorbing, full of surprises, moving and revealing. The Amazonian Minerva is a splendid figure.’ Jan Mark, TES

‘A rollocking tale of slavery, sisterhood, blackhearted bridegrooms and, of course, treasure. There were, of course, women pirates, and it is splendid to see them so thoroughly imagined in a genre dominated by boys. As in her bestselling Witch Child, Rees excels at describing the way her characters flout convention, and draws on the work of the great Daniel Defoe to do so. Her descriptions.have just the right amount of realism. One of the best features of the novel is the amount of history that young readers will absorb. Beautifully written and gloriously good-hearted, Pirates! is a treasure of a book to give to any girl or boy.’ Amanda Craig, The Times

‘Author of the highly successful teenage historical novels Witch Child and Sorceress, Celia Rees has surpassed herself in this totally gripping new novel.The period details is wonderfully rich and never tedious. A gritty romantic thriller.’ Irish Post

‘Children of this age [8–12] aspire to be teenagers, and never more so than when given a rip-roaring tale about them. Celia Rees has followed the best-selling Witch Child with Pirates! Superbly well-written, this rollocking romance is pure joy.’ The Times (Christmas Books)

"I also read this new book called Pirates! by Celia Rees which was a huge inspiration to me this year. The story is all about female pirates, which is just totally my kind of thing anyway. But as well as adoring the romance, I was also genuinely inspired by the strength and the belief that comes through from the story’s protagonist. I really recommend this book." Sharleen Spiteri of Texas, writing in the Scottish Herald about ‘My 2003’

Swashbuckling in the tradition of every pirate tale, from Treasure Island to Pirates of the Caribbean, Pirates! is truly gripping from first page to last and never fails to be totally entertaining throughout. – John McLay