11 Non-Fiction Books About Famous Women That You Should Read

11 of 12

Cover to Rejected Princesses, by Jason Porath. Image via publisher Dey Street Books.

2. Rejected Princesses

Think of this as a slightly larger companion to Rad Women Worldwide. Jason Porath’s Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, & Heretics started life as a website which still updates every Wednesday.

Now, Porath has collected 100 profiles of women in history and folklore alike for the first volume of his work. However, Porath actually illustrates entries, and as he’s a former DreamWorks Animation animator, well, the illustrations are pretty great (and cartoony, too, which isn’t a bad thing).

The book takes a playfully irreverent tone while also including an 11-page (we counted) bibliography with a wealth of resources. Moreover, the book divides entries up by maturity level, with 1 being the tamest and 5 being the most mature. Elizabeth Bathory gets a 5; Florence Nightengale and Mary Seacole get a 1 for their double entry. Indeed, Porath actually includes content notices for violence, abuse, sex, rape, and self-harm for entries that include those things.

Furthermore, art notes are included, explaining why certain things appear in each illustration. That earns plenty of praise on Goodreads.

Don’t skip over the footnotes, either: they’re also hilarious.

Additional reading includes entries on the blog, and picking things out of the bibliography like Joan Druett’s She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea or Antonia Fraser’s The Warrior Queens, which is also on this list.