Bygone Badass Broads:52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World


Title: Bygone Badass Broads

Writer: Mackenzi Lee (illustrations by Petra Ericsson)

Publishing House: Abrams Image

Date of Publication: February 27th 2018

Rating: 5 stars

‘’They span time, the globe, socioeconomic situations, sexual and gender identities, and races. They are queens, scientists, athletes, politicians, spies, warriors, peacemakers, criminals and scoundrels. They are trendsetters, barrier breakers, innovators, and rebels.’’

Outstanding, brilliantly beautiful work by Mackenzi Lee. I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved this book in which she presents 52 women who deserve to be much more famous than they are. Women from all over the world, women of every race and social status that achieved minuscule (NOT) things such as overthrowing dictators, curing diseases, resisting oppression, doubting and crushing every gender stereotypes of a male-dominated world.

Lee writes in a comprehensive, direct and concise way, presenting the facts in engaging, fun language. The humorous tidbits are tasteful and delightful without becoming sarcastic or rude. Having in mind that a number of these glorious women’s lives are a mix of fact, fiction and hear-say, Lee’s task becomes even more demanding but she passes the test with flying colours. She doesn’t build magnanimous pedestals but composes short, comprehensive biographies of women who vary from heroines, to leaders, to athletes, to criminals. Intelligent, dangerous, brave, alluring but, most importantly, fiercely determined to earn the right to live according to their rules, resisting and breaking the bars of patriarchy and prejudice.

The 52 women are all marvelous, but here are my absolute favourites:

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για bygone badass broads chinese

(illustration by Petra Eriksson)

Empress Xi Ling Shi, the woman who discovered sericulture and invented the silk loom, creating the legendary Silk Road that still continues to excite our imagination. She became a Chinese deity for her efforts. Not bad…

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για bygone badass broads Hatshepsut

(illustration by Petra Eriksson)

Hatshepsut, the first female Pharaoh, who took the throne after her husband’s death- because she could- and ruled her people in prosperity for 22 years.

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για agnodice

Agnodice, the woman who disguised herlself as a man to practice medicine in Ancient Athens. And guess what? She succeeded in the end because Athenian women are made of wonders.

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για arawelo bygone badass broads

(illustration by Petra Eriksson)

Arawelo, a legendary queen of Somalia, who discarded every gender stereotype by creating a government consisting entirely of women. At the same time, she and her awesome cabinet showed the men what taking care of a household truly demands.

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για queen christina of sweden bygone

(illustration by Petra Eriksson)

Queen Christina of Sweden. Naturally, Sweden would have one of the coolest monarchs ever. Peacemaker, protector of the Arts, advocate of religious equality, hater of matrimony and all-around awesome person. No surprise really, given her homeland.

Mariya Oktyabrskaya: Fue la primera tanquista en convertirse en Heroína. Nació en Crimea (Ucrania) 16 de agosto de 1905.Con 38 años el 21 de octubre de 1943 Mariya participo en su primera batalla. Durante un ataque nocturno su tanque fue impactado y ella salió a reparalo, bajo intenso fuego enemigo y un trozo de metal golpeo su cabeza quedando inconsciente. Estuvo en estado de coma 2 meses muriendo el 15 de marzo de 1944.

Mariya Oktyabrskaya, an extraordinary woman from Russia who blew the guts of many Nazi scums to pieces while inside her very own tank, aptly named Fighting Girlfriend. She took part in the Battle of Kursk, enough said.

Σχετική εικόνα

Irena Sendler, a Polish nurse who fought against religious discrimination from an early age  and saved more than 2,500 Jewish children from the nightmare of the ghetto during WWII.


(illustration by Petra Eriksson)

Azucena Villaflor, an Argentinian mother, who organised the first demonstrations against the ‘’disappearances’’ ( the desaparecidos)  of young people who were deemed ‘’rebels’’ by the military dictatorship of the country during the 70s. And we all know what it means to ‘’disappear’’ when fascists are in power, don’t we?

Petra Eriksson has created 52 absolutely beautiful portraits of each woman,painted in bold colours in a style combining pop art and poster illustrations. Fabulous! To see more of her beautiful work, visit

Can you tell that I fell utterly in love with this book? I think you can and I urge you to read it, keep it in your collection as one of the jewels of your bookcase, a treasure of courage, empowerment and the fervent, everlasting fight and determination of women who succeeded on their own terms and became pioneers in their fields.





  1. gwalsh1985 says:

    This is an interesting list. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Rejected Princesses? There are some books that I need to look into but it’s pretty much along the same vein – kick ass women of the world and history who have been forgotten. Some of the women included are not so much kick ass but are notorious for other (not always good) reasons like Elisabeth Bathory but it’s interesting to see how we gloss over women of any kind in history!


    1. I know:) Like many notorious women, Bathory is now believed to be a victim of male propaganda, something too common and familiar even in our “progressive” era…


  2. Grainne (Darkly Whimsical Reader) says:

    I’m so excited to read this!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amazing review Amalia, can’t wait to read it! The book I’m currently reading touches a similar subject, with some of the same women, but it’s poorly written and I don’t think all facts are true. So I hope to read Bygone Badass Broads soon to compare facts and because I suspect writing in this one is better + I love anything illustrated! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Marina! I am really really looking forward to your review, it’s been on my list for ages….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! It should be up later today if I manage to finish it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Konstantin says:

    Fantastic review, Amalia! 🙂 I adored Christina, always have, always will. Loved the notion that “Athenian women are made of wonders” – it made me laugh way too hard.

    By the way, I can finally say that I’m done writing my historical mystery featuring Nell Gwyn and Catherine of Braganza and – guess who? – Christina of Sweden! But I don’t think it’s “too much” of a coincidence for her to come over to England, because my novel is 569 Word pages long, font Times New Roman, pt 12. I wish I could share it with someone but I really can’t. 🙂 Anyway, just wanted to say you this. Thank you for the support at the start of my writing! Now I can hide this under the carpet and pretend this never happened – it’s anachronistic and clumsily written – but I must say I had fun researching for it and writing it. Nothing of this was serious, but it was enjoyable and that’s what mattered the most, for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, my God! Nell, Catherine and Christina in a single novel…I remember when we were discussing about it…I wish I could read it. You have such a talent with writing, Konstantin, and your views are so accurate. I really, really hope I read your creations one day. For me, you are a true writer and I say this in all honesty.


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