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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Listed: Girls Disguised as Boys

Reading Georgette Heyer’s The Corinthian got me thinking about books where girls disguise themselves as boys to get by in the world. There are so many out there, especially in fantasy or historical fiction, it seems.

Here are ten that I’ve stumbled across:

  1. Viola in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Written 1601-1602. LT.
  2. Alanna of Trebond in Tamora Pierce’s Alanna: The First Adventure. Originally Published 1983. LT.
  3. Polly Perks in Terry Pratchett’s Monstrous Regiment. Originally Published 2003. LT.
  4. Dona St. Columb in Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek. Originally Published 1942. LT.
  5. Romilly MacAran in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Hawkmistress!. Originally Published 1982. LT.
  6. Éowyn in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Originally appears in The Two Towers; originally published 1955. LT.
  7. Mary Faber in L.A. Meyer’s Bloody Jack. Originally Published 2002. LT.
  8. Haruhi Fujioka in Bisco Hatori’s Ouran High School Host Club manga. Originally Published 2003. LT.
  9. Sarah Louisa in Ann Rinaldi’s Girl In Blue. Originally Published 2001. LT.
  10. Penelope Creed in Georgette Heyer’s The Corinthian. Originally Published 1940. LT.

What other books can you think of that have girls (or women) disguised as guys (or men) in them?

Do you like this feature? You should also check out Librarian’s Book Reviews’ Listless Monday and A Bookshelf Monstrosity’s Books By A Theme.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:17 am March 1, 2010.
Category: Listed

  • Shannon

    I keep wondering if I should read another book by Daphne du Maurier. I read Rebecca and really liked it. Are her other works as good?

  • Nymeth

    Ooh – awesome list! Another good one is Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeves.

  • Katherine

    I can think of Rosalind in As You Like It… Shakespeare seemed to like his women dressed as boys. Cynthia Voight had one of her heriones (can’t remember which one) dress as a boy. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles also had one of her characters, Lucy, dress as a boy so that she could be a doctor on a ship (I think it’s book # 11 or 12 in the Morland Dynasty series).

  • Lana

    Oh, this is one of my favorite tropes actually!

    Others I can think of:
    Deryn Sharp in Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
    Eona in Eon: Rise of the Dragoneye by Alison Goodman
    Kim in Mairelon the Magician by Patricia Wrede
    Alice in A Murder for Her Majesty by Beth Hilgartner
    Pope Joan in Pope Joan by Donna Cross
    Joanna in The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson

  • raidergirl3

    I was coming in to make sure that Pope Joan was listed.
    Huck Finn dresses as a girl in one chapter, but I guess that’s the reverse.

    Also, Cue for Treason contains this plot point. But putting a book in this list can be a bit of spoiler, since it can be a big reveal in a book.

  • Lisa

    I’m trying to decide whether The Tamír Triad by Lynn Flewelling would fit. The main character is a girl that is magically disguised as a boy (from birth) to protect her from being murdered by the king (her uncle).

  • Teresa (Chrissy)

    I was going to mention Rosalind from As You Like It but I see someone else has lol. Still Viola and Éowyn! Yay!!

  • kiirstin

    Deryn from Leviathan got mentioned, I see — and I think the Cynthia Voigt character is from Jackaroo, although to be honest I can’t remember her name either, and my copy’s not handy. I’m not wild about this particular trope myself, but I’ll admit if done well it can be quite excellent.

  • heidenkind

    Oh, there are tons, especially if you read romance novels! I know Bri in Dragonfly in Amber dressed as a boy. Unfortunately I can’t really remember any other titles at the moment.

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