Balloonomania Belles (Hardback)
Daredevil Divas who First Took to the Sky
As featured in the Mail on Sunday (February 2018), read the full article online here.
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Balloonomania Belles reveals the astonishing stories of the fabulous female pioneers of balloon flight. More than a century before the first aeroplane women were heading for the heavens in crazy, inspired contraptions that could bring death or glory and all too often, both. Award-winning journalist Sharon Wright reveals their hair-raising adventures in a book that brings the stories of the feisty female ballooning heroines together for the first time.
Women were in the vanguard of the “Balloonomania” craze that took hold in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and swept across Europe then the world. Their exploits were a vital element of our first voyages into the sky. When women’s options were often severely limited by law and convention they managed to join the exhilarating quest for spectacle, adventure and danger among the clouds.
Many of the brightest stars of this extraordinary era of human flight were women. From the perilous ascent in 1784 by feisty French teenager Elisabeth Thible, female aeronauts have never looked back… or down. Who were these brave women who took to the air when it was such an incredibly dangerous and scandalous thing to do? Sharon Wright brings together in one book the show-stopping stories of the very first flying women.
You can’t keep a good woman down! This was certainly true of the early balloonists. The world’s first manned flight took place in Paris on 21 November 1783; the first women to fly (four of them) took off from the same city six months later. This was a private ‘experiment’. The first public ascent by a female took place in Lyon the following month.Historical Novels Review
Ballooning was very much an equal opportunities activity. The only qualifications were raw courage and maybe half an hour’s parachute training. Since ballooning remained largely a public entertainment until the early 20th century, the first female balloonists were mostly actresses, but later on waitresses and runaway teenagers all took to the skies. It was horribly dangerous, and many died young.
Balloonomania Belles tells the story of the leading female balloonists in France, Britain and America from the 1780s to the 1910s. Eventually aeroplanes displaced balloons, leaving a new generation of women to pioneer a new form of flight.
Featured as cover storyJane Austen's Regency World, July/August 2018
Article: "Up, Up and away."Jane Austen's Regency World
Click here to listenWoman's Hour, 13th July 2018
As featured bySurrey Life, July 2018
A refreshingly good read for a book on ballooning charting the adventures and misadventures of women since the 1780s who were besotted with ballooning.The Journal of the British Balloon Museum & Library
Sharon has researched this book deeply. I read a lot of ballooning books but this one I enjoyed more than most. I really do recommend it.
An interesting book.Evergreen, June 2018
Author article: Mistress of the Winds' cheated death and ruled the skies as featured byNew York Post, 2nd June 2018
It is a lively and spirited read that may particularly appeal to those who are looking for an unusual twist or a different perspective for the next book on their reading list.All About History, June 2018
Article & review: 'Thousands witnessed parachutist plunge to her death' by Eugene BryneBristol Post, 1st May 2018
'Sharon Wright tells a fabulous tale, and has uncovered some terrific stories of long forgotten heroines of the air. Some stories are comic, many are tragic, many are a bit of both, and she tells it brilliantly'.
As featured in Library additions.Aero Society May 2018
A lively, well-written example of 'feelgood non-fiction', this story of life in a remarkable age is highly recommended.The Good Life, April/May 2018 - reviewed by Tim Harrison
Wright has presented her material well, and has an assured and readable style, with lots of colourful detail.Naomi Clifford, Author
Read the complete review here.
Article: 'Teenager Louisa's first flight in balloon ended in tragedy' by Brian Lee as featured bySouth Wales Echo, 20th April 2018
There always seems to be a surprise book, one that doesn’t appeal for some reason, but which turns out to be a really good read. Balloonomania Belles was that surprise book. Warmly recommended.Ripperologist, February/March 2018 – reviewed by Paul Begg
The author presents a fascinating account of how women eagerly took to the freedom of the skies to further their cause and express their freedom.Best of British, April 2018 - reviewed by David Brown
Article: 'Former reporter's book on balloon divas set to take off' as featured byKeighley News, 22nd March 2018
Article: 'Dramatic death of daredevil' by Julia Armstrong as featured inThe Star, 17th March 2018
Click here to listenBBC Radio Merseyside, 20th March 2018
Note: set cursor to 1:01:42 for interview
Click here to read author guest blog, Unearthing the lost history of the lady aeronauts, as featured byFamily Tree, 7th March 2018
I love the incredible exploits of these wonderfully daring female aviators. They were flamboyant, unconventional and courageous at a time when women had little opportunity to exploit their talents on the ground. As a fellow hot-air balloon pilot I understand their joy of merging with the wind and the sky, but without the risks these early pioneers dared to take.Carolinda Witt, balloonist and author of Double Agent Celery: MI5’s Crooked Spy
As featured inMail on Sunday 24/2/18