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Balloonomania Belles (ePub)

Daredevil Divas who First Took to the Sky

P&S History > Social History Women of History

By Sharon Wright
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
File Size: 5.1 MB (.epub)
Pages: 175
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781526708366
Published: 26th February 2018


£4.99 Print price £19.99

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National publicity

As featured in the Daily Express (November 2019).

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.

As featured in

International Express

As featured in

Daily Express 6/11/19

As featured by Hisdoryan

Hisdoryan, Claire Miles

As featured on Magonia Review of Books

Magonia Review

Balloonmania Belles provides a detailed description of the most remarkable ladies to first fly in balloons. The women above just scratches the surface of the depths of the lives of these women, and are only some of the other women mentioned in the book. The information seems largely based on autobiographies of the ladies themselves or newspaper articles from the period. It’s amazing to consider the bravado and courage of these women and overall is certainly worth a read! Balloonmania Belles gives a glimpse into the lives of fearless ladies who craved adventure, and chronicles some unusual paths taken in relation to other women of the era.

Read the full review here

Femme Fashion Forward

It tells of the risk and daring of artists (emotional strength), scientists (great knowledge), and athletes (physical strength) throughout the UK, France, and US that took to the skies at the detriment of the weather, use of hydrogen, illness and serious, often fatal injuries.

GoodReads, Kristine Fisher

I love how easy on this eye this book is, the cover is so eye-catching and it hint at the fabulously fun stories within. Ms Wright has a fabulous writing style, it’s fun and entertaining, the history of the women featured in this book is right here for you to delve into, yet it’s not in your face or heavy that you fall asleep mid chapter. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, it’s lively and captivating, full of rich and vivid historic detail and beautiful pictures that gives the book a whole lighter and engaging tone, which makes this wonderfully easy to read.

If you love your aeronautical history and brilliantly plucky and fascinating women then this is the book you need to read, I think it is fabulous.

Read the full review here

Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Anyone with a penchant for ballooning history, or for flying females, would do well to add this volume to their library.

The Aviation Historian, Issue No 28

A simply brilliant history that rescues from undeserved obscurity a roster of pioneering women in the very beginning of the age of aviation, "Balloonomania Belles: Daredevil Divas who First Took to the Sky" is an inherently fascinating and impressively informative read from cover to cover.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

The real life stories of women balloonists will entertain readers as they embark on a journey through the unpredictable and incredible.

Essex Family History Society

This book is fun and lively—an uplifting treatment of an uplifting subject.

Read the full review here

Speed Readers

Entertaining chronological history of the women who got in to hot air balloons almost as soon as the were invented in the late eighteenth century and who were chucking themselves out of them in the early twentieth century, for fun and money. This is the story of aristos and actresses, taken by the thought of flight and taking their places with there male contemporaries in the skies. It’s an obscure bit of history, but still fascinating. Easy to read and sufficiently detailed, this book is the place to start if you’re interested in the history of aeronautical women.

I found the incidental commentary on the changing technology involved in ballooning, the use of various gases and the development of parachutes, as well as attitudes towards women ballooners, interesting. Rather than being a strict ‘this woman was the first to do this, this woman did this’, the book covered all sorts of little details that add colour to the time period.

Rosie Writes... Blog

Publicity post Guildford Book Festival

'I shared a hilarious afternoon with Sharon Wright, as she related tales of aeronautical lady-balloonists.

Her fly-high sense of fun effectively heightened the daring-do of those early women pioneers who first took to the skies in the 1700s and later made perilous parachute jumps too. Who knew they had? As Sharon Wright confirmed, “You do, now!” I wasn’t alone when tasing at their bravery and astonished that original documentation has been archived and still exists' - Jeff Thomson

Surrey Advertiser, 2018

You couldn’t want for a better antidote to pinkness than these tales of girls and women unleashing their pluck and inventiveness in the unregulated age of balloonomania...This is history at its most satisfying.

Read the full review here

Damesnet, Verity

As featured here

Vauxhall History

Author article 'High Society' as featured by

The Lady, 7th September 2018

Startling new research.

Cardiff Times, April 2018

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.

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.

Historical Novels Review

Featured article: "Up, Up and away."

Jane Austen's Regency World

Click here to listen

Woman's Hour, 13th July 2018

As featured by

Surrey 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.

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.

The Journal of the British Balloon Museum & Library

An interesting book.

Evergreen, June 2018

Author article: Mistress of the Winds' cheated death and ruled the skies as featured by

New 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 Bryne

'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'.

Bristol Post, 1st May 2018

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.

Highly recommended.

Read the complete review here.

Naomi Clifford, Author

Article: 'Teenager Louisa's first flight in balloon ended in tragedy' by Brian Lee as featured by

South 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 by

Keighley News, 22nd March 2018

Article: 'Dramatic death of daredevil' by Julia Armstrong as featured in

The Star, 17th March 2018

Click here to listen

Note: set cursor to 1:01:42 for interview

BBC Radio Merseyside, 20th March 2018

Click here to read author guest blog, Unearthing the lost history of the lady aeronauts, as featured by

Family 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 in

Mail on Sunday 24/2/18

About Sharon Wright

Sharon Wright is an author, journalist and playwright. She has worked as a writer, editor and columnist for magazines, newspapers and websites including The Guardian, Daily Express, BBC, Glamour, Red, The Lady and New York Post. Her first book, Balloonomania Belles, was serialised in The Mail on Sunday and Sharon was a guest on BBC Woman's Hour. The revised and updated paperback The Lost History of the Lady Aeronauts is out April 2021. She is also the author of critically acclaimed plays performed in London and Yorkshire.
For further information please contact Sharon Wright sharonwrightauthor@gmail.com or Lucy May at Pen & Sword History promotions@pen-and-sword.co.uk

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