The first woman circumnavigator

Jeanne Baret (1740-1807) was a French housekeeper who became the first known woman to circumnavigate the World. While working as the housekeeper of naturalist Philibert Commerson, she became more involved with him and they started an affair.

Commerson was asked to join an expedition to circumnavigate the World in 1766. Due to ill health (and also perhaps out of love), he wanted Baret to join him, but women were strictly forbidden on French navy ships. They came up with the plan to disguise Baret as a man. It worked. Because they had a private room and toilet, Baret’s gender was only discovered about 2 years after the start, during a stay in Tahiti. By that time, she had already won the respect of the crew as one of the hardest working “men” and continued the journey until she was back in France.

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By Unkwown (18th century print. Reproduction in [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons