Mary Read was born in London and was the child of an affair like her friend and fellow pirate Anne Bonny. Mary's mother hid the news from relatives, dressed Mary up as the boy, and so continued to receive money that was given for the son's upbringing.
After tiring of serving as a footboy to a wealthy French woman, she spent time as a cabin boy on a warship before eventually fighting as a dragoon, where she met her future husband during the War of Spanish Succession.
Her pretending to be a man was over for a short time when they married, but his untimely death led her back to the only other life she'd ever known. She signed up to sail aboard a Dutch a ship bound for the West Indies, and when it reached the area, "Calico" Jack Rackham captured it and took Read and others to increase his crew...
The female pirate Anne Bonny was smitten with with the new 'male recruit', but became a close friend of Mary's upon discovering her true identity. Rackham quickly became jealous over what he saw as a man competing for Anne's attention, and so Mary's gender was revealed to him, as well. Some reports state that the true condition of these fierce pirates never became common knowledge among the crew.
Buy Flag (more info) In a short time, Mary developed a strong relationship with a fellow crew memeber, and, upon revealing her love and gender, her affection was returned as strongly. A quarrel arose between this man and another over Mary, and a duel was arranged to settle the matter. The fierce and proud Mary Read showed up early at the agreed place of engagement, fought the challenger with sword and pistol, and there dispatched him.
After the friendship with Anne Bonny and being tried for piracy with Rackham's crew, Read by most accounts contracted a virulent fever and died while still in prison.