Perhaps not as well known as Valeria and Belit, Helen Tavrel is a also notorious female pirate and adventuress. She appeared in Howards story ‘The Isle of Pirates’ Doom written in 1928. The story did not sell.

As luck had it, Helen ended up going on the run, as her crewmates wanted more than piracy comradeship from her. So, when the ship wrecked on the shore of a deserted island somewhere in the Caribbeans where they hope to find a vast hidden treasure, Helen chooses to leave them. Ashore is the shipwrecked sailor Stephen Harmer, and the two of them reluctantly partner up to find the treasure before the other pirates did. Everyone converges at a temple where the pirates are all killed by the traps of the temple, but Harmer himself becomes so badly wounded that he actually ended up blacking out. Helen drags him back to the beach. After his recovery, Harmer was so smitten with Helen that he asked her to marry him, but she refused, and they parted ways.

Robert E. Howard described Helen as follows when Stephen Harmer first notices that it is a woman he looks upon:

Now I looked for the first time at the face. It was a delicate oval with red lips that curled in mockery, large grey eyes that danced, and only then did I realize that I was looking at a woman and not a man. One hand rested saucily on her hip, the other held a long ornately-hilted rapier-and with a twitch of repulsion I saw a trace of blood on the blade.

Helen is not shy and her language is befitting a rogue.

“Ha, I struck a spark then?” she laughed in a hard way. “Satan’s Fiends, if I’m to answer for all the corpses I’ve made, ’twill be a wearisome reckoning.”


“I am probably the finest pistol shot in the world,” said the girl modestly, “but the blade is my darling.”

Raised by Roger O’Farrel, who took her off a sinking ship when she was a baby and raised her like a daughter. She took to the life of a rover and the life of adventure. As far as we know Howard didn’t write any more stories about miss Tavrel.

The ending of ‘The Isle of Pirates’ Doom’ suggests that Howard might have wanted Helen and Harmer to go through further exploits in search of Roger O’Farrel, but he probably gave up when the story failed to sell.

Source: Wikipedia, Wikisource, Teaser image by Min Gyu Lee and Silken Swords by Fred Blosser.