"A poet is a painter in his way, he draws to the life, but in another kind; we draw the nobler part, the soul and the mind; the pictures of the pen shall outlast those of the pencil, and even worlds themselves." - Aphra Behn
If you've never encountered Aphra, 17th century poet, playwright, and spy, take a moment now to dip her a curtsey (or make a bow) and be sure to wave a quill pen in the direction of her shade. As enchanting a character as ever waltzed out of the Restoration, Aphra wrote for the stage in a time when women were barely allowed to act upon it.
Like far more women than history books like to credit, she also traveled extensively, wandering about without much "male" protection that ladies were supposed to need -- although she may have suited up as a cavalier herself. >
Aphra pops up in a number of novels and plays. One of my personal favorites is Or, (the comma is an important part of the title). It's a delightful comedy about the creative mind as well as funny a farce with slamming doors and people hiding hither and yon. If it plays in a town near you, do go and enjoy it.
If you're looking for a woman to serve as a model for a swashbuckling adventure, you cannot do better than Aphra.
All women together, ought to let flowers fall upon the grave of Aphra Behn... for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds." - Virginia Woolf
This engraving of Aphra is based on a portrait by Mary Beale, who supported her family by painting portraits (one area that women were "allowed" to work in the arts). I rather like Aprha's look here -- there's something very determined about it.
I always enjoy reading about woman swashbucklers and enjoy writing such characters too. The heroine of Cold Steel & Secrets was inspired by a number of real female rebels and spies, including Aphra.