Victorian Lady Travellers

Dorothy Middleton gathers up into her heavy skirts a list of women globetrotters from the Victorian era. Some I’d heard of and had read their accounts in their own words: Isabella Bird’s jaunt around the Western US (Colorado, especially), and Mary Kingsley’s superb and hilarious Travels in West Africa. With those two as a recommendation, I grabbed the book to learn about the other travelers yet unknown to me.
Marianne North roamed the planet first with her father, then solo after his death, painting as she went through the tropics of Jamaica and Brazil, then through the redwoods near San Francsico. North’s journeys are described in her three volume Recollections of a Happy Life, and Further Reflections, but something prevents me from rushing out to read these. Another of the explorers I’m not keen on learning more about is Annie Taylor, missionary in Tibet. Also Kate Marsden, whose missionary work led her to explore vast amounts of Siberia traveling to leper colonies.
Fanny Bullock Workman strikes me as a much more entertaining subject – she lead her husband around Europe and India on bicycle tours, the two of them on bikes laden down with their possessions, including a tea kettle from the handlebars. Fanny’s pictured in the book displaying a Votes for Women placard at the pinnacle of a mountain summit on the Karakoram Range (Central/South Asia). They frequently had to brandish pistols at marauders on the road as they bicycled through Spain, Java, Sumatra.
May French Sheldon was a wealthy American woman who made her first journey around the world at age sixteen. She headed to East Africa in 1891 and captured the journey in Sultan to Sultan, which seems worth a read. Nicknamed Bébé Bwana by the natives (Swahili for “Lady Boss”), she found a way into the crater on the slopes of Kilamanjaro and pontooned around Lake Chala flying the Stars & Stripes.