Until late in the nineteenth century, few guidebooks acknowledged the presence of women as travelers--although women had been traveling around the world for centuries.
Women's accounts of their journeys, distinct from those of male travelers, began to appear more frequently in the early nineteenth century, and Egypt was a popular destination.
Women had more time to watch and describe; they were more dependent on the Egyptian staff; they spent time both in the harems of Cairo and with the women they met along the Nile.
Some of them, like Sarah Belzoni, Sophia Poole, and Ellen Chennells, spoke Arabic.
Others wrote engagingly of their experiences as observers of an exotic culture, with special access to some places no man could ever go.
From Eliza Fay's description of arriving in Egypt in 1779 to Rosemary Mahoney's daring trip down the Nile in a rowboat in 2006, this lively collection of writing by over forty women travelers includes Lady Evelyn Cobbold, Isabella Bird, Winifred Blackman, Norma Lorimer, Harriet Martineau, Florence Nightingale, Amelia Edwards, and Lucie Duff Gordon.