The Illustrated Virago Book of Women Travellers Paperback
Edited by Mary Morris, Larry O'Connor
Women move through the world differently from men. The constraints and perils, the perceptions and complex emotions women journey with are different.
For many women, the inner landscape is as important as the outer.
This does not mean that the woman traveller is not politically aware, historically astute or in touch with the customs and language of the place, but it does mean that a woman cannot travel and not be aware of her body and the limitations her sex presents.
This illustrated edition of The Virago Book of Women Travellers captures 300 years of wanderlust.
Some of the women are observers of the world in which they wander and others are more active.
Often they are storytellers, weaving tales about the people they encounter.
Whether it is curiosity about the world or escape from personal tragedy, these women approached their journeys with wit, intelligence, compassion and empathy for the lives of others.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 248 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 14/12/2006
- Category: Gender studies: women
- ISBN: 9781844084418
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Review by Kasthu
The Virago Book of Women Travellers is a collection of excerpts of writing from women traveler, from the seventeenth century through the twentieth. Many, many authors are represented here, from Flora Tristan (who I learned was the grandmother of Paul Gaugin) to Isabella Bird to Beryl Markham, and includes a number of authors who I knew through their fiction but wrote about their travels as well: Vita Sackville-West or Edith Wharton, for example, or Kate O’Brien, who had a lifelong love for Spain that you see in her novels, but experience her love for the country firsthand through her travel writing.These women represent a number of nationalities, traveled pretty much everywhere, and experienced pretty much everything. Especially prior to the twentieth century, women (particularly single women) used travel as a means of escaping the confined lives they led. It’s interesting to note, from the author lifespans that are given above each excerpt, how long many of these women travelers lived; many lived well into their nineties and spent a good chunk of their lives exploring and having adventures. Even Isabelle Eberhardt, who died penniless at the age of 28 in a flash flood, led a remarkable life. Each and every one of them was or is truly unique and remarkable.Some of the stories they tell are priceless, too, and very enjoyable. Each of these women had a distinct point of view, which comes across through each of the excerpts chosen for inclusion in this collection. My favorite was probably the one from Emily Hahn, whose excerpt from Times and Places begins,Though I had always wanted to be an opium addict, I can’t claim that as the reason I went to China. The opium ambition dates back to that obscure period of childhood when I wanted to be a lot of other things, too—the greatest expert on ghosts, the world’s best ice skater, the champion lion tamer, you know the kind of thing. But by the time I went to China I was grown up, and all those dreams were forgotten.If that’s truly the first line of this work, then that’s truly a great, eye-catching first line!I do wish that the editor of this collection had included dates of publication for the excerpts; I think it might have given more a context for the work and writer. A writer I wish had been included was Emily Eden, who wrote extensively about her travels in colonial India in the 19th century. But in all, I think this is very strong collection of writing, great for dipping into here and there as the mood strikes.