Reviews

Women of the World: Women Travelers and Explorers

Patty Osborne

Another book in which women get to climb mountains is Women of the World: Women Travelers and Explorers by Rebecca Stefoff (Oxford University Press). I found this big green book while browsing in the Young Adult section of the library (my son needed books on Japan).

A nicely laid-out volume, complete with maps, drawings and photographs, it describes the travels of nine women. Ida Pfeiffer, born in 1797, had to wait until she was forty-five and her sons were grown before she could set out on her own for places as far apart as Singapore, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco. My favourite chapter tells the story of Florence Baker who was born in 1841 in Transylvania. When Florence was seventeen, Samuel Baker bought her at a slave auction in Bulgaria, and the two became partners, both in travel and in life. Together they explored the Nile and discovered one of its sources, Lake Albert.

Like the hero of An Easy Day for a Lady, Fanny Bullock Workman, who was born in 1859, was an ardent mountain climber and feminist. There's a great photo of her standing on a peak 20,000 feet above sea level. She's wearing a skirt, thick leggings, hiking boots, and a hat with a veil, and she's holding up a sign that says "Votes for Women." Don't be put off by the Young Adult label. This handsome book is great for old adults too.

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