Intrepid Explorer Isabella Bird

The intrepid explorer Isabella Bird, another Victorian woman of style

With all we think we understand about life for middle class Victorian women, there is, occasionally, a women who undertakes challenges that take your breath away.

Isabella Bird, born in 1832, yet another daughter of a clergyman who goes onto great things, was an incredibly brave and insightful explorer.

    • Born in Yorkshire in 1832 into a strongly religious family
    • She suffered from a tumour on her spine, which was removed by surgery. Her life was blighted by terrible back and head pain, for which her cure was travel
    • Her father must have been quite a personality because on seeing that when she travelled her pain became less intrusive upon her life, gave her £100 to travel until it was all gone
    • At the age of 22yrs, Isabella began her travels firstly to Canada and America
    • She wrote a book about her experiences, ‘An English Woman in America’ and used the proceeds from it’s sales to help the poor emigrate to Canada and America
    • Suffering further terrible pain she opted for travel as a cure and left for Australia and New Zealand
    • She travelled to the Solomon Islands, where, already an accomplished horsewoman, she was taught to sit astride a horse and wore specially made bloomers to achieve this
    • She climbed  in the Rocky Mountains
    • She travelled in Japan, Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula, indeed she was one of the first Europeans to explore it
  • Isabella Bird

    Isabella Bird

Isabella wrote extensively of her explorations and her books reveal a world of Victorian travel and indeed life in Victorian times. 

Listen to an audio story about the life of Isabella Bird.

Follow the links to download Isabella’s books from Project Gutenburg, you won’t be disappointed, they are a great read

English Woman in America

Unbeaten Tracks in Japan

Lady’s Life in The Rockies

Hawaiian Archipelago

When so much is talked about great men and exploration, isn’t it about time we celebrated some anniversaries relating to the extraordinary accomplishments of women explorers?


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