Whether it’s exploring new territories, sailing around the world, cycling across continents, or immersing themselves in a different culture, we’ve been seriously inspired by the women writers whose books have graced our shelves.
And it’s not just the writers. Since opening in 1853 we have heard some amazing stories of the adventures our female customers have been on. We even have a letter from Florence Nightingale thanking Stanfords for a mounted map.
To celebrate these astounding women and hopefully inspire more readers to be more adventurous we have highlighted three pioneering travel writers that we love:
Edith Wharton (1862-1937)
“Life is always either a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope.”- Edith Wharton
Born in New York to the wealthy Newbold Jones family. The phrase ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ is said to refer to her family. From a young age she travelled and began writing poetry and fiction very early in her life. When she got married, she and her husband would spend many months of the year travelling and following her divorce, she settled in France.
During the war she opened workrooms for unemployed women and helped set up hostels for refugees.
Despite writing almost her whole life, her first book wasn’t published until she was in her forties. In 1921 she was the first woman to win the Pulitzer prize for literature with her book The Age of Innocence.
A great example of travel writing is In Morocco. Edith Wharton journeyed to Morocco for a month in the final days of the First World War, at a time when there was no guidebook to the country.
Travelling from Rabat and Fez to Moulay Idriss and Marrakech, she recorded her encounters with Morocco’s people, traditions and ceremonies, capturing a country at a moment of transition from an almost unknown, roadless empire to a popular tourist destination. Her descriptions of the places she visited – mosques, palaces, ruins, markets and harems – are typically observant and brim with colour and spirit, whilst her sketches of the country’s history and art are rigorous but accessible.
Nellie Bly (1864-1922)
“I’ve always had the feeling that nothing is impossible if one applies a certain amount of energy in the right direction. If you want to do it, you can do it.” – Nellie Bly
Born in Pennsylvania, Nellie Bly’s work as a journalist saw her write extensively about the plight of women and she even went undercover at an asylum to expose the ill treatment of women there. Her book Ten Days in a Mad-House was a sensation and she soon became a well-known writer.
In 1889 she circumnavigated the world breaking a record by completing the 24,899-mile journey in 72 days. With just a small bag, for the most part, she travelled alone.
This is Nellie’s travelogue from her record-breaking race around the world in emulation of Phileas Fogg. This volume, the only printed and edited collection of Bly’s writings, includes her best-known works as well as many lesser-known pieces that capture the breadth of her career from her fierce opinion pieces to her remarkable World War I reporting.
Beryl Markham (1902-1986)
“A life has to move or it stagnates.” – Beryl Markham
Born in Rutwell, UK, Beryl Marham was the first woman to fly solo from east to west across the Atlantic and the first person to fly from England to North America non-stop from east to west. She wrote about her 1936 record a few years later in West with the Night and although it received rave reviews, it soon fell from popularity.
She moved to Kenya and went on to become a very successful horse trainer. Years later a letter from Hemmingway praising her book was uncovered and her book was re-released and brought back into the spotlight three years before her death.
West with the Night tells the spellbinding story of Beryl Markham and her life in the Kenya of the 1920s and 30s. Markham was taken to Kenya at the age of four. As an adult she was befriended by Denys Finch-Hatton, the big-game hunter of Out of Africa fame, who took her flying in his airplane. Thrilled by the experience, Markham went on to become the first woman in Kenya to receive a commercial pilot’s license. In 1936 she decided to fly solo across the Atlantic — without stopping. When Charles Lindbergh did the same, he had the wind behind him. Markham, by contrast, had a strong headwind against her and a plane that only flew up to 163 mph. On 4 September, she took off …Several days later, she crash-landed in Nova Scotia and became an instant celebrity.
Happy International Women’s Day.
Until the 10th April 2017 we have a buy one get one half price offer on selected travel writing and fiction by women authors (including the three books mentioned above): stanfords.co.uk/be-more-adventuress