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Isabella Lucy Bird

Isabella Lucy BirdIsabella Lucy Bird was the most famous and influential of the Victorian lady travelers. Isabella was also an explorer, missionary, journalist, and author. She was well-educated, but much of her life was marked by several health problems causing her family to regard her as an invalid. She claimed to travel for her health even though she climbed mountains and volcanoes, rode horseback like a man and not sidesaddle over hundreds of miles in the middle of the winter in the Colorado mountains. While travelling she suffered from frostbite, broken ribs and arms, cholera, and burns from dangerous encounters with volcanoes. A near drowning in Malaysia and attacks in China left her with a concussion at the age of sixty-three. Her most famous travel books came out of her letters to her dear sister, Hennie, who lived in England devotedly collecting Isabella's letters. With Hennie's encouragement she edited her letters forming them into the popular travel books that earned her a reputation as one of those female travelers who had escaped the thinking of Victorian society to establish a career. These letters formed the basis of her first book The Englishwoman in America published in 1856. Her travels in North America fir and took her to places like Korea, Japan, Canada, Hawaii, Tibet, Malaysia, and the state of Colorado. Bird was also among the first women invited to join the Royal Geographical Society.

Isabella Lucy BirdIsabella Lucy Bird was born in Boroughbridge in 1831 and grew up in Tattenhall, Cheshire. Her father Edward was a Church of England minister and the family often moved across Britain when he received different parish postings. Prone to being sickly she spent her entire life struggling with various illnesses. Much of these may have been psychosomatic, for when she was doing that which she wanted to do she was rarely ill. In 1854, Bird's father gave her £100 to visit relatives in America and told she was allowed to stay until the money ran out. She wrote of the journey in her first book The Englishwoman in America. The following year, she went to Canada and then toured Scotland. Time spent in Britain always seemed to make her ill and, following her mother's death in 1868, she embarked on a series of excursions to avoid settling permanently with her sister Henrietta on the Isle of Mull. Bird could not endure her sister's domestic lifestyle, preferring instead to support further travels through writing. Many of her works are compiled from letters she wrote home to her sister in Scotland. Her work was both intimate and informative, combining personal insight and scientific knowledge of her destinations to provide the reader with an engaging, educational account of her travels. Among other themes, she wrote to present a vision of places not yet understood by much of Western society.

Isabella Lucy BirdBird finally left Britain in 1872, going first to Australia, which she disliked, and then to Hawaii - then known in Europe as the Sandwich Islands, which her love of prompted her second book published three years later. While in Hawaii she climbed Mauna Loa. She then moved on to Colorado, then the newest state of the United States, where she had heard the air was excellent for those who suffered infirmities. She dressed practically and rode a horse like the men and not sidesaddle, though she threatened to sue the Times for stating that she dressed like one. She covered over 800 miles in the Rocky Mountains during 1873 and her letters to her sister, first printed in the magazine Leisure Hour, comprised her fourth and perhaps most well known book - A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains. Bird's time in the Rockies was enlivened especially by her acquaintance with Jim Nugent, a textbook outlaw with one eye and an affinity for violence and poetry. "A man any woman might love but no sane woman would marry," Bird declared in one of her letters before their publication. Nugent also seemed captivated by the independent-minded Bird, but she ultimately left the Rockies and her dear desperado Nugent being shot dead less than a year later.

Isabella Lucy BirdAt home, Bird again found herself pursued by a man named John Bishop, an Edinburgh doctor in his thirties. As usual she was ill and went traveling again, this time to Asia: Japan, China, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia. Yet when her sister died of typhoid in 1880, Isabella was heartbroken and finally accepted Bishop's marriage proposal. Her health took a severe turn for the worse but recovered by Bishop's own death in 1886. Feeling that her earlier travels had been hopelessly dilettante, Bird studied medicine and resolved to travel as a missionary. Despite being nearly sixty years of age, she set off for India. Arriving in February 1889, Bird visited missions in India, crossed Tibet, and then travelled in Persia, Kurdistan and Turkey. The following year she joined a group of British soldiers travelling between Baghdad and Tehran. She remained with the unit's commanding officer during his survey work in the region, armed with her revolver and a medicine chest. Featured in journals and magazines for decades, Bird was by now something of a household name. In 1892, she became the first woman inducted into the Royal Geographical Society and was elected to membership of the Royal Photographic Society on 12 January 1897. Her final great journey took place in 1897 when she travelled up the Yangtze and Han rivers in China and Korea. Later still going to Morocco where she travelled among the Berbers and had to use a ladder to mount her black stallion, a gift from the Sultan. She died in Edinburgh within a few months of her return in 1904, just shy of her seventy-third birthday planning another trip to China.

Free EBook downloads written by Isabella Lucy Bird (only hyper-linked are downloads)

The Englishwoman in America (1856)

Pen and Pencil Sketches Among The Outer Hebrides (published in The Leisure Hour) (1866)

Notes on Old Edinburgh 1869

The Hawaiian Archipelago (1875)

The Two Atlantics (published in The Leisure Hour) (1876)

Australia Felix: Impressions of Victoria and Melbourne (published in The Leisure Hour) (1877)

Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains (1879)

Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (1880)

Sketches In The Malay Peninsula (published in The Leisure Hour) (1883)

The Golden Chersonese and the way Thither (1883)

A Pilgrimage To Sinai (published in The Leisure Hour) (1886)

Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan (1891)

Among the Tibetans (1894)

Korea and her Neighbours (1898)

The Yangtze Valley and Beyond (1899)

Chinese Pictures (1900)

Notes on Morocco (published in the Monthly Review) (1901)


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Yabanci is a book by a Dutch woman who moved from Holland to Turkey to starta new life in a Turkish village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A great read for those who are considering a move abroad or have lived in a different culture. Available in English as an ebook or in Dutch in both print and popular ebook formats.. take a look

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