Wandering women | Audrey

Wandering women

Lockdown has most of our travel plans on pause for now, but that makes this the perfect time to daydream. Audrey has been fanning wanderlust’s flame, exploring remote times and places, and reflecting on the nature of adventure, through these works by extraordinary women travel writers.

All the Roads Are Open: The Afghan Journey
Annemarie Schwarzenbach, translated by Isabel Fargo Cole

In 1939, as the threat of war hung heavy on the air, Annemarie and fellow writer Ella Maillart fled Europe and headed towards the Middle East, becoming the first European women to travel Afghanistan’s Northern Road. In this narrative—one part adventure, one part reflection—Annemarie captures the staggering beauty of the landscapes, the culture, and the feeling of being a traveller in a world on the brink of unprecedented conflict. (Published by Seagull Books, 2011)

Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle
Dervla Murphy

From the rolling green hills of Ireland to the noisy streets of India, Dervla Murphey takes the reader with her on a solo bicycle expedition across nine countries. An undeniably charismatic character with a pistol in her pack, she makes the most unlikely of friends along the way— including the Pakistani president— and paints a vibrant picture of the human spirit across different cultures. Even through her trials, suffering sunstroke and painful injuries, she never loses her enthusiastic approach to adventure, nor her admiration for the hospitality she finds in every country she pedals through. (Overlook Books, 1986)

Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods
Christine Byl

After graduating college without a single penny to her name, Christine Byl decided to traverse the Glacier National Park Trail. In the snow-capped mountains of Montana, she served as a ‘trail dog’, undertaking her backbreaking duties with diligence and strength. In the process, she encountered a colourful cast of characters and learned the skills required to survive in a rugged mountain landscape. This thoughtful work ruminates on the place of women in ‘white collar’ and ‘blue collar’ labour work, and shows how nature, in all its wonder, can be the most persistent and loving teacher of all. (Published by Beacon Press, 2013)

Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road
Kate Harris

Between her studies at Oxford and MIT, Kate Harris set out to ride— yes, another cyclist!—the Silk Road with her childhood friend. This book follows the pair through the many physical and mental challenges they encountered, and along the way faces deep philosophical questions about modern life and the will to adventure. This hopeful and uplifting adventure of a book leaves the reader with the profound sense that the human soul is geared for exploration: not in the name of control or conquest, but in the pursuit of connections with the world and its people. (Published by Dey Street Books, 2018)

Passenger to Teheran
Vita Sackville-West

Deliberately taking the scenic route on a trip to visit her diplomat husband in Teheran, Englishwoman Vita SackvilleWest sailed through Egypt, India and Iraq. Her return route was perilous, seeing her evade bandits in Teheran and brave a passage through communist Russia during revolution. Despite all the dangers she faced, she never lost her sense of humour, and her sense of adventure never faltered. We loved her timeless reminiscences on how adventure can rejuvenate the soul. (Published by Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2007)

Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica
Zora Neale Hurston

This haunting travelogue delves into the dark and mysterious world of Voodoo in Haiti and Jamaica. In it, the legendary and pathbreaking writer Zora Neale Hurston revisits her past—namely, her participation in voodoo practices in the 1930s—and offers an eyewitness account of the customs, rituals, and superstitions that were once very prevalent in these nations. Both fascinating and dark, this narrative offers insight into a mysterious world, bringing to light many topics that are considered taboo to this day. (Published by Amistad, 2009)

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Cheryl Strayed

After it felt like her whole life had fallen apart, following losses through death and divorce, Cheryl Strayed impulsively embarked on a gruelling and inspiring journey to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. In spite of having little experience, she made her way from the deserts of California to the lush forests of Washington State, trekking with a sense of determination to rediscover herself. Full of both suspense and joy, and sprinkled with good humour, this book highlights the resilience of a young woman who believed she could, so she did. (Published by Knopf, 2012)

Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback
Robyn Davidson

Courageous and gritty, this closer-to-home memoir tracks Robyn Davidson’s trek across the harsh terrain of the Australian outback, with only her dog and four camels as her companions. Braving the merciless sun and poisonous animals, Robyn gradually develops a passion for the land, a strong connection to the Aboriginal peoples she meets along the way, and a sense of reflection she felt was honed by the stark simplicity of solitude in the desert. This odyssey will take you through a more local landscape that will leave you feeling a deeper connection to this country we call home. (Published by Pantheon Books, 1980)

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