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Co-edited by Dea Birkett
Amazonian: The Penguin Book of Women’s New Travel Writing
extract

Amazonian: The Penguin Book of Women’s New Travel Writing

extract

Amazonian: The Penguin Book of Women’s New Travel Writing

There’s a monstrous tribe that lives in our imaginations. They wear corsets and long tweed skirts, are armed with parasols and consider hairpins de rigueur even up the Amazon. They rampage through jungles swatting flies and dispensing prejudices, their manifold items of luggage borne behind them by a snaking file of natives . . . This is the tribe of women travellers: bold, benign and clearly barking . . .

We have found that even when people are confronted by a real, live women travel writer, they still get us wrong. In the time allowed for questions after a lecture we are regularly asked, ‘Was that before you sailed around the world or after?’ even though neither of us has ever done any such thing. The inference here is that to qualify as travel writers women must achieve astonishing and record-breaking feats. Either that, or we’re trying to get out hands down some man’s trousers. One of us was once asked by the president of a distinguished geographical institution, ‘What made you go to Chile? Was it some guy?’

From the Introduction to Amazonian: The Penguin Book of Women’s New Travel Writing by Dea Birkett and Sara Wheeler.


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