The Penguin Book of Women’s New Travel
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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