A Timeline of Women Adventurers
Egeria – early 380s. Pilgrim to the Holy Land, wrote a detailed account of her journey.
Marie of the Incarnation – 1599 – 1672. Ursuline nun who traveled to the New World to convert the inhabitants
Maria Sibylla Merian – 1647-1717. German/ botanist – traveled to Dutch Surinam to study metamorphosis
Jeanne Baret – 1740-1807. French naturalist, First woman to circumnavigate the world (disguised as a man)
Eliza Fay – 1755-1816 English letter writer and traveler to India
Louisa Catherine Adams – 1775 – 1852. English wife of U.S. President John Quincy Adams. Traveled in winter through Europe in 1815, at the end of the Napoleonic wars.
Hester Stanhope – 1776-1839. British traveler, archeologist in the Holy Land
Emily Eden – 1797-1869 – English poet and novelist. Traveled to India and wrote accounts of travel in Up the Country; “Thoroughly disliked traveling.”
Ida Laura Pfeiffer – 1797-1856. Austrian who traveled to Iceland, Europe, Egypt, S America, and around the world
Susanna Moodie – 1803-1885. English-born Canadian author. Wrote about her experiences as a settler in Canada “Roughing It in the Bush: Or, Life in Canada.
Mary Seacole – 1803-1881 – British-Jamaican business woman, served as a nurse during the Crimean War, traveled extensively.
Narcissa Whitman – 1808 – 1847. American missionary. One of the first women to travel across the Rocky Mountains.
Marianne North – 1830-1890. English biologist, botanical artist, traveled alone around the world
Martha Maxwell – 1831 – 1881. American naturalist and taxidermist – traveled in the Rockies.
Alexandrine Tinne 1835-1869. Dutch explorer in Africa, crossed the Sahara
Lady Anne Blunt – English aristocrat who traveled through Arabia and the Middle East in Bedouin attire.
Isabella Bird – 1841-1904. English explorer, writer, naturalist. traveled by herself through Asia and North America
May French Sheldon – 1847-1936. American publisher, traveled alone in Africa
Flora Annie Steel 1847-1929 – traveled in the Punjab
Annie Smith Peck – 1850-1935. American adventurer, mountain climber in the Alps and the Andes.
Annie Royle Taylor -1855-1922. English explorer missionary to China, first western woman to visit Tibet, attempted to reach Lhasa
Kate Marsden – 1859-1931. British missionary, explorer, writer – traveled to Siberia to find leprosy cure
Fanny Bullock Workman – 1859-1925. American cartographer, travel writer, explorer / climbed with husband in the Himalayas / in a skirt!
Helga Etsby – 1860-1942. American who walked across the U.S. in 1896 to win a prize. She won!
Mary Kingsley – 1862-1908. English ethnographer and explorer in West Africa
Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey -1863-1948. American ornithologist, did field work in the American West
Mary Edith Durham – 1863 – 1944. British traveler, artist, writer, famous for anthropological accounts of life in Albania.
Ella Sykes – 1863-1939 – English woman traveler, rode side-saddle through Persia in 1895 and rode yaks through central Asia
Gertrude Bell – 1868-1926. English explorer, mapped much of the Middle East, hung out with T.E. Lawrence, called “Queen of the Desert”
Alexandra David-Neel – 1868-1969. French writer and Buddhist scholar, traveled to India, China, Tibet.
Annie Londonderry – 1870-1947. American, 1st woman to bicycle around the world (not quite sure how she managed that)
Inez Mexia – 1870-1938. Mexican botanist and adventurer – began her career at age 55!
Harriett Chalmers Adams – 1875-1937. American writer, photographer. Explored South America, Haiti, Gobi Desert
Isabelle Eberhard 1877-1904. Swiss explorer, traveled to Algeria, converted to Islam, dressed as a man
Marguerite Harrison – 1879-1967. American reporter, spy, filmmaker – one of the founders of Society of Women Geographers
Louise Arner Boyd – 1887-1972. American who explored Greenland and the Antarctic.
Rosita Forbes – 1890-1967. English travel writer and explorer. She explored Egypt and Libya at a time when foreigners were forbidden.
Freya Stark – 1893-1993. British-Italian, traveled within and wrote about the Middle East
Vera Brittain – 1893 – 1970. British war nurse, pacifist, writer. Wrote about her experiences in World War I.
Jane Elliott Wulsin -1894–1963. American, explored China, Tibet, Outer Mongolia
Vivienne de Watteville – 1900-1957. British travel writer and big game hunter, traveled to the Congo, Uganda.
Beryl Markham – 1902-1986. British/Kenyan aviator
Anne Spoerry. 1918-1999. French resistance during World War II, in Ravensbruk concentration camp. Lived and worked as a doctor in Kenya.
Zetton Buchanan – 1921 – imprisoned in an Iraqi harem after her husband was killed in a raid.
Jennie Darlington – 1924-2017. Canadian explorer. Spent her honeymoon in Antarctica, where she was one of the first women to overwinter, and the first person to become pregnant in Antarctica.
Dervla Murphy – 1931-present. Irish cyclist, travel writer. Traveled through the Himalayas …on a bicycle!
Sylvia Earle – 1935-present. American marine biologist, explorer, author. Dedicated to protecting the ocean and its wildlife.
Helen Thayer – 1937-present. New Zealand explorer, first woman explorer to travel to the magnetic North Pole (by sled) (at 50!)
Aung San Suu Kyi – 1945 to present. Burman civil rights protestor, kept under house arrest for 20 years. Won Nobel Peace Prize.
Arlene Blum – 1945 to present. American mountaineer and scientist, led an all-woman team to the first ascent of Annapurna in Himalayas.
Margaret Lowman – 1953 to present. American biologist called “Canopy Meg” for her work in the treetops. Read my Goodreads review of her book Life in the Treetops.