Isabella L. Bird, 1831–1904, English traveler and writer, first woman member of the Royal Geographical Society. She traveled extensively and wrote a number of books, including The English Woman in America (1856), The Hawaiian Archipelago (1875), A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains (1879), Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (1880), Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan (1891), and Korea and Her Neighbors (1898). She founded several hospitals in China and Korea.
In 1854, at the age of twenty-two, Bird left England and began traveling as a cure for her ill health. Over the years she explored Asia, the Sandwich Islands, Hawaii, and both the Eastern and Western United States.
A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains
is a rare, gem of a book which contains letters written to her sister during her six-month journey through the Colorado Rockies in 1873. Traveling alone, usually on horseback, often with no clear idea of where she will spend the night in what is mostly uninhabited wilderness, she covers over a thousand miles, most of it during the winter months.
A well-educated woman who had known a comfortable life, she thinks nothing of herding cattle at a hard gallop, falling through ice, getting lost in snowstorms, and living in a cabin where the temperatures are well below zero and her ink freezes even as she writes. She befriends desperados and climbs 14,000 foot mountains, ready for any adventure that allows her to see the unparalleled beauty of nature. Her rare complaints have more to do with having to ride side-saddle while in town than with the conditions she faces. An awe-inspiring woman, she is also a talented writer who brings to life Colorado of more than one hundred years ago, when today's big cities were only a small collection of frame houses, and beautiful areas were still largely untouched.
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