"Travelers through the Far East", by Pilar Tejera



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Synopsis of "Travelers to the Far East"

TO Despite statements like this: "A lady should never travel unaccompanied to a remote place", from the mouth of An English publisher of 19th century travel guides we discover new Victorian ladies who ventured into remote countries every day.

Casiopea Editions, and in particular, its director, Pilar TejeraPassionate about nineteenth-century globetrotters, she has contributed a great deal to their knowledge by the public.

In this new book, the The adventures of some of these adventurers in areas of the Far East such as China, Japan or Southeast Asia.

In words of Pilar Tejera, also author of other books dedicated to the Victorian globetrotters:

While the ability of women to function alone was questioned, many of them managed to free themselves from the limitations of their Victorian upbringing by participating in the male game of exploration and also, in learning about the empire "outside the walls".

They weren't all ugly and eccentric spinsters

For a long time the common stereotype was that they were all ugly and eccentric spinsters rebelling against the gender restrictions of Victorian society. It took some time to recognize their figure, their “beauty”, the various contexts in which they traveled and the variety of modes, itineraries and attitudes they adopted.

The author has collected in her book a very disparate group of female travelers, but who were joined by her curiosity.

Today we know that they recounted their experiences in a different way than men. Most spoke through "sensations", and this greatly enriched the traveling literature of the time, subtracting academicism and pomposity.

An era marked by explorations

All this it occurred in a period of changes produced worldwide. It was the first century in which a generalized interaction between cultures took place.

Part of it was result of wars, but the colonization and the consolidation of the great European powers also contributed. Europeans began to travel for pleasure thanks to the railroad and large ships.

When the powerful British navy eradicated piracy, when the steamship emerged and the Suez Canal was opened, travel abroad was facilitated.

And in this scenario not a few ladies ventured to remote countries such as China or Japan.

"Most belonged to a middle social class imbued with firm family, social and religious principles, and for this reason it is more surprising to discover the ease with which many of them detached themselves from these principles to adapt to the environment in which they lived," he says. Pilar Tejera.

Little loved by publishers and by society

Often pigeonholed under the condescending label of "eccentric traveler," these adventurers stood up to satire or censorship by breaking with commonly accepted norms of femininity.

At first, few publishers accepted and bet on his travel writing. Only the cleverest intuited that with their stories and points of view, they could exert a powerful influence on society, and they incidentally, earn money with their books.

This was the case with John murray, editor of the globetrotter Isabela Bird, first female admitted to the Royal Geographical Society of London.

Despite the achievements and discoveries of women like her, until well into the nineteenth century, scientific institutions did little to review the low esteem that female incursion into a matter considered the heritage of man deserved.

Traveling, seen as a complement in the education of well-to-do young people and a healthy exercise, was not recommended for women.

Missionaries, painters, globetrotters and governesses on their own sailboat

Some of the protagonists of this book that highlights that those women deserved their own space in the century of explorations were:

  • Beth ellis in Burma
  • Annie Brassey sailing on his own sailboat
  • Mary Crawford Fraser traveling as the wife of a diplomat to Beijing and Tokyo
  • Alicia H. Neva, married to a businessman established in China
  • The missionary Annie taylor in the foothills of Tibet
  • The globetrotter Isabela Bird
  • The painter Marianne north, lost in the jungles of Java and Sumatra
  • Ida Pfeiffer, puzzling the cannibals of Borneo with his humor
  • Constance cumming, painting active volcanoes in Japan
  • Marie stopes, collecting fossils in Japan
  • Anna leonowens the king of SiamThe King and I)
  • Harriet McDougall, living in Borneo for twenty years
  • Emily Innes in the swamps of Malaysia
  • Sophia raffles in the jungles of Sumatra
  • Helen caddick touring China and Japan
  • Eliza scidmore, who owes the Japanese cherry trees on the banks of the Potomac River, in Washington DC.

See book file in Casiopea Editions.


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