Isabella Bird



One of the most celebrated and influential female travel writers of the Victorian era, Isabella Lucy Bird Bishop was also an explorer, missionary, journalist, and author. Although Bishop was well-educated, much of her life was marked by numerous health complications, which led her family to deem her an invalid. When doctors recommended a change of air, Bishop traveled to the United States for a year, where she composed daily journal entries and letters to her sister, Henrietta. These writings formed the basis of her first book, The Englishwoman in America (1856). It was this trip that ignited Bishop’s enthusiasm for travel writing and would prompt her to circle the globe three times during her life as she explored Korea, Japan, Canada, Hawaii, Tibet, Malaysia, and Colorado. Her work was both intimate and informative, combining personal insight and scientific knowledge of her destinations to provide the reader with an engaging, educational account of her travels. Among other themes, Bishop wrote to challenge Western stereotypes of Eastern cultures, to critique the treatment of women in lower classes, and to present a vision of places not yet understood by much of Western society. She died in 1904 at the age of 73 with her trunk packed, ready to embark on another journey. (Laura Gage)

Essays by Isabella Bird

Lake Tahoe

The beauty is entrancing. The sinking sun is out of sight behind the western Sierras, and all the pine-hung promontories on this side of the water are rich indigo.
Patrick Madden's New Book
Quotidiana by Patrick Madden

Quotidiana site founder Patrick Madden has just published a book of his own personal essays, including pieces formerly published in the Best American Spiritual Writing and Best Creative Nonfiction anthologies. If you enjoy the classical essays on this site, you'll enjoy these contemporary ruminations as well. Soon there'll be a web page here with further information, but for now, you can find out more (and perhaps purchase a copy) at

"Patrick Madden is an essayist of verve, passion, wit, and dependable moral compass. Quotidiana drew me in powerfully, from page to page and from pleasure to pleasure." —Ian Frazier

2011 Symposium on the Essay
Welcome Table Press Symposium on the Essay

Friend of Quotidiana Kim Dana Kupperman's Welcome Table Press is hosting a one-day symposium at Fordham University on Saturday, October 15th, 2011. In Praise of the Essay: Practice & Form will feature talks and discussions by Phillip Lopate, Robin Hemley, Barbara Hurd, and more.


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