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.
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.
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Quotidiana is an online anthology of "classical" essays, from antiquity to the early twentieth century. All essays and images are in the public domain. Commentaries are copyrighted, but may be used with proper attribution. Special thanks to the BYU College of Humanities and English Department for funding, and to Joey Franklin and Lara Burton, for tireless research assisting.