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Eliza Scidmore (1856-1928)

 Eliza Rumaha Scidmore was born October 14, 1856 in Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America and died November 3, 1928 in Geneva, Switzerland.  After attending college in Ohio in 1873-74 she moved to Washington D.C. where she wrote articles about the political society there, in newspapers in New York City and St. Louis, Missouri.  Later on she travelled to Alaska and published a collection of magazine articles on that territory.   After her journey to Alaska, she started travelling and spending long periods in Asia, particularly in Japan and also in Java ,China  and India.

“Winter India” was first published in 1903, during the British colonial empire.  Scidmore, of course, mentions the characteristics of things under the British colonial power, but she trascends that period of India’s history by mentioning places and ceremonies and gods and goddesses which are part of the India of all times.  Reading her book you feel transported to Delhi as it used to be,  learn about Madras and the Seven Pagodas,  visit Calcutta in Christmas week and feel in touch with the spirit of Buddhism reading about her description of the sacred bo-tree.  You may learn more about Shiva and Benares, travel in your imagination through the Khyber Pass with the old silk route caravans and  discovered Akbar, the greatest mogul of them all.


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Beatrice Grimshaw 1871-1953



            Beatrice Grimshaw was born a few miles outside Belfast, Ireland in a big country house.  She was an adventurer at heart since childhood and an independent soul who longed to travel to far away places.


            When Beatrice was 21 years old, she went away to Dublin to work as a journalist.  She was a keen cyclist and broke the women’s world 24 hour record by five hours.  As a journalist in Dublin from 1891 she became sub-editor of “Irish Cyclist” and from 1895 edited the “Social Review” for four years.  Later on she moved to London, where she continued working as a journalist.  However, her dreams of travel persisted and although in those times travel was not only uncommon for a single woman but also expensive, she managed to get a commission to write newspaper publicity for the shipping companies in return for travel around the world.  She provided for her other expenses by commissions for articles from various newspapers.


            Until 1903 Beatrice had been a freelance journalist, a tour organiser and an emigration promoter but her dream was to go to the South Pacific islands.  She sailed in early 1904 with the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand.  Embarking from San Francisco, she sailed first to Tahiti, followed by a four month voyage through the South Pacific and an additional two months on the island of Niue.  During this trip, she visited Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Rarotonga and some of the Cook islands.  She returned to London with enough material to publish “In the Strange South Seas” and “From Fiji to the Cannibal Islands” in 1907.


            In these books, Grimshaw not only recounts her adventures in the South Seas, but she also describes the customs and lifestyles of the native populations as well as giving an exhaustive picture of the region’s fauna and wildlife.  The books also contain accounts of cannibalism, head-hunting, poisoning and tribal magic.  She managed to skilfully mix tales of exotic jungle adventure with romantic descriptions of the South Sea allure.


            Now established as a professional travel writer, Beatrice left in November 1907 for Papua New Guinea where she lived for many years and where she owned two plantations as well as being the manager of one.  During those years she also wrote 37 books, mainly novels which were inspired by the many interesting people she met.


            Eventually, Beatrice settled in Bathhurst, Australia where she died in 1953 at the age of eighty two with no descendants.  In her book “Isles of Adventure” she provided an accurate epitaph for herself: “I have written as a traveller, a wanderer, to whom new and strange things are the chief happiness of my life”.


            Beatrice Grimshaw’s books had a large readership but were unjustly forgotten in later years.  Trotamundas Press is bringing back into print some of the travel books that so well describe the allure of the South Pacific islands that she dreamt of when she was a young woman in Ireland and that she loved so much.



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Annie, Lady Brassey was a very popular Victorian author.  She travelled with her husband, Thomas and her children aboard their yacht, the Sunbeam which was well known the world over.  During their eleven month sailing trip around the world in 1876-7, forty-three persons sailed on the Sunbeam, headed by Mr and Mrs Brassey and their four children.  They travelled to South America, Japan, China, Singapore and Ceylon and the trip was inmortalized in Anna’s book “A Voyage in the Sunbeam”.  The book ran through many English editions and was translated into many other languages.  In later years she also wrote other books: “Sunshine and Storm in the East”(1880), “In the Trades, the Tropics and the Roaring Forties” (1885), “The Last Voyage to India and Australia in the Sunbeam” (1889).  Her readership rivalled that of  Isabella Bird but her travelling style was of a different nature.


During her travels, lady Brassey collected many objects of the different cultures they visited.  Her large collection of ethnographic and natural history objects were originally shown in a museum at her London house but they were moved eventually to Hastings Museum in 1919.


Annie Brassey spent much of the last ten years of her life at sea.  She died suddenly of malaria on the way home from India and Australia in 1887 and was buried at sea at the age of 48.  Her last book “The Last Voyage to India and Australia in the Sunbeam” was published posthumously in 1889.



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Violet Cressy-Marcks



Violet Cressy-Marcks was fearless when faced with physical threats.  She had already been trekking from Cape to Cairo and had sleighed across the icy fields to Murmansk before going to the rivers and swamps of South America in 1929.  In the Amazon she was woken by a snake which bit her below the knee.  She grabbed the snake below the head, crawled out from under her mosquito net and went to find a rock to smash the snake’s head.  Then proceeded to use a scalpel to cut across the bite, pushing a tablet of permanganate of potash.


She travelled around the world many times using all means of transport, from sleigh to  canoe, horses, motor car and her own feet.  Her extensive interests included archaeology, zoology, ethnology and geography.  “Up the Amazon and over the Andes” was the first of her books describing her trips.  She was a reporter in Chungking (China) for the Daily Express from 1943 to 1945 and  interviewed Mao Tse-tung in his Red Army base camp.  After the war her journeys became less strenous.  She became a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and of the Zoological Society although she was primarily an archaeologist.  Violet Cressy-Marcks faced all kinds of difficulties with courage.  She was a dedicated traveller and proved that women could achieve high goals at the same level or in some cases higher than men.



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Isabel Savory


Isabel Savory’s first book, published in 1900, was a best seller sensation about a game hunting expedition she made with friends from Bombay up to Peshawar, to the Khyber Pass into Kashmir and then down to the Nigiri Hills.  She spent many months in the Himalayas hunting and shooting.   Her book “A sportswoman in India” became a bestseller and made her famous.  In less than a year she was trekking in Morocco and then published the book about her journeys there in 1903.


Isabel Savory travelled to Morocco in 1901 with a friend, Rose Bainbridge, who took the pictures for her book “In the tail of the Peacock”.  She described the different places she visited enabling  us to learn about the culture, the colours, the people, the souks, the beautiful skies and all the things that made Morocco a favorite exotic destination for travellers around the world. Her vivid descriptions of the country can still bring us the flavours of Morocco as it used to be.  She gave the title of her book after a moorish proverb : “The Earth is a peacock: Morocco is the tail of it”




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