Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Pat Rogers, Ph.D.


Sport, Bird, Kingsley, Savory, Dixie


This dissertation analyzes the travel writings of Isabella Bird Bishop, Mary Kingsley, Florence Douglas Dixie, and Isabel Savory. While away from England, these women writers participated in cultural exchanges which led to reevaluations of British womanhood. British women travel writers operated not only within the power structures of gender but also within the structures of empire, class, and race. Women travel writers blazed the trail for the New Woman of the end of the century. Before cycling and cigarette smoking were allowed, daring women such as Isabella Bird Bishop and Mary Kingsley crisscrossed the globe in defiance of patriarchal tradition and in search of their own pleasure --- later both hallmarks of the New Woman. Contrary to conservative hopes, women travel writers increased in popularity, inspired young women to be daring and challenged the Victorian status quo by writing of the dangerous pleasures they experienced while abroad. As inspiration for the New Women, women travel writers reveled in danger and athletics, and in time, reshaped England's image of womanhood. Because of the positive accounts of athleticism provided by women travelers, female health became a prominent topic in society. By the early twentieth century, women had increased access and acceptability to physical pursuits.