Isabella Bird

Picture of Isabella Bird

Who: Isabella Bird, an explorer, traveler, and the first female fellow admitted to the Royal Geographical Society

Why She Dazzles: If you think your passport is full, then check out Isabella’s. Born in England, she traveled abroad to Canada, Hawaii, China, Japan, India, and the Middle East, to name a few places in her passport. For the record, she often traveled alone—and this was during the 19th century.

Why You Need to Know Her Today: She went outside of her comfort zone to explore new cultures and destinations. Not only did she travel alone to remote areas of the world, but she also documented her adventures—including one that involved a one-eyed outlaw in the Rocky Mountains.

What She Would Say Today—Because She Said It Then: “I have just dropped into the very place I have been seeking, but in everything it exceeds all my dreams.”

Picture of a jeweled crimson rose butterfly brooch by jewelry designer Cindy Chao
“I have found a dream of beauty at which one might look all one’s life and sigh.”—Isabella

What She Would Wear to the Royal Geographical Society Tonight: A butterfly brooch because she was a free spirit. Speaking of bejeweled butterflies … one of the most iconic butterfly pieces was designed by Cindy Chao, a Taiwanese jewelry artist influenced by architecture and sculptures. Her gemstone work of art, “The Royal Butterfly,” was inducted into the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and became the first Taiwanese-designed piece added into the Gem Hall.

Picture of a card of colorful vintage stamps by TangleCrafts on Etsy
“The Englishwoman in America,” was Isabella’s first book and comprised letters to her sister.

What She Would Send to Her Friend: She published more than 10 works of travel literature and wrote many letters to her family during her journeys, several of which appeared in her books. Expect multiple letters with fascinating updates of her global escapades. You’ll experience major FOMO.

Picture of Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai, China
The Yuyuan Garden was built 400 years ago during the Ming Dynasty and offers tranquil views inside a busy city.

Where She Would Instagram: The Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai, a city positioned as a gateway to China on the Yangtze River Delta. The garden is an oasis in the middle of a bustling city where visitors can gaze at glittering pools, dazzling pagodas, elaborate carvings and sculptures, and impressive architecture. Isabella captured stunning pictures of daily life in Asia, many of which appeared in her book A Photographic Journal of Travels Through China 1894-1896, from her epic journey along the Yangtze River.

Tweet This: #DYK Isabella Bird’s descriptive accounts of her travels captured a humanitarian perspective unlike other explorers of her time #anewlady

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