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Women’s Travel Writing

  • Barbara Korte
Chapter

Abstract

F.A. Kirkpatrick, in his survey of travel writing in the Cambridge History of English Literature (1916), took it for granted that travelogues are aimed primarily at a male audience: They have provided the substance of a thousand books for boys … And every reader, whether boy or man, finds in his favourite books of travel some image of himself and some hint towards moulding himself (p. 256). Kirkpatrick similarly assumed that travelogues are normally also written by men. Although he makes reference to Mary Kingsley, his reader is left with the overall impression that the genre is a male domain. This kind of suppression of travel writing by women is a thing of the past. On the contrary, a large proportion of recent and current research is devoted to aspects of the genre related to women, and, as the result of a feminist ‘archaeology’ of texts, many travelogues by women have come to light again or have been discovered in archives.1 Today, it may even be claimed that travel writing, as a marginalized genre, has always been particularly attractive to women writers:

Its very hybridity … has prevented it from being taken seriously as literature and has, at the same time, protected it from normative generic rules and thus preserved for it a greater freedom of experimentation. No wonder it has become one of those genres in which the traces of female writing have inscribed themselves particularly early and particularly insistently. (Pfister, 1996, p. 13)

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Copyright information

© Catherine Matthias 2000

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  • Barbara Korte

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