Travel and literature are two forms of escapism that go hand in hand. Through the pages of a book, we can venture into the world's furthest reaches, experiencing diverse cultures and foreign landscapes, all from the comfort of our armchairs. As we embark on our literary journeys, we often come across captivating and inspiring female characters who traverse the globe with a spirit of adventure and independence. That being said, here are the top seven women travellers in fiction, delving into their tales of wanderlust, courage, and self-discovery.
Aunt Augusta in “Travels With My Aunt” by Graham Greene
In many adventure stories, the sidekick or aunt plays an important role. In this remarkable book, Graham Greene makes the aunt the main character. He has her take Henry Pulling on exciting Orient Express trips to Paris, Istanbul, and South America. Along the way, she shows him how much fun aunts can be.
Alice in “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
Alice, a very adventurous woman, leaves a picnic and accidentally falls into a hole in the ground. She ends up in a magical place where strange things keep happening. She meets a rabbit who is always running late, a cat that disappears except for its grin, a crazy person named the Mad Hatter who throws tea parties, and many other weird creatures and stories.
Miss Lucy Honeychurch in “A Room With a View” by EM Forster
Lucy goes to Italy with her cousin and supervisor, Miss Bartlett, and a guidebook called Baedeker. When they get to the Pensione Bertolini, they switch rooms with a father and son who both have better views. Miss Bartlett is suspicious of the father and thinks he might be a socialist. Lucy's trip to Italy helps her see love in a new way, even if it means falling in love with a socialist.
“Clarissa Dalloway” in Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
This is a story of an internal odyssey. Narrated through a stream-of-consciousness style, the novel chronicles Mrs Dalloway's arrangements for an evening celebration, which takes place within a single day in June. Although the narrative primarily comprises flashbacks, the novel's conclusion shows that this day has been a profound journey through Clarissa's psyche.
The Wife of Bath in “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Wife of Bath is a talkative and gap-toothed lady who travels with Chaucer's group of pilgrims to Canterbury. She is very open about her five marriages and enjoys sharing details about her sex life with her husbands. She even tells stories about how she used her sexual activities to control them!
Isabel Archer in “The Portrait of a Lady” by Henry James
Isabel Archer is a young woman from America who doesn't want to lose her freedom by getting married. So, she goes to Europe with her aunt to explore the world. She receives a large inheritance during her trip to help her stay independent. However, this causes some people to try to take advantage of her newfound wealth.
“The Lady of Shalott” by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Tennyson's poem draws inspiration from Arthurian mythology and tells the tragic tale of the Lady of Shalott, cursed to weave a spellbound tapestry while never directly looking into the world. But, when she catches sight of Lancelot's reflection in her mirror, she succumbs to temptation and gazes out of her window, bringing the curse upon herself. Consequently, she meets her end on a boat journey to Camelot.
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