Born in 1831 in England, Isabella Bird (1831-1904) was a celebrated female traveller-photographer and writer known for her momentous journeys across various continents. Bird travelled more widely in her middle age after the death of her mother, she traversed the wide expanse of the Americas, Australia and New Zealand and through the wild lands of Asia such as China, Korea, Malaya and the Middle East. In total, she travelled for more than nine years, though there were long periods when she stayed home.
Her global travels and subsequent books made her famous, and led to her becoming one of the first female Fellows of the Royal Geographical Society in 1891. All of her journeys were recounted in her books, her engaging text capturing the essence of travel and her many adventures. Isabella Bird was also a keen photographer, and her later books were beautifully illustrated with her own photographs.
She died peacefully at home in Edinburgh in 1904, just short of her 73rd birthday. Her bags had been packed for yet another journey to China. Today, her archive is held at the National Library of Scotland of the John Murray Archive, which includes extensive correspondence between Bird and her publisher, as well as her photographic archive.