A Sportswoman in India

Savory, Isabel. A Sportswoman in India. London: Hutchinson & co., J.B. Lippincott company, 1900.


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By Desert Ways to Baghdad and Damascus

Jebb, Louisa. By Desert Ways to Baghdad and Damascus. London: T. F. Unwin, 1909.

Every age witnesses the birth of some great soul. Sometimes events bring these people to the attention of the world. More often than not, they alter the lives around them, then pass on quietly. Such a soul belonged to the author of this cherished book. There was nothing in Louisa Jebb’s comfortable Victorian youth to indicate she would one day take to the saddle and pen one of the most eloquent equestrian travel books ever written. Yet in the early years of the 20th century, Jebb set out with a female companion to cross the Turkish Empire on horseback. To say they were unprepared to become Long Riders would be an understatement. Neither of them could speak the local language. Furthermore, both wore cumbersome full-length skirts and rode side-saddles. They were, in a word, enthusiastic amateurs who believed courage and common sense would see them through. Remarkably, it did. Having hired a picturesque guide and reliable horses, they set out to explore the secret corners of the Sultan’s empire. What they discovered were guarded harems and regal Pashas, fabled rivers and a desert world of intense beauty. If Jebb rode into Turkey expecting to find adventure, she found it. Yet she discovered something else – nomadic freedom. It is her personal observations about this subject that set “By Desert Ways to Baghdad and Damascus” apart from other equestrian travel books. “In the untravelled parts of the East you reign supreme, there is no need to go about securely chained to a gold watch. Ignore Time, and he is your servant,” she observed wisely. Sadly, revolution and death soon swept across this fabled land, wiping away the kingdom of the Turkish Caliphs and laying the foundations for the grief which enshrouds this unhappy part of the world today. Upon her return to “civilization” the author lamented about what she had found, then lost. “Last night we were dirty, isolated and free, tonight we are clean, sociable and trammelled. Last night the setting sun’s final message was burnt into us. Tonight the sunset passed unheeded as we sit imprisoned and oppressed by the confining walls of Damascus Palace Hotel. We are no longer princesses whose hands are kissed. We are now judged by the cost of our raiment.” Few books contain as many great abiding truths as this one does.


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A Pilgrimage to Nejd, the Cradle of the Arab Race

Blunt, Anne. A Pilgrimage to Nejd, the Cradle of the Arab Race. London: J. Murray, 1881.

This book documents the journey of Lady Anne Blunt (d. 1917) to Arabia in 1875.

Table of Contents

  • The Charm of Asia
  • Brotherly offices
  • Beating about
  • We start in earnest
  • Kaf and Itheri
  • The Jof oasis
  • The Ibn Aruks of Jof
  • Mohammed in love
  • Jobba
  • Hail
  • Political and Historical
  • Nejd horses
  • Mohammed loses his head
  • We go in search of adventures
  • Muttlak Ibn Aruk and the Ketherin
  • The Shrines of the Shias
  • New plans and new preparations
  • We are betrayed into the hands of robbers
  • A prince in exile
  • Pleasures of town life
  • Illness and misery
  • A last rush through the sun


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Voyage en Arabie

Blunt, Anne. Voyage En Arabie. Pèlerinage an Nedjed, Berceau de La Race Arabe. Paris: Hachette, 1882.

Voyage en Arabie est un récit par Lady Anne Blunt du périple qu'elle effectua avec son époux, le poète Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, dans la région du Najd de l'actuelle Arabie saoudite durant l'hiver 1878–1879. Lady Anne (1837–1917), fille du comte de Lovelace et petite–fille de Lord Byron, est non seulement connue en tant que voyageuse aventurière du Moyen–Orient, mais également comme la cavalière et l'éleveuse de chevaux arabes la plus accomplie de son temps. Le livre, initialement publié en 1881 à Londres par John Murray & Sons sous le titre Un pèlerinage au Nejd, fut écrit par Lady Anne et amplement édité par Wilfrid. L'ouvrage présenté ici est la traduction française de Léopold Derôme (1833–1889), qui parut à Paris l'année suivante. Ce livre est l'unique production de Derôme, homme de lettres et bibliophile, ayant trait aux récits de voyages. Bien que Derôme ne voyageât jamais en Arabie, il écrivit une introduction de 68 pages dans laquelle il prétend pénétrer dans la psychologie profonde des Bédouins d'Arabie. En s'inspirant amplement des vues de Lady Anne et de Wilfrid Blunt, il écrit que « l'Arabe du désert est emblématique de sa race, le père et le chef de la ville arabe […], c'est–à–dire noble et de sang pur ». Durant leur voyage, les Blunt accompagnèrent les tribus nomades du Najd de l'Arabie du Nord, jusqu'à Bagdad. Ils séjournèrent avec la tribu des Al Rachid dans leur capitale fortifiée d'Haïl. Les Al Rachid étaient les rivaux traditionnels du clan des Saoud, partisans du mouvement islamique wahhabite. Wilfrid Blunt offrit même à un moment donné de servir auprès de l'émir al-Rashid comme ambassadeur pour l'Europe. À chaque étape du voyage, Lady Anne commente l'excellence des chevaux qu'elle rencontra et teste ses montures lors d'excursions de chasse. Le livre fut illustré par Gaston Vuillier (mort en 1915), artiste et illustrateur prolifique qui travailla pour différentes maisons d'édition et journaux parisiens. Pour ses dessins, il s'appuya sur les croquis et les descriptions de Lady Anne. Charles Barbant (mort en 1922), dont l'atelier était souvent utilisé par les principaux éditeurs français, fournit les planches gravées. La traduction inclut une carte spécifiquement préparée pour cette édition, des tableaux généalogiques des tribus Al Rashid et Saoud, ainsi que des annexes sur l'histoire de la secte wahhabite et les conditions géophysiques de l'Arabie du Nord. Elle ne contient pas les commentaires de Wilfrid Blunt dans les notes de fin sur les chemins de fer de la vallée de l'Euphrate ou de Lady Anne sur « notre campagne persane », disponibles dans l'édition d'origine anglaise.


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America as I Saw It

Tweedie, Ethel Brilliana. America as I Saw It. New York: Macmillan, 1913.

The Globe: "No American could ask for a more sympathetic critic of his nation than Mrs. Alec-Tweedie, for she frankly loves both the country and the people. ... A book of acute and cutting kind criticism."

The Daily Telegraph: "Mrs. Alec-Tweedie has produced a brisk, breezy, rattling record of impressions gathered at full speed. . . . Not for one moment could the least sympathetic reader find himself bored by Mrs. Alec-Tweedie's society, and to be able to say this is to say much indeed."

The Standard {in a Leader): " Mrs. Alec-Tweedie in her witty book, 'America as I Saw It,' mercilessly attacks what she regards as the myths of Transatlantic energy and hustle. There is no doubt a good deal of truth in her criticism. A gifted author.''


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Roughing It

Twain, Mark. Roughing It. Toronto: Musson, 1899.
In 1861, young Mark Twain found himself adrift as a newcomer in the Wild West, working as a civil servant, silver prospector, mill worker, and finally a reporter and traveling lecturer. Roughing It is the hilarious record of those early years traveling from Nevada to California to Hawaii, as Twain tried his luck at anything and everything—and usually failed. Twain’s encounters with tarantulas and donkeys, vigilantes and volcanoes, even Brigham Young, the Mormon leader, come to life with his inimitable mixture of reporting, social satire, and rollicking tall tales.

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Rest not
Life is sweeping by
go and dare before you die.
Something mighty and sublime,
leave behind to conquer time.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe