of a Good Thick Skirt
1994 Flamingo ( Collins ) ISBN 0 00 654748 6, Paperback edition
Do women travel in a way different from men? Yes! This is about the many women
travellers and explorers who travelled the world at different times and for many
Not excessively concerned about reaching their destination,
women tend to wander, to deviate from the well-trodden paths.
They focus, not on the horizon, but on what is going on around
them. They are good letter writers and keepers of diaries which
is a boon to the researcher. The earliest traveller in this
book is Egeria, who went to Jerusalem in 383 CE and
was an enthusiastic letter writer.
The Blessings of a Good Thick Skirt is about the many
women travellers and explorers who travelled the earth for
a variety of reasons: to lead a more exciting and challenging
life, to make a religious pilgrimage, to escape marriage,
to accompany their husbands or, as in the case of Mary Kingsley,
to satisfy a pure and unashamed curiosity. The title
comes from a remark she made about the new, modern sort of
clothes – bloomers, divided skirts etc – that
the New Woman was starting to wear and which she resolutely
refused to wear.
was a woman apart but so too were Alexandra David- Neel,
James Barry and, my own favourite, Margery Kempe.
There are some 127 women in this book and having reached
that number, my agent said severely: “Stop researching
and get that book written.”
The Blessings of a Good Thick Skirt is the result.