Woman in the Nineteenth Century

by Margaret Fuller

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

On Books of Travel

[Footnote: It need not be said, probably, that Margaret Fuller did not think the fact that books of travel by women have generally been piquant and lively rather than discriminating and instructive, a result of their nature, and therefore unavoidable; on the contrary, she regarded woman as naturally more penetrating than man, and the fact that in journeying she would see more of home-life than he, would give her a great advantage,—but she did believe woman needed a wider culture, and then she would not fail to excel in writing books of travels. The merits now in such works she considered striking and due to woman's natural quickness and availing herself of all her facilities, and any deficiencies simply proved the need of a broader education.—[EDIT.]]

Among those we have, the best, as to observation of particulars and lively expression, are by women. They are generally ill prepared as regards previous culture, and their scope is necessarily narrower than that of men, but their tact and quickness help them a great deal. You can see their minds grow by what they feed on, when they travel. There are many books of travel, by women, that are, at least, entertaining, and contain some penetrating and just observations. There has, however, been none since Lady Mary Wortley Montague, with as much talent, liveliness, and preparation to observe in various ways, as she had.

A good article appeared lately in one of the English periodicals, headed by a long list of travels by women. It was easy to observe that the personality of the writer was the most obvious thing in each and all of these books, and that, even in the best of them, you travelled with the writer as a charming or amusing companion, rather than as an accomplished or instructed guide.

Return to the Woman in the Nineteenth Century Summary Return to the Margaret Fuller Library

Anton Chekhov
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Susan Glaspell
Mark Twain
Edgar Allan Poe
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Herman Melville
Stephen Leacock
Kate Chopin
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson