Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Mary Papke

Committee Members

Don Richard Cox, Nancy M. Goslee


The purpose of this study was to observe the qualities of and techniques enlisted by British and Irish women travel writers corresponding with their sisters who remained at home. Some of the most vivid and telling works regarding the travels of extraordinary women are contained in the letters that they wrote to their families. These letters often involved brief factual commentaries; detailed descriptions of friends, other family members, or strangers encountered on a journey; advice and encouragement for life continuing on as normal back at home; and pictures or paintings that could serve as postcards to capture visions of people and places as seen by the traveler.

The travel letters of Emily Eden, Isabella Bird, and Mother Catherine McAuley are personal correspondences, and these letters provide insight into the nature of the writers, the lands in which they were visiting and traveling, life as they lived it in the nineteenth century, and the various relationships they fostered with their families, sisters, and individuals around them. Each female traveler I study is an artist in her own right, either through artistic skill at painting, or through her talent for verbal description and documentation, or else through the way she lived her life and encouraged her fellow sisters or other travelers. These women excelled at turning their lives and the lives of others into something different, special, and inspirational, and their letters reveal these exceptional gifts.

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