For over sixteen centuries, women have been undertaking great journeys and writing about their experiences, yet the traditional image of them is still that of an intrepid Victorian lady vigorously prodding the ends of the earth with her parasol. But by their very nature, women travel writersare a non-conformist breed. The abbess Etheria's fourth-century account of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land relates not only the religious significance of her journey, but also the difficulties of mountaineering on Mount Sinai. Mary Wollstonecraft, who is celebrated as a pioneer feminist, wrote of hersecret voyage in 1795 to Scandinavia - all for the love of a cad. Isabella Bird was a meek and dutiful woman at home, but once let loose in 'the congenial barbarism of the desert', she assumed an unladylike 'up-to-anything free-legged air'; while her contemporary Mary Kingsley canoed herselfserenely through the white waters of West African rivers impeccably dressed in black silk and bonnet. Closer to our own time, some of the most glamorous women of the 1920s and 1930s were likely to feel just as comfortable in The Tatler as in the cockpit of a Gypsy Moth or stalking dinner in acentral-Asian wasteland. In fact, the only thing these women have in common is that they all wrote first-hand accounts of their journeys. Wayward Women recounts the adventures of some 400 of these travellers, together with full bibliographical details of all the books they produced between them. These writings, many of which are brought to light here for the first time in generations, form a significant and previously neglected bodyof literature, full of insight, courage, and humour.