Fanny Bullock Workman was a complicated and restless woman who defied the rigid Victorian morals she found as restrictive as a corset. With her frizzy brown hair tucked under a topee, Workman was a force on the mountain and off. Instrumental in breaking the British stranglehold on Himalayan mountain climbing, this American woman climbed more peaks than any of her peers, became the first woman to map the far reaches of the Himalayas, the first woman to lecture at the Sorbonne and the second to address the Royal Geographic Society of London, whose members included Charles Darwin, Richard Francis Burton, and David Livingstone. Her books, replete with photographs, illustrations, and descriptions of meteorological conditions, glaciology, and the effect of high altitudes on humans, remained useful decades after their publication. Paving the way for a legion of female climbers, her legacy lives on in scholarship prizes at Wellesley, Smith, Radcliffe, and Bryn Mawr.
Author and journalist Cathryn J. Prince brings Fanny Bullock Workman to life and deftly shows how she negotiated the male-dominated world of alpine clubs and adventure societies as nimbly as she negotiated the deep crevasses and icy granite walls of the Himalayas. It's the story of the role one woman played in science and exploration, in breaking boundaries and frontiers for women everywhere.
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