CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Algerian Memories: A bicycle tour over the Atlas to the Sahara

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ISBN: 9781539691242
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: 2016-10-22
Number of pages: 80
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Fanny Bullock Workman (January 8, 1859 – January 22, 1925) was an American geographer, cartographer, explorer, travel writer, and mountaineer, notably in the Himalayas. She was one of the first female professional mountaineers; she not only explored but also wrote about her adventures. She set several women's altitude records, published eight travel books with her husband, and championed women's rights and women's suffrage. Born to a wealthy family, Workman was educated in the finest schools available to women and traveled in Europe. Her marriage to William Hunter Workman cemented these advantages, and, after being introduced to climbing in New Hampshire, Fanny Workman traveled the world with him. They were able to capitalize on their wealth and connections to voyage around Europe, North Africa, and Asia. The couple had two children, but Fanny Workman was not a motherly type; they left their children in schools and with nurses, and Workman saw herself as a New Woman who could equal any man. The Workmans began their travels with bicycle tours of Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Algeria and India. They cycled thousands of miles, sleeping wherever they could find shelter. They wrote books about each trip and Fanny frequently commented on the state of the lives of women that she saw. Their early bicycle tour narratives were better received than their mountaineering books. At the end of their cycling trip through India, the couple escaped to the Western Himalaya and the Karakoram for the summer months, where they were introduced to high-altitude climbing. They returned to this then-unexplored region eight times over the next 14 years. Despite not having modern climbing equipment, the Workmans explored several glaciers and reached the summit of several mountains, eventually reaching 23,000 feet (7,000 m) on Pinnacle Peak, a women's altitude record at the time. They organized multiyear expeditions but struggled to remain on good terms with the local labor force. Coming from a position of American privilege and wealth, they failed to understand the position of the native workers and had difficulty finding and negotiating for reliable porters. After their trips to the Himalaya, the Workmans gave lectures about their travels. They were invited to learned societies; Fanny Workman became the first American woman to lecture at the Sorbonne and the second to speak at the Royal Geographical Society. She received many medals of honor from European climbing and geographical societies and was recognized as one of the foremost climbers of her day. She demonstrated that a woman could climb in high altitudes just as well as a man and helped break down the gender barrier in mountaineering. In June 16, 1882 married William Hunter Workman, a man 12 years her senior. He was also from a wealthy and educated family, having attended Yale and having received his medical training at Harvard. In 1884 they had a daughter, Rachel. William introduced Fanny to climbing after their marriage, and together they spent many summers in the White Mountains in New Hampshire; here she summited Mount Washington (6,293 feet or 1,918 metres) several times. Climbing in the Northeastern United States allowed Fanny to develop her abilities together with other women. Unlike European clubs, American climbing clubs in the White Mountains allowed women to be members and encouraged women to climb. They promoted a new vision of the American woman, one who was both domestic and athletic, and Workman took to this image with enthusiasm. By 1886, women sometimes outnumbered men on hiking expeditions in New England. In her paper on the gender dynamics of climbing in the region, Jenny Ernie-Steighner states that this formative experience shaped Workman's commitment to women's rights, pointing out that "no other well-known international mountaineers of the time, male or female, spoke as openly and fervently about women's rights".

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