In 1880, Isabella Bird visited the Malay Peninsula — romantically dubbed “The Golden Chersonese” — and was still able to refer to it as an almost unknown land. The world’s most famous female travel writer of the nineteenth century set sail from Japan and called at Hong Kong, Canton and Saigon before reaching Singapore. Bearing letters of introduction to the elite of Malacca and Penang, Bird was able to observe life on the west coast of the peninsula before steaming upriver through mangrove swamps to explore the interior of the land. From courtroom to elephant back, from the grandeur of Malacca’s Stadthuys to the jungle calm of a picturesque Malay village on stilts, this indefatigable Victorian explorer offers invaluable descriptions and delightful hand-drawn sketches of life in late nineteenth-century Singapore and the Malay Peninsula.
About the author
Isabella Bird was born in 1831 and following a spinal operation at the age of eighteen began to travel on the advice of her doctors. She visited China, Tibet, Japan, Korea, North America, the Pacific, Persia, Morocco and numerous other places, and wrote more than a dozen books about her travels making her one of the most prolific and well-known female travel writers of the nineteenth century. In 1892, Bird was made the first woman fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. She died in 1904.