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Offering a beguiling view of the history of walking, Wanderers guides us through the different ways of seeing—of being—articulated by ten pathfinding women writers. “A wild portrayal of the passion and spirit of female walkers and the deep sense of ‘knowing’ that they found along the path.”—Raynor Winn, author of The Salt Path   “I opened this book and instantly found that Offering a beguiling view of the history of walking, Wanderers guides us through the different ways of seeing—of being—articulated by ten pathfinding women writers. “A wild portrayal of the passion and spirit of female walkers and the deep sense of ‘knowing’ that they found along the path.”—Raynor Winn, author of The Salt Path   “I opened this book and instantly found that I was part of a conversation I didn't want to leave. A dazzling, inspirational history.”—Helen Mort, author of No Map Could Show Them This is a book about ten women over the past three hundred years who have found walking essential to their sense of themselves, as people and as writers. Wanderers traces their footsteps, from eighteenth-century parson’s daughter Elizabeth Carter—who desired nothing more than to be taken for a vagabond in the wilds of southern England—to modern walker-writers such as Nan Shepherd and Cheryl Strayed. For each, walking was integral, whether it was rambling for miles across the Highlands, like Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt, or pacing novels into being, as Virginia Woolf did around Bloomsbury. Offering a beguiling view of the history of walking, Wanderers guides us through the different ways of seeing—of being—articulated by these ten pathfinding women.


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Offering a beguiling view of the history of walking, Wanderers guides us through the different ways of seeing—of being—articulated by ten pathfinding women writers. “A wild portrayal of the passion and spirit of female walkers and the deep sense of ‘knowing’ that they found along the path.”—Raynor Winn, author of The Salt Path   “I opened this book and instantly found that Offering a beguiling view of the history of walking, Wanderers guides us through the different ways of seeing—of being—articulated by ten pathfinding women writers. “A wild portrayal of the passion and spirit of female walkers and the deep sense of ‘knowing’ that they found along the path.”—Raynor Winn, author of The Salt Path   “I opened this book and instantly found that I was part of a conversation I didn't want to leave. A dazzling, inspirational history.”—Helen Mort, author of No Map Could Show Them This is a book about ten women over the past three hundred years who have found walking essential to their sense of themselves, as people and as writers. Wanderers traces their footsteps, from eighteenth-century parson’s daughter Elizabeth Carter—who desired nothing more than to be taken for a vagabond in the wilds of southern England—to modern walker-writers such as Nan Shepherd and Cheryl Strayed. For each, walking was integral, whether it was rambling for miles across the Highlands, like Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt, or pacing novels into being, as Virginia Woolf did around Bloomsbury. Offering a beguiling view of the history of walking, Wanderers guides us through the different ways of seeing—of being—articulated by these ten pathfinding women.

30 review for Wanderers: A History of Women Walking

  1. 5 out of 5

    Moira McPartlin

    This is maybe not the best book to read during a global pandemic when travel is limited. Or maybe it is. A History of Women Walking explores the wandering lives of ten women who are famed for their walking covering a period from early eighteenth century to the present day. Hampered by convention, cumbersome clothes and risking the dangers of assault, the women, who walked vast distances alone, show bravely and tenacity in the face of such challenges. An inspiring read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Elif

    Reading about women walking is always empowering! https://elifthereader.com/books/wande... Reading about women walking is always empowering! https://elifthereader.com/books/wande...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    When I found myself checking the meanings of two words on a single page, I had to look up the author's background and, sure enough, she is a university academic in an English Department. This is one reason I enjoyed the book as it assumes that readers are intelligent and doesn't dumb down the language. Most of the subjects are based in Europe or the UK at some point. I felt the inclusion of Cheryl Strayed was a bit out of place with a modern American being included amongst all the historical wal When I found myself checking the meanings of two words on a single page, I had to look up the author's background and, sure enough, she is a university academic in an English Department. This is one reason I enjoyed the book as it assumes that readers are intelligent and doesn't dumb down the language. Most of the subjects are based in Europe or the UK at some point. I felt the inclusion of Cheryl Strayed was a bit out of place with a modern American being included amongst all the historical walkers. This book does make you think and I suspect the next time I pick up an Australian author who refers to walking, I will be pondering this book. A good start to 2021.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Liz Moffat

    ‘Books can be dangerous, the best ones should be labeled “This could change your life” ‘ Helen Exely. This book surprised me in the fact that even in the eighteenth century, women were going out walking in cities or the hills on their own for long periods at a time. They had the same concerns and worries as we would face nowadays such as accidents or attacks and the added worry for their reputation but that certainly didn’t stop them. Once on their walks, they were oblivious to everything apart f ‘Books can be dangerous, the best ones should be labeled “This could change your life” ‘ Helen Exely. This book surprised me in the fact that even in the eighteenth century, women were going out walking in cities or the hills on their own for long periods at a time. They had the same concerns and worries as we would face nowadays such as accidents or attacks and the added worry for their reputation but that certainly didn’t stop them. Once on their walks, they were oblivious to everything apart from their own thoughts and the sounds and sight of nature around them. This book has given me a real yearning for solitary walking, not all of the time because I love company but some of the time when I want to think things through or just experience nature without distraction. Kerri Andrews follows in the footsteps of ten women, from Elizabeth Carter and Dorothy Wordsworth around the Lake District in 1700s, through Nan Shepherd reminding me of my love of the vast and rugged Cairngorms, Virginia Woolf whose footsteps I retraced years later in Bloomsbury and to Linda Cracknell in Aberfeldy and Cheryl Strayed walking her troubles away on the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada in the present time. I loved all these women and their stories, they have inspired me!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    While this book really had me thinking about my own walking history and my connection to all these women who walked, and all the positive qualities provided by a life of walking, this one just didn't do it for me. It felt more like a dissertation with lots of scholarly language (and lots of unfamiliar Scottish terms), cerebral observations, and women largely unknown to me. It did make me think though, so there's that. While this book really had me thinking about my own walking history and my connection to all these women who walked, and all the positive qualities provided by a life of walking, this one just didn't do it for me. It felt more like a dissertation with lots of scholarly language (and lots of unfamiliar Scottish terms), cerebral observations, and women largely unknown to me. It did make me think though, so there's that.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Macdonald

    I liked the idea of this book, and I definitely enjoyed some of the chapters - but it isn’t a history of women walking. It is more an analysis of women’s writing on walking. The book is a collection of chapters each exploring the writings of one female walker. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on Elizabeth Carter and Ellen Weston, but I have to confess that I skipped quite a few pages towards the end of the book as it just got a bit too boring. Boring because the middle chapters seemed more of I liked the idea of this book, and I definitely enjoyed some of the chapters - but it isn’t a history of women walking. It is more an analysis of women’s writing on walking. The book is a collection of chapters each exploring the writings of one female walker. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on Elizabeth Carter and Ellen Weston, but I have to confess that I skipped quite a few pages towards the end of the book as it just got a bit too boring. Boring because the middle chapters seemed more of an essay of literary analysis; the number of ‘ands’ an author used, the number of dashes and what this means, how many commas in relation to the number of words in the passage etc. It just leant nothing to the narrative and has nothing to do with history or walking either. Andrews skirts on the surface of the lives of these women, without really getting into any depth about how they lived or with any context to what was happening in the world around them which would have some bearing on their experience as female walkers. More weight is given to analysing their writing, than to their stories. There is a clear absence of a “history” of women walkers too; just a collection of stories written from a small section of society. This brings me on to the area which was most disappointing; the lack of diversity. The author says in the final chapter that there are “dozens and dozens” more women who liked to write about their walks, yet this is collection of white, middle class, presumably straight women (sexuality is not discussed). She even mentions a “cross-dressing novelist George Sand” - why on earth weren’t they included as a welcome break from the almost identical characters throughout the book? Andrews says in the last paragraph “the omission of women from the literature of walking can no longer be justified”. I would have liked to see a broader representation of women in this book, too. I’m afraid this book didn’t do it for me, as a women who walks.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Erin Reads The World

    As human beings, walking defines us. We're walkers and we're talkers. Walking can be both a social and introspective pursuit. I know I'm not alone in saying that I get some of my best thinking in while walking. Walking is something both men and women can do. Yet there's so many things that can prohibit women from walking. That doesn't stop many of us though;; we walk the trails or pound the pavement. But, if you look at the literature of walking, women's experiences are vastly underrepresented. Th As human beings, walking defines us. We're walkers and we're talkers. Walking can be both a social and introspective pursuit. I know I'm not alone in saying that I get some of my best thinking in while walking. Walking is something both men and women can do. Yet there's so many things that can prohibit women from walking. That doesn't stop many of us though;; we walk the trails or pound the pavement. But, if you look at the literature of walking, women's experiences are vastly underrepresented. This is where Wanderers: A History of Women Walking by Kerri Andrews comes in. It's attempting to fill some of the gaps. In Wanderers we gain an insight into the lives of ten women who walked and wrote it. Kerri Andrews also peppers the book with our own experiences walking in the UK, often the same places as our ten women, who span back to Dorothy Wordsworth in the 18th Century to Linda Cracknell in the present day. Some of the chapters read like an academic text. Which given Kerri Andrews is a university lecturer, and this is a non-fiction book that frequently references other written works, I guess it's just part and parcel. Some of the chapters though, buzzed and the trodden landscapes brimmed with life. I especially liked the chapters on Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt, Virginia Woolf, Nan Shepherd and Anaïs Nin. I know the book is not trying to represent the history of every woman walker, but the women in the book are all very noticeably white and are mostly British. It does discuss the privileges that allow women to walk (namely money, social privileges and a lack of familial responsibilities - especially in the 18th and 19th) and the fact that the women included in the book are all known for their writing is a privilege in itself. But I would have liked to have heard about more women who weren't from the UK. I adored the insight into walking and the human experience of walking from the female perspective. I had hoped to like this book more than I did, but some bits felt a little bit too academic for me. Although it did further ignite my love of a long walk in the mountains.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kayleigh Cassidy

    This book is a wonderful idea. I enjoyed reading the various chapters and the different aspects of walking they explored. Each chapter presents a famous woman and their reasons for walking. Physical strength, self-discovery and overcoming personal difficulties were some of the examples. I also loved the ending, chapter Coda is beautiful and moving. It sums up the book very well: how the women Andrews has written about accompany her on her wandering adventures. The book was a little bit boring at This book is a wonderful idea. I enjoyed reading the various chapters and the different aspects of walking they explored. Each chapter presents a famous woman and their reasons for walking. Physical strength, self-discovery and overcoming personal difficulties were some of the examples. I also loved the ending, chapter Coda is beautiful and moving. It sums up the book very well: how the women Andrews has written about accompany her on her wandering adventures. The book was a little bit boring at times and I found Andrews narration which concluded each chapter to be a bit highbrow. For example, on page 247 Andrews writes, "I was also perplexed by what appeared to my northern European eyes as a peculiarly a-seasonal landscape." It's too wordy. I love the information Andrews offers on these women but her voice isn't very strong as a through thread. Also, as a history of women walking, I would expect more diversity. Unfortunately if felt like this book focused mainly on white, middle-upper class women. As a follow up I would like to see a COMPLETE history to women walking. To include more voices and stories.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ida

    I'm an avid walker, so was naturally drawn to this book. I will read anything about walking and anything about women empowering themselves. Great combo here. Andrews specifically focuses on women who have written about their walking experiences. So it's not about every well-known female pedestrian. She starts with some of her own experiences in the mountains of Scotland and then forays into ten separate essays, each focusing on one person. Some figures were familiar to me -- Virginia Woolf, Cher I'm an avid walker, so was naturally drawn to this book. I will read anything about walking and anything about women empowering themselves. Great combo here. Andrews specifically focuses on women who have written about their walking experiences. So it's not about every well-known female pedestrian. She starts with some of her own experiences in the mountains of Scotland and then forays into ten separate essays, each focusing on one person. Some figures were familiar to me -- Virginia Woolf, Cheryl Strayed. Others were new introductions. I learned about Dorothy Wordsworth, who thought nothing of walking 20 or more miles in a day, and every bit as accomplished as her famous brother, William. I'm going to look up writing by Linda Cracknell after reading about her here. In fact, this book grew my "to read" list quite a bit. I liked that Andrews retraced many of the walks described and shares a short blurb about her personal experience following the footsteps of the women who went before.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eric Shapiro

    4/5 - a well written overview of some examples of well known women “walker-writers”. Similar to Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways, but obviously with a more gendered focus here. In particular I enjoyed and connected with the sections on Nan Shepherd, Virginia Woolf, and Harriet Martineau. I’m not big on biographies so some parts did read a bit slowly than others, but overall an engaging read. For me, the connections between walking in landscapes (especially natural ones) and its relationship with 4/5 - a well written overview of some examples of well known women “walker-writers”. Similar to Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways, but obviously with a more gendered focus here. In particular I enjoyed and connected with the sections on Nan Shepherd, Virginia Woolf, and Harriet Martineau. I’m not big on biographies so some parts did read a bit slowly than others, but overall an engaging read. For me, the connections between walking in landscapes (especially natural ones) and its relationship with writing, creativity, and interior worlds is fascinating, so I found this to be a worthwhile look into some female writers who explored these themes both in their works and their lives.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I really enjoyed and savored reading this book, imagining myself walking the pathways of all the women who were adventurous enough to walk them and contemplate the world they were living in...Thankfully some of them recorded their observations, and later shared them to the world, and appreciate how the author brought them to our attention, and reflected in her own observations how they did or did not impact her. Enjoyed looking up the many places the women highlighted walked and being introduced I really enjoyed and savored reading this book, imagining myself walking the pathways of all the women who were adventurous enough to walk them and contemplate the world they were living in...Thankfully some of them recorded their observations, and later shared them to the world, and appreciate how the author brought them to our attention, and reflected in her own observations how they did or did not impact her. Enjoyed looking up the many places the women highlighted walked and being introduced to them.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

    This was a lovely gift to receive. I've been out today walking on my own in the snow and found myself accompanied by some of the wonderful women described in the book. It was a pleasure to read and a book I am sure to return to again and again. This was a lovely gift to receive. I've been out today walking on my own in the snow and found myself accompanied by some of the wonderful women described in the book. It was a pleasure to read and a book I am sure to return to again and again.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Caroline McQuistin

    I wanted to love this book a whole lot more than I did. It did however have some really lovely aspects to it and a very informative read if that’s what you’re looking for.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marianna

    A little too academic for me. I enjoyed the bits where the author wrote about her personal experiences.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rowan Cannell

    I was really looking forward to this book, but ultimately it felt like a set of assigned essays written by a college student.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Akosua Adasi

    If you’re interested in Romantic writers/nature/hiking, you’ll most likely love this book. If you’re interested in walking/pedestrianism generally, parts of these book will grab you and others will fade quickly. I’m of the latter group and while I enjoyed the chapters on Virginia Woolf and Anaïs Nin—they were the urban walkers of the book—I was largely unimpressed. I’m coming to think I’m somewhat averse/uninterested in books that are 90% recounting research and 10% writer’s voice. The most capt If you’re interested in Romantic writers/nature/hiking, you’ll most likely love this book. If you’re interested in walking/pedestrianism generally, parts of these book will grab you and others will fade quickly. I’m of the latter group and while I enjoyed the chapters on Virginia Woolf and Anaïs Nin—they were the urban walkers of the book—I was largely unimpressed. I’m coming to think I’m somewhat averse/uninterested in books that are 90% recounting research and 10% writer’s voice. The most captivating books are the ones that maintain voice even while sorting through facts and details. I’d hoped this would be one. Disappointed it wasn’t.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Emma Gattey

  18. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jan Bower

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Shaw

  21. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kelli Estes

  23. 5 out of 5

    Angela

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ellie Moodie

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jane Chancey Bullard

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joy

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

  28. 5 out of 5

    Georgia

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Mckay

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia Armendariz

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