Peak & Northern Footpaths Society (est.1894)

Book Review: Wanderers: A History of Women Walking, By Kerri Andrews, published by Reaktion Book, 2020

Pauline Williams

This article is from Signpost 68, Summer 2021

Kathleen Jamie states in her foreword to this book that "Wanderers discovers a history of women walkers that spans three hundred years ... Each chapter explores the life and work and walking of a woman".

This is an engrossing book. Men have dominated the literature on walking. The experiences of women who walk have been largely ignored. Kerri Andrews’ purpose is to ‘offer an alternative view of the literary history of walking by making visible the previously unacknowledged breadth, depth and distinctiveness of ten women writing about walking’.

She draws our attention to these women walkers, giving each a chapter in which she explores their lives through their walking and their writing. From Dorothy Wordsworth, Ellen Weeton, and Virginia Woolf, to Nan Shepherd, Anais Nin, and Linda Cracknell, these women all found w alking to be an integral part of themselves. The book provides a very interesting insight into how they observed the world around them and communicated that in their work. History has largely ignored such writing. Research into Dorothy Wordsworth’s writing on walking, for example, shows how much her brother William used her notebooks for inspiration and yet her contribution was never acknowledged in his work.

It is possible to walk with these women as you read about them and that is one of the strengths of this book. There is a tangible perception of the individual, an understanding of how important walking was to them and the pleasure they took in their walking. Full of interesting facts and information this is an excellent read, opening up the largely hidden world of women who walk.

The appendix offers suggestions for further reading as the author has focused this book on those women for whom walking had to intersect with other areas of their lives.

If you would like to find out more the issues covered in this book take a look at these two websites: https://kerriandrews.co.uk/ and https://womeninthehills.co.uk//


Next: PNFS Launches its Online Talks

Page title:Book Review: Wanderers: A History of Women Walking, By Kerri Andrews, published by Reaktion Book, 2020
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