Wanderers – Kerri Andrews, 10 Great Women Walking

Wanderers A History of Women Walking is one of those books about walking but, it is solely about women and their experiences as walkers. And I must say, this makes this one an excellent book because if you think about it, there aren’t many books about women walking.


Wanderers - Kerri Andrews

It was interesting and depressing to read that the women who walked in the 1800s had the same problems as those walking now in the 2020s. Still, they did walk for long hours, sometimes with friends or family, but mostly their walks were solitary. I felt encouraged while reading about their walks and how walking changed and empowered them. That precious feeling of total loneliness in nature, hearing only animals and your thoughts, must be exhilarating. With every page, I wanted to walk a lot more, in both nature and city, lonely. And I’m sure any reader would do.

Wanderers A History of Women Walking is especially about ten women: Elizabeth Carter, Dorothy Wordsworth, Ellen Weeton, Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt, Harriet Martineau, Virginia Woolf, Nan Shepherd, Anaïs Nin, Cheryl Strayed, Linda Cracknell and also the author herself, Kerri Andrews. The walks these women took (whether in the city or nature) and how those walks shaped or improved their writing and creativity is fascinating. I find myself strolling the streets of Paris with Anais Nin, and I took a walk with Virginia Woolf around Bloomsbury. All around the UK countryside, I imagined walking with these amazing women; it was incredible. If you like walking and want to walk a lot more, read this one.

I have found a Tough girl podcast featuring Kerri Andrews talking about Wanderers. Enjoy! And if you like reading about walking, check out 14 Best Books About Walking.

Wanderers - Kerri Andrews

Wanderers A History of Women Walking

‘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 and The Wild Silence

‘Andrews features a wonderful cast of characters… It still feels somehow radical to talk about women ramblers and flâneuses; the sensitive, well-researched portraits in Wanderers rightly begin to redress the balance.’ The Idler

‘The reader of Kerri Andrews’s Wanderers: A History of Women Walking laces her boots and strikes out with ten women who walked, wrote and wrote about walking… [She] shares the rapture of Virginia Woolf’s cry: “Oh the joy of walking!”‘ Laura Freeman, The Critic

‘Think of famous walkers and it’s men like Wordsworth and Keats who likely spring to mind. But that’s only half the story.’ Country Walking Magazine

‘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 who, over the past three hundred years, have found walking essential to their sense of themselves, as people and as writers.

In a series of intimate, incisive portraits, 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, alternative view of the history of walking, Wanderers guides us through the different ways of seeing ‐ of being ‐ articulated by these ten pathfinding women.

‘With the absorbing voice and attention to detail of a favourite hiking companion, Andrews unearths the forgotten women who have walked for creativity, for independence and self-discovery, to remember, to forget, to escape violence, to find physical and emotional strength.’ Rachel Hewitt, historian, trail-runner and author of Map of a Nation

‘Thanks to this book, we know that even in solitude we never walk alone. A fine female tradition is at our backs, encouraging us along.’ Kathleen Jamie, author of Sightlines

Kerri Andrews

Kerri Andrews is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Edge Hill University. She writes about literary history, particularly untold or forgotten histories, and has published widely on women’s writing. Her book, Wanderers: A History of Women Walking, published by Reaktion in September 2020. Tracing the footsteps of ten women walker-writers 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, Wanderers offers a beguiling, alternative view of the history of walking.

Kerri is also one of the leaders of Women In The Hills, an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project aimed at exploring the factors enabling and inhibiting women’s access to upland landscapes. The project brings together people from all areas of walking, mountaineering, land access and management, to drive change in women’s access and experiences. Kerri is the General Editor of Nan Shepherd’s letters, the first-ever edition of Shepherd’s, which will be published in 2023 by Edinburgh University Press. She is also a keen hill-walker and a member of Mountaineering Scotland.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

A Non-Fiction a Month

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