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August 29, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

VICTORIAN LADY TRAVELLERS by Dorothy Middleton (Academy Chicago Publishers: $11; 182 pp., illustrated). Middleton offers concise accounts of the careers of seven "globe trotteresses." These redoubtable adventurers include Kate Marsden, a nurse who worked to improve the treatment of lepers in Imperial Russia; the dilettantish, energetic Isabella Bird Bishop and the almost comically adventurous Mary Kingsley. At a time when most women were expected to remain quietly at home, Middleton notes her subjects, "Fortified by a kind of innocent vigor, convinced of the civilizing mission of woman, clothed in long skirts and armed with an umbrella or sunshade according to the climate . . . covered thousands of miles--writing, painting, observing, botanizing, missionizing, collecting and, latterly, photographing."

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