This article was first written on 17th November 2018, by John Baker.
Dee Way, 72 spent four years trying to track down first edition copies of the book written by her great-great aunt Isabel Homewood. Now she’s finally seen the book, A Victorian Lady Cycles the World, published by Brown Dog Books of Bath.
“My mother Pauline Fooks, who died in 1989, had told me that the book existed and we hunted for it online. We found copies in the British Library in London and the Bodleian Library in Oxford and a few in American libraries. I finally got a photocopy of the book from my niece, Nicola Leonard, found in Seattle. Another niece, Yvonne McEeachern, found a copy in Toronto and then she bought one from Australia. We obtained an optical character recognition copy through my daughter, Rachel D’Avoine, and were able to send it off to a printer in New Zealand, but they wanted to make so many changes we decided to publish it with Brown Dog Books in Bath.”
The book is a recollection by Isabel Homewood, a Victorian woman who was widowed at the age of 48 and then began to cycle around the world. Mrs Homewood travelled widely around Europe, the Middle East, and Scandinavia, as well as across America, and through the Antipodes, all the while keeping a diary of her life and events. Mrs Homewood carried on cycling up to 1924, eventually dying aged 89 in 1933.
She wrote: “I was fifty years of age when I commenced to cycle in 1894 and I cycled till my 80th year. The first year I rode over 13,000 miles, in the second over 12,000 and for the many following years 10,000 each. I did not know then I was going to live to my 89th year and still retain my activity and love of travel and adventure.”
She crossed the Panama Isthmus before the canal was built, and travelled to New Zealand to visit her brother Walter Pemberton using sailing ships and steamers. Mrs Homewood returned to England from Australia only when the First World War began, going to London to train as a midwife.
Mrs Way said: “As she was asked by various bodies to comment on what she thought of certain situations, such as relations between the Armenians and the Turks, she decided to include her personal views of the people she met and their culture in her journals. “These contemporary accounts form the basis for this book,” said Mrs Way, who is a former university psychology lecturer.
Mrs Way has printed 200 copies of the book, which are being sold in Bradford on Avon at the Ex Libris bookshop in The Shambles at £9.99. The second edition is also available from Brown Dog Books and Amazon.
Available on Amazon now.
Update 9th January 2019:
Author of The Victorian Lady Cycles the World, Dee Way, speaks to BBC Sounds about the book, the journey that Isabel Homewood makes around the world and how it felt to see her Great-great Aunt’s diaries come to fruition. Listen to the interview here (starts at 1:08).