In Conversation with Rosemary Brown and Jacki Hill-Murphy

15th July 2021 8:00pm, Stanfords

The life and journeys of two trailblazing women and their amazing adventures!

Stanfords hosts authors Rosemary Brown and Jacki Hill-Murphy  who will travel back in time to talk about their fascinating new books and the pioneering adventures of the two incredible women who inspired them.

Intrepid journalist Nellie Bly raced around a man’s world – alone and literally with just the clothes on her back – to beat the fictional record set by Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days. She won the race in 72 days in 1890 and became a global celebrity. Awed by her achievement and shocked by its present-day obscurity, Rosemary J Brown set off 125 years later to re-enact Nellie Bly’s journey.

Along her 22,500-mile journey, among other places, Rosemary Brown followed Nellie into novelist Jules Verne’s study (Amiens, France), the Temple of the Tooth (Kandy, Sri Lanka), through a 98-mph typhoon (Hong Kong), into the dark side of Canton (now Guangzhou, China), inside the Great Buddha’s belly (Kamakura, Japan) and over to New York – site of the race’s start and finish.

Through her re-creation of that epic global voyage, the author brings to life Nellie Bly's remarkable achievements, including pioneering undercover journalism, and shines a light on a forgotten heroine of history.

Writer and explorer Jacki Hill-Murphy pays tribute to the invincible spirit and achievements of Isabella Bird in this fascinating book as she follows in the footsteps of this remarkable Victorian adventurer.

Isabella Bird travelled to the wildest places on earth, but at home in Britain she lay in bed, hardly able to write: 'an invalid at home and a Samson abroad'. In Japan she rode on a 'yezo savage' through foaming floods along unbeaten tracks, and was followed in the city by a crowd of a thousand, whose clogs clattered 'like a hailstorm' as they vied for a glimpse of the foreigner. She documented America before and after the Civil War and was deported from Korea with only the tweed suit she stood up in during a Japanese invasion. In China she was attacked with rocks and sticks and called a foreign dog, but she never gave up and went home.

'The prospect of the unknown has its charms.' Transformed by distant lands, she crossed raging floods, rode elephants, cows and yak, clung to her horse's neck as it clambered down cliff paths, slept on simple mats on the bare ground, unable to change out of wet clothes or get out of the searing heat.

Her travels and the books she wrote about them show courage and tenacity, fuelled by a restless spirit and a love of nature. She is as unique now as she was then.

Speaker profiles
Rosemary Brown and Jacki Hill-Murphy

Rosemary J Brown is a London-based journalist. An avid traveller, she is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a Churchill Fellow. In her quest to put female adventurers ‘back on the map’ she speaks at the Globetrotters Club, Women of the World festivals and schools. She helped to organise The Heritage of Women in Exploration conference at the Royal Geographical Society. Her articles about female adventurers have appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, The Guardian, The Observer, The Daily Express, The People’s Friend, etc.

Rosemary volunteers with refugees, asylum seekers and people facing homelessness. She made it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, overland to Machu Picchu and along the High Route of the Alps. She plays in a ukulele band and has lived in Canada, Florida, Washington, DC, and Paris.

Jacki Hill-Murphy MA, FRGS, is an explorer, writer and speaker who has travelled to some of the most inhospitable places on earth to re-create the journeys of daring women adventurers from the past. Isabella Bird is one of those great women and she saw, while walking in her footsteps across the Lower Himalayas, that the valiant Miss Bird had left her inhibitions at home and journeyed into the unknown seeking freedom through wilderness and curiosity. Jacki is the author of Adventuresses and The Extraordinary Tale of Kate Marsden. She is the director of Under the Sky Events, giving adventure holidays to care experienced adults to increase their well-being

Booking & payment


Buy tickets via Eventbrite; £5 includes a glass of wine


7 Mercer Walk, Covent Garden
United Kingdom

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