Biography of Female Explorer and Adventurer Alexandra David-Neel Part 1
About the famous female explorer and adventurer Alexandra David-Neel, biography and history of her accomplishments.
FOOTNOTE PEOPLE IN WORLD HISTORY
ALEXANDRA DAVID-NEEL (1868-1969), Explorer, writer, adventurer
Alexandra David-Neel spent many years in Tibet and was the first European to visit various parts of that mysterious land--much less the first European woman. Some of the hardships and hazards she faced were unbelievably difficult, yet she never hesitated to push on. Her heroic adventures were fully documented in a number of books and articles she published in French and English.
Alexandra David was born in Paris to French parents of moderate income in 1868. She spent an unhappy childhood, often ran away from home, and came to detest her mother. As a young person Alexandra dreamed of traveling to faraway places. Although she was devoted to her father, she left home as soon as possible to make her way in life.
Alexandra was influenced by Oriental art, the stoicism of Epictetus, and ambition. She became completely self-disciplined. All of her life she was capable of denying herself diversions or physical pleasure.
Only 5 ft. tall, she steeled her body to withstand the rigors of the hard life. Photographs of her in the 1890s reveal a face with a quizzical but determined countenance. In the last decade of the 19th century, she became a renowned opera performer, traveling to Hanoi, Athens, and Tunis with various touring opera companies. She eventually tired of the theater and turned, in 1903, to journalism in order to support herself. Her articles, generally on Easter topics, were published in the magazines of England and France. But always her main goal was to explore the lands of central Asia.
Against her better judgment, she married in 1904. Her husband was Philippe-Francois Neel (1861-1941), a distant cousin, who was a representative of the French government in Tunis. Their relationship was far from traditional; Alexandra stated more than once that marriage and the role of wife and mother were repressive and threatening to her independence. Sex was evidently repugnant to her, and she adamantly refused to consider bearing children. Most of the time the couple lived apart, while still professing love for one another. Philippe Neel provided his wife with money to carry out her explorations even when she remained in Tibet for 14 years.
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