chapter  3
Traveller
Pages 16

Shortly after leaving her husband in 1825, Flora Tristan departed France in her capacity as a ladies’ maid. This was the first of many journeys both abroad and in France, being followed by a visit to England in 1826, several trips into the provinces around 1830, another journey to England in 1831, and a voyage to Peru in 1833-4. Tristan made two further trips to England in 1835 and 1839, and travelled extensively within France in 1843-4. These voyages made of Tristan a well-travelled woman by the standards of the day, but nevertheless she was far from unique. Women were increasingly represented amongst the mobile population whose search for economic wellbeing took them to the towns, permanently or temporarily, in the nineteenth century,1 and they also participated in Europe’s encounter with lands and peoples beyond its borders, in that heyday of colonial expansion. If the majority of women who left their homes were escaping the limited employment opportunities in their places of origin, however, some, like Tristan, travelled from choice as much as from necessity. They were inspired by curiosity, and were motivated by what Flora Tristan described as a ‘taste for adventurous voyages’.2