‘”No husband!” echoed the Mufti. “And did you cross the seas from England without a husband to take care of you?” “Even so.”‘
In the autumn of 1859, Mabel Crawford of Through Algeria joins the ranks of Victorian spinsters of independent means who are claiming their right to travel aboard as ‘unprotected ladies’. A spirited advocate of female liberation, she embarks on a strenuous journey from Algiers to Bona, enduring heat, storms, snow and appalling lodgings with equal fortitude and and good humour. She records her adventures among the French and Arab inhabitants, whom she occasionally censures for deplorable hygiene or moral laxity, for the benefit of her less intrepid sisters in England.
The author may have risked her physical safety in undertaking the journey. Publishing this book, however, apparently required even more courage. In her introduction, she acknowledges that she may see herself branded as ‘… “strong-minded woman;” from whose wooden face, … blunt manners, and fiercely-independent air, society shrinks in horror.’ The emancipated reader of today will applaud her resolution in presenting to the public this captivating account of her travels.