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9 trailblazing female explorers

By: Matt Hickman on Oct. 24, 2016, 12:17 p.m.
Annie Londonderry and her bike

Photo: Public domain

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Annie Londonderry (1870-1947)

Picking up where the intrepid Nellie Bly left off, in 1894 Annie “Londonderry” Cohen Kopchovsky caused Victorian jaws to drop by also circumnavigating the globe. However, whereas Bly completed her journey in the relative comfort of steamship and rail, the Latvia-born Londonderry bicycled — yes, biked — from Boston to Boston via France, Egypt, Jerusalem, Sri Lanka, Singapore and other locales. Of course, considering that Londonderry was an exceptional woman, not a bike-straddling sorceress, boats and trains did come into play at certain points (i.e., traversing bodies of water).

Completing the journey — the “most extraordinary journey ever undertaken by a woman” per The New York World — in 15 months, the bloomer-wearing Londonderry’s adventure was an early example of stunt marketing. She rented her body and bicycle (a 42-pound Columbia, in case you were wondering) to savvy advertisers who were quick to realize that all eyes would be on the young mother as she circled the world. In fact, the globetrotting cyclist’s adopted surname is taken from her main corporate sponsor: a bottled mineral water company based out of Londonderry, New Hampshire. Talk about a true spokeswoman.