Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

THE EXTRAORDINARY TALE OF KATE MARSDEN

THE EXTRAORDINARY TALE OF KATE MARSDEN
07 Dec
2017
by Jacki Hill-Murphy • Adventuress Publishing • £9.99 (paperback)

In 1891, while most women were still consigned to the roles of wife and mother, a young British nurse called Kate Marsden travelled to Siberia by boat, horseback, sledge and cart. She had made it her mission to meet the lepers of the region and improve their lot. A photograph (above) shows her resolute and sturdy, wrapped in a thick wad of fur, looking like a Christmas cake figure rolled in a generous layer of marzipan.

After crossing frozen rivers, wolf-filled forests and burning peat fields, she found the lepers living in miserable conditions, driven from their communities and surviving on twice-weekly food drops of rotten produce.

She had an ambitious vision for a leprasorium where the sufferers would be treated with dignity and housed in warm sanitary buildings, so returned to England to continue fundraising – petitioning Queen Victoria and Russian aristocracy among others.

But scandal began to dog her. There were suggestions she’d helped herself to some of the funds, behaved immorally (which, in her case, meant intimate relationships with women), made the whole journey up, or, perhaps worse, was nothing more than an ‘adventuress’, for whom the expedition had simply been one, long pleasure ride.

Jacki Hill-Murphy follows in her footsteps to try and find out the truth about this capable professional who focused the world’s attention on a much-stigmatised disease. Biography can be reductive but Hill-Murphy allows Marsden to exist in all her complexity. A disciplined, driven, charismatic woman, known for her empathy and humour, but hampered by mysterious periods of ill health and drawn to ‘the world’s applause’.

This account suffers quite badly from its self-published nature but, at its heart, there remains an extraordinary story about a compelling pioneer who defied Victorian convention, left a medical legacy, and expanded what was deemed appropriate behaviour for female travellers.

Click here to purchase The Extraordinary Tale of Kate Marsden by Jacki Hill-Murphy on Amazon

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Films

The uplifting story of a remarkable man who sailed the…

Books

by John Higgs • Weidenfeld & Nicolson • £20/£11 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Lewis Dartnell • Bodley Head • £18.99 (hardback)

Books

by Richard Williams • Polity Books • £15.99 (paperback)

Books

by Nicholas Jubber • John Murray Press • £20 (hardback)

Books

by Rob Dunn • Basic Books • £22.99 (hardback)

Books

by Edward Davey • Unbound • £9.99 (paperback)

Exhibitions

From July 2019 to February 2020, the Oxford University Natural…

Books

by Stephen Smith • Polity Books • £15.99 (paperback)

Books

by David Barrie • Hodder & Stoughton • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Juliet Blaxland • Sandstone Press • £9.99 (paperback)

Books

by Bill McKibben • Wildfire • £20 (hardback)

Exhibitions

A new exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery flies forward 100…

Exhibitions

From 12 July through to 10 November, the Fondation Cartier…

Reviews

A relaxed podcast, in which actor David Oakes interviews professionals…

Exhibitions

Exploring ideas of identity, heritage and life after trauma, Bahith…

Books

by Alex Rogers • Wildfire • £20 (hardback)

Films

An ‘environmental thriller’ focusing on the lives of campaigners working…

Exhibitions

The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition is open to visitors…

Films

In this moving, sometimes harrowing film from director Anthony Woodley,…