From the back cover of the Pacific Basin Books edition (Kegan Paul, 1985):
Isabella Bird’s account of her journeys in Korea in 1898 represents one of the very rare accounts of that country in the latter part of the nineteenth century. At that time Korea was virtually a forbidden land and had only been open to foreigners for about ten years. It was and had been under Chinese influence for centureis.
The trip was very difficult but so fascinating that, true to character, Isabella adored it. She undertook many arduous journeys by land and river, observed the breathtakingly beautiful countryside, visited Buddhism monasteries and had many audiences with the Korean king and his soon to be assassinated queen. While Isabella was on her journey the Japanese invaded Korea and she had to leave hastily, ending up in China, penniless.
Isabella L Bird (Mrs Bishop) was born in 1831. She won fame in her own time as surely the most remarkable woman traveller of the nineteenth century. she published 9 books about her travels, all of them best sellers in their day. The daughter of a cleric, it was not until she was 44 that she embarked on her mammoth journeys to Hawaii, Japan, Tibet and many other places. her writing is guaranteed to produce a thirst for adventure and travel. She died in 1904.
The text is available in a number of editions from different publishers. The edition linked above is a two-volume illustrated edition from Cambridge University Press (2012), but plenty of other versions are available, with Routledge / Kegan Paul being consistent supporters of the text. Simply search your normal bookstore for one that suits your needs.
Table of contents
(from the Adamant Media Corporation edition)
- First Impressions of Korea.
- First Impressions of the Capital.
- The Kur-Dong
- Seoul, the Korean Mecca
- The Sailing of the Sampan
- On the River of Golden Sand
- Views Afloat.
- Natural Beauty – the Rapids
- Korean Marriage Customs
- The Korean Pony – Korean Roads and Inns
- Diamond Mountain Monasteries
- Along the Coast
- Impending War-Excitement at Chemulpo
- Deported to Manchuria
- A Manchurian Deluge – A Passenger Cart – An Accident
- Mukden and Its Missions
- Chinese Troops on the March
- Nagasaki – Wladivostok
- Korean Settlers in Siberia
- The Trans-Siberian Railroad
- The King’s Oath – An Audience
- A Transition Stage
- The Assassination of the Queen
- Burial Customs
- Song-Do: A Royal City
- The Phyong-Yang Battlefield
- Northward Ho!
- Over the An-kil Yung Pass
- Social Position of Women
- Exorcists and Dancing Women
- the Hair-Cropping Edict
- the Reorganized Korean Government
- Education and Foreign Trade
- Dæmonism or Shamanism
- Notes on Dæmonism Concluded
- Seoul in 1897
- Last Words on Korea
Appendix A. Mission Statistics for Korea 1896.
Appendix B. Direct Foreign Trade of Korea 1896-95.
Appendix C. Return of Principal Articles of Export for the Years 1806-95.
Appendix D. Population of Treaty Ports.
Appendix E. Treaty Between Japan and Russia, With Reply of H. E., the Korean Mlnister for Foreign Affairs.