by Annabel Abbs
The story of extraordinary women who lost their way – their sense of self, their identity, their freedom – and found it again through walking in the wild.
A feminist exploration of the power of walking in nature, following in the footsteps of Gwen John, Georgia O’Keeffe, Frieda Lawrence, Clara Vyvyan, Simone de Beauvoir, Daphne Du Maurier and Nan Shepherd. For centuries, the wilds have been male territory, while women sat safely confined at home. But not all women did as they were told, despite the dangers; history is littered with women for whom rural walking became inspiration, consolation and liberation.
In this powerful and deeply inspiring book, Annabel Abbs uncovers women who refused to conform, who recognised a biological, emotional and artistic need for wilderness, water and desert – and who took the courageous step of walking unpeopled and often forbidding landscapes. Part wild-walk, part memoir, Windswept follows an exhilarating journey from Abbs’ isolated car-less childhood to her walking the remote paths trodden by extraordinary women including Georgia O’Keeffe in the empty plains of Texas and New Mexico, Nan Shepherd in the mountains of Scotland, Gwen John following the Garonne, Simone de Beauvoir in the mountains and forests of France and Daphne du Maurier following the River Rhone. A single question pulses through their walks: How does a woman change once she becomes windswept?