Anna Brones on Annie Londonderry
I learned of Annie Londonberry several years ago in Peter Zheutlin’s book Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride.
Born in 1870 in Latvia, Annie “Londonderry” Cohen Kopchovsky was the first woman to cycle around the world. Despite never having ridden a bicycle before, in 1894 she set off on an adventurous journey, promising to circle the globe in 15 months.
She pedaled off with a change of clothes and a revolver, and in exchange for $100, promised to place a placard for the Londonderry Lithia Water Company on her bicycle. Today, sponsorship might be the norm for many grand adventures, but at the time, it certainly challenged the era’s gender norms.
The 1890s were a time when the bicycle was intricately linked to feminism, and as Annie set out she became a symbol of the movement. Annie was a savvy storyteller and promoter, telling tales wherever she went, some true and some not-so-true. Eventually, she completed her journey, calling it “the most extraordinary journey ever undertaken by a woman.”
After her return, she wrote a column for New York World, with the byline “The New Woman.”
What was a “new woman” in the late 1800s might be seen as a modern woman today, and yet, we still struggle with some of the obstacles Annie faced over 100 years ago. Annie left three children behind to take off on her journey; today female athletes and adventurers are often questioned about their mothering skills and can experience severe gender bias. Women suffer from a pay gap, both in sponsorship and professional sports salaries. In some countries, it’s still considered improper for a woman to ride a bicycle.
Annie is proof that we are capable of doing what we want. We can set our own goals and our own definitions of success. We can be who we want to be.
– Anna Brones, Artist, Writer, Activist
I find Anna Brones to be an incredibly inspiring woman. Thank you for sharing your talent with us and giving our readers the first glimpse of Annie Londonderry. A quick peek at her website will give you a little insight on all of her incredible projects. Anna beautifully expresses herself through art, words, and food. Oh how this woman can write about food. Wait, what are we doing talking papercuts???
Be sure to subscribe to Comestible where you’ll find bits of all of her favorite things, everything from gourmet recipes to social activism. And follow along as she brings the Women’s Wisdom Project to fruition, that’s 100 papercuts of wise women in 2018. Heck yeah!