Alexandra David-Néel (1868-1969)



Alexandra David-Néel was born Louise Eugénie Alexandrine Marie David in Paris on October 24, 1868.

Exploring was in her blood. At the age of two, she took off down the road to see how far she could go. Undaunted by her parents, it was the woods at age five. By age fifteen she was going farther afield. This time it was London, only returning after exhausting her meagre funds. At seventeen she boarded a train for Switzerland and at nineteen Alexandra was touring France by bicycle.

In 1890, an inheritance from her godmother enabled her to visit India and Tibet. On this journey, lasting into 1891, David-Néel  was awed by the peaks of the Himalayas. She would return to the area several times and even live there for varying periods of time, once for over a year.


My favorite travel book of all time is My Journey to Lhasa in which David-Néel describes her arduous trip to The Forbidden City of Lhasa while in her fifties. Disguised as a man, often as a beggar, she not only reached Lhasa but lived in the city for two months!