The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

August 11, 2016

August 11, 1866

Katherine Pease Routledge (August 11, 1866 to December 13, 1935), shared a taste for adventure and the exotic with her husband. Although both their names appear on this book,
With a Prehistoric People: The Akik├║yu of British East Africa, Being Some Account of the Method of Life and Mode of Thought Found Existent Amongst a Nation on Its First Contact with European Civilisation (1910), she was a partner, not an assistant in their research. The book mentions serval cat skins, and their status as commodity and clothing.

A Jstor article, "3 Women Explorers You Should Know" (Lorraine Boissoneault, December 17th, 2015), actually assumes she did the major part of the research. Discussing their adventures:

...[T]he subject that most intrigued ... [Katharine Routledge] was on the other side of the world: Easter Island (also known as Rapa Nui). Together with ...[Scoresby Routledge, her husband] Katherine led a sailing expedition to the island and began the first true archaeological survey of it in March, 1914. While there, Katherine studied many of the 887 statues carved by early peoples. She found the enormous heads scattered across the rolling green hills breathtaking.

In an attempt to understand who carved the statues and why, Katherine visited the elders of the remaining indigenous people, many of whom were afflicted with leprosy. Though fearful that she’d catch the disease, Katherine remained undaunted in her research. “How could one allow the last vestige of knowledge in Easter Island to die out without an effort? So I went, disinfected my clothes on return, studied, it must be confessed, my fingers and toes, and hoped for the best.” The Routledges ultimately excavated 32 statues (and possibly more), and Katherine’s research was published upon their return. Unfortunately, the explorer was unable to continue her career after leaving Easter Island: she suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was ultimately committed to a mental institution by her husband and a group of doctors, where she died in 1935.

The first modern survey of Easter Island; what an interesting story.

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