Following Isabella: Travels in Colorado Then and Now

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University of Oklahoma Press, Dec 7, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 324 pages

A world traveler, Isabella Bird recorded her 1873 visit to Colorado Territory in her classic travel narrative, A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains. This work inspired Robert Root’s own discovery of Colorado’s Front Range following his move from the flatlands of Michigan. In this elegantly written book, Root retraces Bird’s three-month journey, seeking to understand what Colorado meant to her—and what it would come to mean for him.

Following Isabella is a work of intersecting histories. Root interweaves an overview of Bird’s life and work with regional history, nature writing, and his own travels to produce a uniquely informative and entertaining narrative. He probes Bird’s self-transformation as her writing moved from private letters to published books, and also draws on reflections of other authors of her day, including Grace Greenwood and Helen Hunt Jackson. Like Bird, Root experiences his most fulfilling moments in the mountains, climbing formidable Longs Peak, living alone in the cabin of famed editor William Allen White, and wandering wild landscapes.

Through reflections on earlier writers’ experiences, and by weighing his own response to them, Root learns not only how to come to Colorado, as visitors so often do, but more important, how to stay.


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FOLLOWING ISABELLA: Travels in Colorado Then and Now

User Review  - Kirkus

Amiable, bookish wanderings along paths blazed by a genteel lady in the Rockies more than a century ago.Root, a retired professor from Michigan, tracks the English travel writer Isabella Bird, whose A ... Read full review


User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Root takes Isabella Bird's late 19th-century travel narrative, A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains, as his guide for exploring the Colorado mountains around where he currently resides. As he retraces ... Read full review


The Plains
The Canyon
The Park
The Peak
Southern Circuit
Mining District
The Last Canyon
The Park in Winter

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About the author (2011)

Robert Root, Professor Emeritus of English, Central Michigan University, teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Ashland University. An author and editor, he recently published Landscapes with Figures: The Nonfiction of Place and The Nonfictionist's Guide: On Reading and Writing Creative Nonfiction.