Ida Pfeiffer
(1797-1858)

"When I was but a little child, I had already a strong desire to see the world. Whenever I met a travelling-carriage, I would stop involuntarily, and gaze after it until it had disappeared... "
from A Visit to Iceland and the Scandinavian North

As a young child Ida Pfeiffer dreamed of traveling. She was born as Ida Reyer in Vienna, Austria in 1797. Ida had five brothers. Her father treated her just like her brothers, she wore the same clothes, had the same education but when Ida was nine her father died. In 1820, when Ida was 22 years old, she married a man named Pfeiffer, who was a widower and a government official. Pfeiffer was much older than Ida. They had two boys. Mr. Pfeiffer lost his job and Ida had to give piano and drawing lessons to help pay the family bills. Her brothers paid for her son's education. Her mother left her a small amount of money when she died in 1831. It was enough for Ida and the boys to live on. In 1835 Ida and Mr. Pfeiffer separated. By 1842, the boys were grown and had homes of their own and Ida was free to travel as she had dreamed as a child.

She traveled first to the Holy Land. Ida knew it was dangerous to travel alone and she thought that she might never return from her trip so she wrote her will just in case. She saw the pyramids, the Sphinx, the tomb of Queen Hatshepsut, Jerusalem, and Cairo. The journey took a little over ten months. Ida kept a journal during the trip and each night she wrote in pencil about her adventure during the day. In 1846 her journal was published in Austria. It became one of the most popular travel books in Europe. In 1852 it was published in England as A Ladies' Visit to the Holy Land, Egypt, and Italy. Ida used the profits from the book sales to take her next journey, she traveled to Iceland. After the trip Ida wrote a book called Journey To Iceland, and Travels in Sweden and Norway. Later she wrote A Lady's Voyage Round the World. Her books became so popular that when she announced she was going to travel again in 1851 she received many offers of free transportation from railroad and steamship companies. In 1853 she wrote A Visit to Iceland and the Scandinavian North.  A Lady's Second Voyage Round the World became a best seller. 

Ida Pfeiffer died in Vienna, Austria in 1858 from a tropical disease.

A Woman's Journey Round the World  
A Visit to Iceland and the Scandinavian North
 

By Melissa and Nicole D., fourth grade, 2004

BACK