Your book focuses on an upper-middle class female archaeologist from the early 1900s. My question for you is this: Would most successful women in this line of work fall into a higher social class? Would there have been a large amount of women explorers at the time?

Great question! There were many “famous” women archaeologists/explorers at the turn of the century, but we only remember a few standout ladies today—namely, Gertrude Bell, who was the female equivalent of Lawrence of Arabia, and Osa Johnson, who made travel films with her husband, Martin. Compare that number to names like Lawrence, Woolley, Shackleton, and Carter, and the result is pretty sad.

Unfortunately, women weren’t really seen as professional archaeologists/adventurers/explorers. If they went on lengthy trips to distant places, it was usually because they had an eccentric hobby or over-indulgent family. The thought of a woman studying naked heathens in the jungle was laughable (and possibly a little disturbing) to the Victorians. The only way it was acceptable for a lady to leave home and venture into the wilds was in order to convert the natives to Christianity, or at least try to teach them a “better” way of life through medicine or education.

Those conventions aside, there were plenty of women who struck out on their own. But to do so, one had to be wealthy, or at least well-funded. Whether male or female, the great explorers of the Victorian and Edwardian years typically came from families who could afford impractical (and expensive) pursuits. Freya Stark, who traveled through the Middle East in the years between the Wars, and Mary Kingsley, who made many expeditions into Africa, were ladies from upper-middle class, well-connected families.

In the Edwardian Era, there was a very fine line between ‘rich enough to travel’ and ‘so rich that travel was indecent’. A poor shop girl couldn’t realistically study indigenous peoples of Borneo, because it was financially out of her reach. But an English countess would have a hard time shaking off her societal obligations to do the same. Although she could afford it, she would never be taken seriously by her friends, family, or the archaeological community at the time.

That’s why we see most archaeologists/explorers/adventurers came from the lower rung of polite society. The upper-middle class could afford the travel, and weren’t always bound by the strict mores of the Edwardian era. In A LOVE THAT NEVER TIRES, Linley and her father are just that sort of people. The Talbot-Martins are well-connected (through cousin Berenice and the Hon. Reginald Bourne) and wealthy enough (they keep a villa overlooking Malta’s Grand Harbour!) to enjoy a successful career in archaeology.

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