Henrietta Kent and the Feminised North

  • Heidi Hansson Umeå University
Emneord (Nøkkelord): Henrietta Kent, Feminisme, Within the Arctic Circle, Experiences of Travel through Norway, to the North Cape, Sweden and Lapland, Travel writing, Scandinavia, women travellers, travel and gender, representations of the North


Some time around 1876, S. H. Kent, Susanna Sarah Henrietta Kent or Henrietta Kent as she probably called herself, travelled through the northern parts of Norway and Sweden with her elderly mother. Her impressions from the northern trip were published in two volumes entitled Within the Arctic Circle: Experiences of Travel through Norway, to the North Cape, Sweden and Lapland, advertised in The Times 6 February 1877. There was a great deal of public interest in the Arctic at the time due to the scientific and cultural activity leading up to the first
International Polar Year 1882-83. Kent, however, does not foreground the adventure and excitement associated with the Polar expeditions in her narrative. Instead, she concentrates on the kind people and pleasant aspects of northern Scandinavia, asserting that the difficulties
of northern travel have been exaggerated and that nothing should "deter even lady travellers" from going North. At least as she presents the exercise in her preface, travelling in Norway and Sweden requires no particular strength or stamina. The dangers of the wild as well as the romance of the Arctic are absent from her book, making
northern Scandinavia seem quite woman-friendly. Kent's travelogue demonstrates in many ways the interaction between the construction of a gendered narrative self and the gendering of place.


Heidi Hansson, Umeå University
Heidi Hansson is Professor of English Literature at Umeå
University, Sweden and in the last few years, her research has concerned the representation of the North in travel writing and fiction from the late eighteenth century onwards. She is the leader of the interdisciplinary research programme Foreign North: Outside Perspectives on the Nordic North. Within this programme, she investigates gendered visions and accounts of the North in particular, and she is currently working on the study Northern Genders: The Nordic North as Gendered Space in Travel Writing and Fiction together with Anka Ryall, University of Tromsø. She is a member of the Umeå University steering committee for the Area of Excellence Northern Studies and the Assistant Editor of Journal of Northern Studies, an international referee journal.
Hvordan referere
Hansson, Heidi. 2007. «Henrietta Kent and the Feminised North». Nordlit 11 (2), 71-96. https://doi.org/10.7557/13.1572.

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