May French Sheldon
Mary French Sheldon (May 10, 1847 – 1936), as author May French Sheldon, was an American author and explorer.
Early years and education
Mary French was born May 10, 1847, at Bridgewater, Pennsylvania. Her father was Joseph French, a civil engineer, and her mother Elizabeth J. French (née Poorman), a spiritualist who later practiced "galvanic medicine" in Boston, as did her sister, Dr. Belle French Patterson.
She was educated in the United States and overseas, studying art and developing into an author and ethnologist.
In 1876, she married an American, Eli Lemon Sheldon, a banker, and they moved to London where they established publishing firms.
She acquired fame for an expedition. In 1891, inspired by the activities of Henry Morton Stanley, who was a family friend, she left London for Africa. She was unaccompanied, and sought assistance amongst the African peoples as she explored around Lake Chala. She returned with ethnographic materials, wrote on her experience, and undertook a lecture tour. French Sheldon received multiple awards for her exhibition at the World's Columbian Exposition, and was appointed membership in societies such as the Writer's Club and the Anthropological Society of Washington. She was made a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, among the first fifteen women to receive this honour, in November 1892.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Eagle, Mary Kavanaugh Oldham (1895). "«An African Expedition» by Mrs. May French Sheldon, F. R. G. S.". The Congress of Women Held in the Woman's Building: World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, U.S.A., 1893 (Public domain ed.). International Publishing Company.
- Bell, Morag; McEwan, Cheryl (November 1996). "The Admission of Women Fellows to the Royal Geographical Society, 1892–1914; the Controversy and the Outcome". The Geographical Journal. 162 (3): 295–312. doi:10.2307/3059652.
- Boisseau, Tracey Jean (2004). White Queen: May French-Sheldon and the Imperial Origins of American Feminist Identity. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-11102-1.