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Agnes Herbert

Guest Writer

March 03, 2020

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"My friend shudders at my slaying a rhinoceros but manages to eat part of an unfortunate sheep immediately afterwards. I wonder if the good lady's words ring true. She may be right, and books on sport and adventure are only for men and boys, the sterner sex. If, therefore, you, reader o' mine, should regard all forms of taking life as unwomanly, read no more . . . We went to Alaska to shoot, and-we shot."

- Agnes Herbert, Two Dianas in Alaska

Not much is recorded about Agnes Herbert and very few details about her personal life are known. She was, however, a prolific writer and wrote multiple volumes of her hunting expeditions and adventures in the late 19th/early 20th century. We know that Agnes was a native to the Isle of Man, a small British island between Ireland and England. We know she married and was later widowed, the latter giving her the freedom and funds to be able to do what she loved: travel, write, and hunt.

In the British Empire, women were not known to be travelers, let alone game hunters. But Agnes and her cousin Cecily frequently took exotic trips to explore, write, experience nature, and hunt. Agnes documented each hunting trip, referring to herself and Cecily as the “two Dianas” (Diana being the Roman goddess of the hunt). Together they explored three continents, each trip producing a book.

In Two Dianas in Somaliland, Agnes writes, “It is not that I imagine the world is panting for another tale about a shoot. I am aware that of the making of sporting books there is no end. Simply – I want to write. And in this unassuming record of a big shoot, engineered and successfully carried through by two women, there may be something of interest; it is surely worth more than a slight endeavor to engage the even passing interest of one person of average intelligence in these days of universal boredom. … So at the end of March 1900 we planned a sporting trip to Somaliland – very secretly and to ourselves, for women hate being laughed at quite as much as men do, and that is very much indeed.”

Agnes passed in 1960 at the age of 80. She published numerous books including Two Dianas in Somaliland, Two Dianas in Alaska, and Casuals in the Caucasus.