Saturday, April 21, 2007

Annie Londonderry

Who was Annie Londonderry, you ask? Well, in brief, she rode a cycle around the world in 1894/1895, becoming the first woman to do so (the trick had been done ten years earlier by a fellow). But that doesn't really convey what she accomplihed. The physical challenge along was enormous. She was five foot even and a hundred pounds, with little cycling experience (she claimed none). Yet she rode a 21 pound, single speed cycle around the world on muddy roads--when there were roads at all. She actually started on a 42 lb cycle, but like her "lady's riding outfit", that was eschewed by the time she got out of the States.

At the start:

Towards the end (looks as if she's lost a stone or so :P)

But truly, consider her times. Mind you, I think there are many things about the Victorian era that I mourn the passing of. But inequality of the sexes (NOT the same thing as being identical) is not one of them. Annie was, among other things, Jewish (her real name was Annie Cohen Kopchovsky) and female in a time where neither attribute was likely to open doors to adventure. But adventure she did! When one reads her story (in full at, one cannot help but think of the reaction of young women of the time--for her exploits were widely chronicled (Annie had a flair for publicity, and would later become an investigative reporter). They must have thought "If she can do THAT, why, what can I accomplish?".

And over a hundred years later, neo-Victorian that I am, I ask myself that whenever I see obstacles. And also, of course, every time I assail a hill on cycle!

Well, today, I put up the Annie Londonderry exhibit in New Babbage at the Undershaw Restoration Society. I had put it up on Thursday, but autoreturn was still on the parcel...whoops! For once, the Second Life coalesce feature worked to my advantage--that's the function whereby all your items that got returned are grouped under one solitary item's name. So, say one sets up an entire dance with 20 odd dance sets at 375L each. They are autoreturned, and together they all show up in your folder under the explanatory heading of "object". Ask me how I know these things....

But this time, it worked out, as I rezzed but one picture and half the exhibit appeared, all aligned with that one picture as they were when autoreturned. Speaking of pictures, one is worth a thousand words....

And here is the Undershaw Restoration Society, and the exhibit up. The big book like thing is, amazingly enough, a book (and free to copy, should you show up). It is a slightly abridged version of Annie's story, as told by her great grand nephew, Peter Zheutlin. It can be read in world by clicking on it and turning the pages (works very well if attached to your HUD point. Click attach to do that).


Gillian said...

Hello. I am a filmmaker who is making a documentary film about Annie "Londonderry" Kopchovksy called The New Woman. We have a website ( and we're working closely with Peter Zheutlin, Annie's biographer. Just wanted to introduce msyelf and compliment you on your interesting exhibit.


Intolerable said...

Miss Tombola - Viewed the exhibit earlier today, which happens to right next door to me in Babbage and thought it was wonderful! Thank you!

Mr. I. Ginsburg

Virrginia Tombola said...

Hello Gillian! I'm very honoured that you popped by my silly blog, and VERY much looking forward to your upcoming movie. I have your movie's site up as a link now :)

I really enjoyed reading about how Meghan (the woman portraying Annie) struggled with the cycle and the clothing, despite being a strong cyclist herself. I must say, it is a lot easier in a virtual reality!

I should mention that the majority of the archival photographs in the Second Life exhibit are from Mr. Zheutlin's website, used with his generous permission.


Mr. Ginsberg, I am so glad you liked the exhibit. I really appreciate the way everyone in Babbage turned out, and made it a great opening day.