She was an nineteenth-century English explorer, writer, and a natural historian. She was born in Borough bridge in 1831 and grew up in Tattenhall, Cheshire. As her father Edward was a Church of England minister, the family moved several times across Britain as he received different parish postings, most notably in 1848 when he was replaced as vicar of St. Thomas' when his parishioners objected to the style of his ministry. She was a sickly child and spent her entire life struggling with various diseases. She mentions her health troubles at least six different times in letters to her sister, sent during her six-month stay in Hawaii. Her real desire was to travel. In 1854, Bird's father gave her £100 and she went to visit relatives in America. She was allowed to stay until her money ran out. She detailed the journey anonymously in her first book The Englishwoman in America, published in 1856. The following year, she went to Canada and then toured Scotland. Many of her works are compiled from letters she wrote home to her sister in Scotland. Bird finally left Britain in 1872, going first to Australia, which she disliked, and then to Hawaii (known in Europe as the Sandwich Islands), her love for which prompted her second book (published three years later). While there she climbed Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. She then moved on to Colorado, then the newest member of the United States, where she had heard the air was excellent for the infirm. At home, Bird again found herself pursued, this time by John Bishop, an Edinburgh doctor in his thirties. Predictably ill, she went traveling again, this time to Asia: Japan, China, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia. Yet when her sister died of typhoid in 1880, Isabella was heartbroken and finally accepted Bishop's marriage proposal. Her health took a severe turn for the worse but recovered by Bishop's own death in 1886. Arriving on the subcontinent in February 1889, Bird visited missions in India, visited Ladakh on the borders of Tibet, and then traveled in Persia, Kurdistan and Turkey. The following year she joined a group of British soldiers travelling between Baghdad and Tehran. She remained with the unit's commanding officer during his survey work in the region, armed with her revolver and a medicine chest supplied – in possibly an early example of corporate sponsorship – by Henry Wellcome's company in London.
IMO THE REV EDWARD BIRD BA, Rector of Wyton, Huntingdonshire, who died at Wyton on 14 May 1858 aged 63. And of DORA LAWSON, his wife, who died in Edinburgh on 14 August 1866, aged 63. And of HENRIETTA AMELIA, their youngest daughter who died at Tobermory, on 5 June 1880, aged 45. And of JOHN BISHOP MD FRCSE, their son-in-law who died at Cannes, on 6 March 1886 aged 44.
Also of ISABELLA LUCY, FRCS, FRSCS, Hon Member of the Oriental Society of Pekin, their eldest daughter, wife of the above John Bishop, who after arduous journeyings in many lands died in Edinburgh on 7 October 1904, aged 72.
Henrietta Amelia Bird