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Articles    Bibliothèque de Genève    Fonds Ella Maillart

During her career as a journalist, writer, and lecturer, Ella Maillart wrote many articles and conference texts on her travels, sports and other areas of concern to her. In addition, from a young age, a large number of articles, tributes, and interviews have been dedicated to her. These documents, including her manuscripts, have been deposited in the Fonds Ella Maillart at Bibliothèque de Genève. In this section of the site you will find texts selected from this Fund. ​

Why Travel?

​Invited to share her reflections on traveling, Ella Maillart wrote this text for a

BBC broadcast, December 1948...

Nevertheless, deep down in myself, I knew it was a stopgap activity. I still needed an acceptable answer to the question: Why live? Four times I started for Central Asia – I would not settle down in Europe – but always it was my own discontentment, coloring everything I saw, that I found at the other end of the journey…

On the Road With an Unruly Traveler

Article by Mary Blume, International Herald Tribune, November 1993

Each preferred solo travel. Maillart decided it might be prudent to have Fleming along in case she was imprisoned, Fleming must have sensed that she was a lot more frugal and handy than he was, able to design and make a tent, cook outdoors in freezing winds, sew, walk 14 hours without food and willing to wash his clothes. “It was she, and not I, who did the dirty work,” Fleming wrote later in “News from Tartary”…


Tibetan Jaunt

A chapter by Ella Maillart in the book Explorers’ and Travellers’ Tales, Ed. Odette Tchernine, Jarrolds Publishers Ltd, London, 1958. Other contributors include Col. Sir John Hunt, 

John Brown, Eric Shipton, Brian Fawcett, and Sebastian Snow.

Five long years spent in the tropical heat of South India renewed my longing for the bracing wind of high altitudes. After having suffered day and night from too hot a climate, the white snows of the Himalayas are truly miraculous. Then it is obvious that such immutable mountains are fit for gods…

Ella Maillart

Article by Sarah Anderson, The Independent, 9 April 1997

"To dawdle is my usual fashion as if I had the whole of eternity before me." This sums up Ella Maillart's approach to travel; she liked traveling slowly, absorbing the culture, and she understood the importance of finding the similarities rather than the differences between people…

Nepal: The China Road

Article by Ella Maillart in the Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society, London, June 1966

To fully understand what modern roads cut into the heart of Asia will mean, one should have followed a silent track for weeks at a time, according to age-old customs adapted to man’s walking pace, endlessly climbing up and down, passing from cold to heat, and pitching camp every evening near some running water…


Loving Cats

by Ella Maillart, 1950. Fonds Ella Maillart, Bibliothèque de Genève

Nervous cats with their spine swelling among high grass, warm cats with a deep soft coat, with the glance of a nocturnal bird of prey, with ears as mounted on swivels, with a nonpareil hand made of tender cushions that can feel, contract with pleasure or arm themselves with dangerous, curved krisses:  Astonishing, splendid cats…


An Indo-Swiss Friendship — Ella Maillart and Jawaharlal Nehru

by Bernard Imhasly, published in Friendship in Diversity — Sixty years of Indo-Suisse Relations, Universities Press (India), Hyderabad, 2008. With the author's kind permission. 

It must have been in this context that she came in contact with Jawaharlal Nehru. She needed his help in getting a visa to film in Nepal, so when he made a short stop-over in Geneva in January 1951, she approached him while he had lunch in a private room at the airport. He had heard about her travels and seemed interested to meet the famous traveler…


From Peking to Kashmir

Article by Ella Maillart in The Listener, London, 22 April 1936

In 1930 I got in touch for the first time with the East when I was traveling around the Black Sea and in the wildest valleys of the High Caucasus. I then decided to do everything I could to see more of Asia, and two years later I started out again. I had no official visa on my passport…



With Bonita to Greece

Article by Ella Maillart in The Yachting Monthly, London, published in two parts, July and August 1930. On the sailing adventures of four young women on a cruise from 

Marseille to Athens in the summer of 1925.

No moon; many miles to leeward we now ought to see the light of Cap Sicié. As I bend under the boom to have a look over the hissing waters, out of the darkness high overhead I see one red and one green light, coming at us! Terrified I jump up, seize the electric pocket lamp and show its glare full on the mainsail…




A Woman’s Epic Journey - Mlle Maillart’s Trek from Peking to Kashmir

Article by E.O.Lorimer, John o'London's Weekly, 3 September 1937

Mlle Maillart was shocked to discover that in the wilds of Central Asia, where I expected to find myself amongst men poor but free, I found economic slavery and national antagonism, as strong as anywhere in the present-day world…




Afghanistan’s Rebirth: An Interview with HRH Hashim Khan in 1937

Article by Ella Maillart in the Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society, 

London, Vol. 27, 04-1940

…As I said goodbye to the Premier I ventured another question, of greater delicacy, on the progress of the “question féminine.” “This problem has not been faced yet, Mademoiselle. We are sad and depressed about it. For women are the foundation of all reconstruction. This room in our house, if I can so put it, has not yet been put in order. Please be indulgent about it. Afghans must first learn to imagine another life. Come back in ten years’ time!”…



Ella Maillart - Voyage, Voyage

A portrait by Simon Schreyer, illustrated with many photographs, 

posted on in 2017

…Firstly, she was as free as the breeze. She also was one of the great travelers of the 20th century and lived life to the fullest and on her own terms. Thirdly, she was a pioneer: as a photographer, as a connoisseur of the Far East, as a self-marketing publicist, and as a woman far ahead of her time —  independent, fierce, and astute…


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