Mary (May) French Sheldon

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Mary (May) French Sheldon

1847-1936

American explorer, publisher, and author who was one of the first European women to explore the African interior. Sheldon, born to a wealthy family and educated in Europe, founded a London publishing house before marrying Eli Sheldon, a fellow publisher, in 1876. She left him behind to explore Africa. Sheldon narrated her travels in articles and her book Sultan to Sultan (1892), focusing on the women and children in the territories she visited, a notable difference from her contemporaries. Her writing made significant contributions to both ethnology and geography.