In Her Nature

In Her Nature

How Women Break Boundaries in the Great Outdoors


Brought to you by Penguin.

'Heartfelt, passionate, infuriating and often devastating, this book will inspire you to fight for your right to tread your own path' CAROLINE CRIADO PEREZ, author of Invisible Women

When Rachel loses five family members in five months, grief magnifies other absences. Running across moors and mountains used to help her feel at home in her body and the world, but now she becomes painfully aware of her inability to run without being cat-called or followed by strange men, or to walk alone at night without fear. Her eyes are opened to injustices facing women in sport, from men who push her off paths during races, to male bias in competition regulations, kit and media coverage. The outdoors becomes a place of danger, sharpening her sense of the grief women experience - every day, everywhere - for lack of freedom.

Rachel goes in search of a new family: the foremothers who blazed a trail at the dawn of outdoor sport. She discovers Lizzie Le Blond, a courageous Anglo-Irishwoman who scaled the Alps in woollen skirts, photographed fearless women climbing, skating and tobogganing at breakneck speeds, and founded the Ladies' Alpine Club, defying men who wanted the mountains to themselves. Yet after such groundbreaking progress in the late 1800s, a backlash drove women out of sports and public space.

Are we now living through a similar reversal in women's rights or an era of unprecedented liberty? Telling Lizzie's story alongside her own, Rachel runs her way from bereavement to belonging, in a world that feels hostile to women. On the way she's inspired by the tenacious women, past and present, who insist that breaking boundaries outdoors is, and always has been, in her nature.

©2023 Rachel Hewitt (P)2023 Penguin Audio


  • Fascinating... This is a book of limitless curiosity and eloquent passion
    The Times

About the author

Rachel Hewitt

Rachel Hewitt is a writer and Lecturer in Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her first book, the best-selling MAP OF A NATION: A BIOGRAPHY OF THE ORDNANCE SURVEY (2010), won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction. She was awarded a Gladstone's Library Political Writing Residency for her second book, A REVOLUTION OF FEELING: THE DECADE THAT FORGED THE MODERN MIND (2017). Rachel is Director of the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts and received the prestigious work-in-progress prize, the Eccles British Library Writer's Award, for IN HER NATURE.

She loves trail-running and was 1st Female in the Punk Panther Ultra Series in 2020 and 3rd Female in the Hardmoors Marathon Series in 2019. Her longest run to date was the Punk Panther Dales Way Challenge (c. 83 miles) in August 2021. She lives in Yorkshire.
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