About KM

NB: This site is under reconstruction! I am working on a book about KM’s life and her interactions with Isabel Hapgood (see below) and will update this blog with the latest research when that is finished. Accordingly much of the information originally posted here may be due for an update / currently inaccessible. You should be able to view KM’s timeline, the bibliography, and some background on our shared stories. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to know in the meantime, or click the Follow link on the right to keep in touch. 

Kate Marsden was a Victorian nurse who, in 1891, trekked thousands of miles across Russia to help Siberian leprosy sufferers.

On her return, she became one of the first women to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and for a while was feted for her adventures and able to raise significant funds to aid the plight of the lepers.

But people took against her; the veracity of her journey was called into disrepute, as well as her management of the funds she was raising, and as a result of a smear campaign led by American translator Isabel Hapgood, KM was unable to ever really restore her reputation or succeed at any other philanthropic projects she initiated. She died in 1931 and was buried in an unmarked grave.

I have been interested in KM, as my namesake, for the last 30 years, after being given a copy of her travel account On Sledge and Horseback to Outcast Siberian Lepers, and am now writing a fictionalised account of her life. This blog is a working resource containing a lot of my research, although most posts may currently be inaccessible to general browsers while I consolidate and refine my references. Do get in touch through the comments button if you have any questions.


Kate Marsden (the 21st century one)
January 2016

“Highly Commended” (2016) & “Commended” (2017) Bradt Travel Guides New Travel Writer of the Year

PS: In April 2014, I ran the London Marathon for the charity Lepra, in recognition of the work Kate Marsden (the first) did over 100 years ago. You can read more about Lepra’s continued fight against leprosy, and sponsor me retroactively, here (it’s never too late).



  1. Jacki Hill-Murphy

    Hello! It is lovely to see your website. I leave on 21st July to recreate Kate Marsden’s journey across Siberia and then I will be returning in winter to deliver the ‘Kate Marsden Ambulance’ to the hospital in Vilyuisk. It has been a massive undertaking. http://www.pinkgingerfilms.com
    Do stay in touch and perhaps you would like to link this site to my journey where you can follow progress and be there to wave us off in London. Jacki

    • Kate

      Hi Jacki! That’s such exciting news and thanks so much for getting in touch, will be really interested to hear how you get on. VKM’s blog has been a bit neglected since I originally set the framework up, but was planning to refocus on it this year – shall now do so with renewed vigour. Good luck and god speed!

      • Jacki Hill-Murphy

        Is your name actually Kate Marsden? I was hoping to reach out to anyone with this name and get them involved. can you come to the departure in London or Bristol and do you know any more Kate Marsdens? J

    • Kate

      Hi Jarm, lovely to hear from you. Yes, I am stilllllll working on her story as well as juggling lots of other stuff, so not quite sure when (but not if) it’ll ever come to fruition. Keep in touch! Kate.

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