For Brontë, Martineau and Eliot, the literature, art and philosophy they engage with in their reading become the contexts from which they approach their writings on other places. Literature on the foreign place could inspire nineteenth-century women to leave the hearth in search of adventure and escape, as seen in the child Jane Eyre when reading Bewick’s History of British Birds and dreaming of ‘the coast of Norway, studded with isles from its southern extremity’.1 The foreign land represents a place outside the conventional domestic sphere: it is a space that provides alternatives to the dominance of Victorian middle-class culture. Ideas of foreignness are central to the way these women learned to redefine themselves and the roles available to them. Indeed, they can be said to translate and rewrite female identity through the way that they speak of the position of women within other cultural contexts.