Having made a ground-breaking female journey with her brother from Baku in Russia, through Baluchistan and Arabistan, and on to Tehran at the turn-of-the-century, British journalist Ella Sykes is mainly remembered for her memoir Through Persia on a Side-Saddle (London: John MacQueen, 1901) and a follow-up, Persia and its People (London: Methuen, 1910). Her first book contains: Contents: Preface; Introduction; The Journey to the Capital of Persia; Tehran; From the Capital to Fatima's Shrine at Koom; As Far as Kashan; To the Goal of our Journey via Yezd; Housekeeping at Kerman; Kerman and its Environs; Olla Podrida; Four Visitors and a Maid; Our Stay in the Hills; Our Social Circle at Kerman; Arababad and Sagotch, Persian Ladies and some Persian Customs; Last Months at Kerman and the Start to Baluchistan; Through the Desert to Bampur and Pahra; To Kuhak and the Frontier Commission; With the Perso-Baluch Boundary Commission; To Quetta with the British Commission; Up the Persian Gulf to Busreh; The Karun River and Ahwaz; From Busreh to Tehran Again; Tehran Revisited, and the Journey Home to England. Illustrations: Persian Lady in Indoor Costume; Persian Women in Outdoor Dress; Courtyard of the Mosque of Mahun; The Luncheon Camel; Kuhak, Where the Frontier Commission Met; Kaianian Malek Tomes; Mirza Riza, the Assassin of the Late Shah; The Children of H.H. the Farman Farma.

Much scarcer is her book for female immigrants planning on working in Western Canada, A Home Help in Canada (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1912). It's a narrative of her six months of research, under the auspices of the Colonial Intelligence League for Educated Women, during which she was employed as a domestic helper. Hers was a culturally chauvinistic perspective before, during and after her visit to Canada. She dutifully wrote, "The influx of Americans and foreigners is so great, that every British woman, worthy of the name, who settles in the Dominion is, as it were, a standard of Empire, and if as is probable, she marries, she will train her children to love the Union Jack." Sykes saw Canada as the Land of Youth and Optimism, "but it is also in very truth the Land of Work, and English people sometimes are apt to lose sight of this side of the shield."

Again travelling with her brother Percy, Sykes later co-wrote Through Deserts and Oases Of Central Asia (London: Macmillan, 1920). She died in 1939.


Through Persia on a Side-Saddle (London: John MacQueen, 1901)

Persia and its People (London: Methuen, 1910)

A Home Help in Canada (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1912)

Through Deserts and Oases Of Central Asia (London: Macmillan, 1920). by Sykes, Ella Constance & Percy Molesworth Sykes.

[BCBW 2008]