Lady of Adventure
"Miss Vesper Holly has the digestive talents of a goat and the mind of a chess master. She is familiar with half a dozen languages and can swear fluently in all of them. She understands the use of a slide rule but prefers doing calculations in her head. She does not hesitate to risk life and limb—mine as well as her own. No doubt she has other qualities yet undiscovered. I hope not."The Lady of War crossed with the Gentleman Adventurer. She doesn't just find excitement — she specifically seeks it out. She thinks nothing of beating up pirates off the coast of the Trucial States or outwitting remnant tribes of Mayincatec humanitarians. She is a high-class lady (though usually not a member of royalty), self sufficient, but not willing to get tied down in marriage (though she may find love in her travels, she will always choose adventure over love — not even defrosting will help). Sometimes, her Big Fancy House will contain mementos of past adventures. At home, she may be a Proper Lady, but as a rule crosses over into Spirited Young Lady; quite frankly, her activities would frighten her more domestic counterparts. Most often, she will have no powers of her own to speak of (though she may have some small degree of physical prowess), but will surround herself with a band of friends that will help her on her travails. Will almost certainly live to become a Cool Old Lady. Usually filled to the brim with British Stuffiness and almost always wears Gorgeous Period Dress (while still fitting for the high seas and hot sun). Often found in The Edwardian Era. Compare and contrast Lady of War. Often wears a ladylike Adventurer Outfit.
— The very first lines of The Illyrian Adventure by Lloyd Alexander
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- Secret of Cerulean Sand: After hearing the news that her brother, George, was allegedly shot for treason while on a desert expedition, Jane Buxton decides to learn the truth of what happened for herself. So she sets off on a grand adventure across the globe, though her butler Chambellin insists on going with her. She's only 14, after all.
- Mina Murray from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
- The writers tend to forget this, but Captain Britain and his sister Psylocke are members of a fabulously wealthy family. While Captain Britain sometimes resents his calling, Psylocke fits this to a 'T', even after her Stripperiffic ninja makeover.
- Lady Johanna Constantine of Hellblazer and The Sandman.
- Emma Bishop of Ruse is described as "A fetching beauty whose spirit craves adventure." Her day job is as assistant to a danger-prone Insufferable Genius Victorian detective (sound familiar?), compensating for his lack of social and linguistics skills. Not mentioned: mysterious time-stopping powers, which she's not supposed to reveal under any circumstances...
- Kit Bennett, PHD., alias Kathy Watson in Children of Time: a Badass Bookworm from a respectable family, born in Victorian London. By chance (we think), she's also a Time Lady. She is a physicist, she is a century old by World War II, and she's been all over Time and Space with the Doctor. (Yes, she's a River Song Expy.)
- Evelyn "Evie" Carnahan-O'Connell from The Mummy Trilogy becomes one of these.
- Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean.
- Lara Croft in the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider films, crossed with a lot of Action Girl. She even has the Big Fancy House!
- In Cracks, Miss G. pretends to be this to impress her students.
- Adèle Blanc-Sec from The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, as well as the comics upon which the film is based.
- Sally Lockhart in the Philip Pullman novels involving her.
- Vesper Holly in Lloyd Alexander's Adventure books, starting with The Illyrian Adventure.
- Marguerite St Just, Lady Blakeney, from The Scarlet Pimpernel.
- Amelia Peabody
- Lady Sharrow of Against a Dark Background is a dark take on this.
- Kate De Vris from the Airborn trilogy fits this reasonably well, although she's probably quite a bit younger than most of the other examples.
- Older Than Print: The Damsels Errant found in knightly romances (the lovely mysterious young ladies who guide and advise the knight on his adventures) are an early form of this trope.
- Irene Adler
- Olive Nolan in Tranquilium. She is well-acquainted with many interesting people including Chri Williams, is very good with handguns and has had run-ins with pirates even before the beginning of the novel.
- Jane in Edward Eager's Half Magic and Magic by the Lake, when she grows up.
- Alexia in The Parasol Protectorate.
- Lady Sylvia in Sorcery & Cecelia has the most amazing widowhood in all Regency England, involving international travel, politics, and spying.
- Europe from the Monster Blood Tattoo series combines this trope, Lady of War, and Lady of Black Magic to create a refined, dignified monster hunter with cool clothes and an electric presence.
- Evadne Stephens from The Extraordinaires.
- In Geoph Essex's Jackrabbit Messiah, old Maggie Calloway is obviously a Lady Adventurer from an earlier time, with her Adventurer Outfit and unsubtle similarity to classic fiery Katharine Hepburn characters.
Live Action TV
- Romana (both of her) in Doctor Who.
- Lady Christina de Souza in "Planet of the Dead" combines this with Classy Cat-Burglar, as she steals for the risk rather than the reward. The Doctor's parting gift to her is a flying double-decker bus, so that probably won't be a problem anymore.
- River Song can be this or the Classy Cat-Burglar, depending at which point on her personal timeline the Doctor catches her.
"Careful? Tried that once. Ever so dull."
- Ronni Ancona did a lengthy impression of one of these (and read an actual journal entry from one) in the "Dictionary" episode of QI.
- Dr. Helen Magnus in Sanctuary.
- Sarah Jane Smith to a small extent in The Sarah Jane Adventures.
- The female H.G. Wells in Warehouse 13.
- Charley Pollard in the Big Finish Doctor Who audios, who (originating in the actual Edwardian era) frequently describes herself in these exact words.
- Lady Alexandra Faversham, mother of The Brothers Faversham and "The British Empire's greatest, sexiest and most pregnant spy". We never actually see much of her own adventures as she's always the Hero of Another Story, but her sons are invariably born slap-bang in the middle of them.
- Several of the Seven Sisters in the Dungeons & Dragons setting Forgotten Realms. Blessed by the goddess of magic to be her chosen servants, they are all powerful mages and almost immortal. Laeral, Dove, and Storm are all well known to have spend a lot of time digging through ancient ruins, but they also have very great reputations and are filthy rich.
- Space 1889 The main book makes this a career for female player characters. Since this is in Victorian times she is theoretically the loyal companion or servant of a male adventurer. This is just social camouflage, though.
- Despite it being the 1930s in Rocket Age lady adventurers are not uncommon. Exposure to alien cultures and a massive societal shift can cause that. The US Rocket Rangers even allows women into their ranks, though they are the only branch of the armed forces to do so.
- Nalia De'Arnise in Baldur's Gate II is actually a noble, but has decided to actually do something instead of just sitting around at her families castle. Though she's not exactly very good at that before she joins the players group.
- Leliana in Dragon Age: Origins first appears to be a kind of nun and later a pious thief who found refuge in a monastery. However, she really is a professional spy and assassin who worked for the high society of her home country. She occasionally complains that even though traveling on the road and fighting the undead horde is fun, she really misses the fine clothes and art of her country and the company of other more sophisticated people.
- Estellise in Tales of Vesperia—even though Flynn constantly tells her she should get back to the castle.
- Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider games.
- Lady Jane and Lady Jayne from the TimeSplitters series. They might be the same woman- it's hard to tell with the difference in graphics between games.
- Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! has Lady Aurelia Hammerlock, an Egomaniac Hunter who comes from a wealthy family of uppercrust British sterotypes who travels the galaxy seeking dangerous game to hunt in order to alleviate the boredom that comes with being an exorbitantly wealthy heiress. As far as she's concerned, vault hunting on Elpis is simply a safari that gives her the chance to shoot lots of things.
- Vesper Grey from Plume.
- Eleonora from Greek Ninja. Sasha and Electra somewhat qualify, but adventure found them rather than them seeking it out. Eleonora was quick to hop in on the adventure when the opportunity presented itself.
- Lady Potts from The League of S.T.E.A.M..
- Jade English of Homestuck: Adoptive granddaughter of Betty Crocker and Colonel Sassacre, something of a Gadgeteer Genius, and a counterrevolutionary who maintains a secret base on a tropical island filled with fantastic beasts.
- Goldie of Goldie Gold and Action Jack.
- Gertrude Sanford Legendre (1902-2000) was an American socialite who served as a spy during World War II. She was also a noted explorer, big-game hunter, environmentalist, and owner of Medway plantation in South Carolina. She spent 1923 to 1929 travelling the world as a big-game hunter in South Africa, Canada, and Alaska. Shortly after exploring Abyssinia for the American Museum of Natural History as part of the Sanford-Legendre Abyssinia Expedition, Gertrude Sanford married the expedition's co-leader Sidney J. Legendre on 17 September 1929. During WWII, Legendre worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), essentially as a spy. She was the first American woman captured on the western front in France by the Germans. Legendre was held as a prisoner of war for six months and then escaped into Switzerland. She lived to be 97 and wrote two autobiographies, one in 1948 and another in 1987. She once said, "I don't contemplate life. I live it."
- Karen Blixen. The Real Life one.
- Among her many pursuits Clare Boothe Luce who was an Intrepid Reporter during World War II.
- Jessica Mitford, who is stated by J. K. Rowling to be one of her greatest inspirations.
- Legendary British traveler and authoress Isabella Bird. A condensed list of the places she visited and wrote about: Australia, Hawaii, Colorado, Japan, Manchuria, Indochina, India, Tibet, Persia, Kurdistan, Turkey, and Morocco. Small wonder she was the first woman inducted into the Royal Geographical Society.
- Lady Jane Digby, aristocratic beauty and adventurer, she ditched her husband the Earl of Ellenborough to elope with her lover, the Austrian statesman Felix zu Schwarzenberg. Felix abandoned her in Paris, but Jane soon found a lover of means — King Ludwig I of Bavaria. She wed another nobleman, Baron Karl von Venningen, and had a son with him, only to fall madly in love with Spyridon Theotokis. Her husband challenged Spyridon to a duel; although Karl wounded her lover, he agreed to release Jane from her marriage and astonishingly enough continued to be her friend. Her marriage to Spyridon survived her affair with King Otto I of Greece, but after their only son died tragically, he and Jane divorced. She took up with an Albanian brigand named Hristodoulos Hadzipetros, fighting alongside his men and living in caves, only to walk out on him after catching him with another woman. At forty-six, Jane Digby traveled to Damascus and enchanted Sheik Abdul Medjuel el Mezrab, twenty years her junior. She refused to marry him unless he sent his other wives back to their fathers, which he did. They were happily married for the rest of her life. Jane Digby died at 74, after a lifetime of passion and adventure.
- Gertrude Bell (1868 – 1926), was a Real Life Adventure Archaeologist who served as a spy and diplomat in the Middle East during World War I, was a mentor to the famous Lawrence of Arabia, and played a major role in reshaping the Middle East after the fall of the Ottoman Empire following the war. She founded the Iraqi Archaeological Museum (which was sadly extensively looted during the 2003 invasion) and is still remembered with fondness among the people of the region, no small accomplishment for both a foreigner and a woman.
- Lady Florence Baker, wife of explorer Samuel Baker. When Baker first met her she was a white slave destined for the harem of an Ottoman noble. Baker fell in love with her, and first tried to purchase her freedom. When that failed he bribed the guards and ran away with her. Then they fell in love and married and she followed him on his expeditions into the most unknown and dangerous parts of Africa. This story is so melodramatic few writers today would use but it really did happen.
- Nellie Bly, one of the first investigative reporters in the world and almost certainly the first female investigative reporter. Her adventures included a race to travel around the world in fewer than 80 days; she sent telegrams to her publisher from every country she visited as a means of tracking her progress. She also once faked insanity in order to be admitted to an asylum and write about conditions on the inside, which prompted severe changes to the inhumane system for treating the mentally ill.
- Ginny Fiennes (AKA Lady Virginia Frances Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes), late wife of explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and, amongst other achievements, the first woman to receive the Polar Medal.