Obituary: Luree Miller

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The Independent Online
Luree Miller, the indefatigable American travel writer, acquired her unusual name from an aunt, born in a remote part of America, whose young sister when sent to register the birth was unable properly to pronounce "Louise".

As an author and journalist, she drew on her experiences accompanying her husband, William J. Miller, who when they married in Alaska in 1946 was running a trucking company but subsequently joined the US Information Agency. In Alaska Luree drove his freight trucks hauling oil along that state's then tricky unpaved roads. When he took her to more civilised parts of the world - they were stationed in London for some years - she wrote about wherever she found herself, never failing to look from a woman's point of view.

Her charming guide book Literary Villages of London (1989) thus recalls with a hint of waspishness the Lord Mayor saying as the Great Fire of London began, "Pish, a woman might pisse it out". Italy gave birth to "a 375-mile ramble" tracing the paths there of Mary Shelley, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Freya Stark. In France she wrote of the Berry and of George Sands' last years there. In India she collaborated with the photographer Marilyn Silverstone on three books for children: Bala, Child of India, Gurkhas and Ghosts and The Black Hat Dances.

It was her long-standing interest in women writers - she held a Master's Degree in Women's Studies from George Washington University - that led her during her lengthy sojourn in London to research pioneering female explorers, eventually publishing On Top of the World: Five Women Explorers in Tibet, which brought back to memory the petticoated mountaineering exploits of Nina Mazuchelli, Annie Taylor, Isabella Bird Bishop, the American Fanny Bullock Workman and the French-born Alexandra David-Neel. She also wrote Late Bloom: new lives for women, a series of interviews which began with the rousing statement "For the first time in history it is great for a woman to be 50".

After her husband's death in 1986 she continued to travel far and wide and to write, chiefly for the Washington Post, about what she saw and heard. In 1993 she fulfilled a dream in visiting and writing about the newly independent states of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan where she had thought she would never be permitted to go, "the forbidden lands on the other side of the Himalayas - the playing fields of the Great Game".

Her memorial is in the Washington where she spent her last years. As president of the Society of Women Geographers she succeeded in securing as permanent premises a house in East Capitol Street. She was, too, in her time in the American capital an ever-generous hostess to visitors from all parts of the world. One of them, a young woman, hearing of her death paid her a heartfelt tribute: "She once bought me," she said, "the greatest roast-beef sandwich I have ever eaten."

Luree Dodson, travel writer: born Seattle 10 February 1926; married 1946 William J. Miller (two sons, one daughter); died Washington DC 6 July 1996.

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