In a week when I'm baffled by the reasoning (if any) behind the idiocy of "planking" or what young women hope to achieve in demanding the right to dress and look like hookers on "slut walks", it was heartening to stumble across the remarkable story of a woman from an earlier generation who deliberately went into a hazardous and remote area of the world populated by headhunters - the traditional kind, not modern-day business ones! - but who was accepted by the people and developed a very close bond with them.
She was not formally trained in anthropology but she was awarded the Lawrence of Arabia Medal for her work among the Nagas. (See here for general information on Nagaland.)
Later, in true Empire spirit, Ursula Graham Bower (Betts) displayed grit, resourcefulness and courage in a little-known arena of the Second World War, leading her Naga people in guerilla warfare against the Japanese.
Annabel Venning gives a good summary of her life in this 2010 article in The Daily Mail. In 1945, Time Magazine wrote about her exploits with the lurid title of "Ursula and the Naked Nagas".
Yet again, this is another amazing woman who deserves to be much better known but still seems to be just another feminine footnote to history.
Maybe that could change, with a new book on Ursula scheduled to be published in 2012.
Index relating to Ursula.