Alexandra David-Néel, the first European woman to see Lhasa

Place and date of birth Paris, 24 October 1868 Claim to fame Undoubtedly most famous for being the first European woman to visit Lhasa in Tibet, Alexandra David-Néel was also a runaway, an anarchist, an opera singer, a Buddhist scholar, a pioneering traveller and a prolific author. Her extraordinary life lasted more than a century. One of her earliest memories was the bloody aftermath of the Paris Commune in 1871; she diedjust a few weeks after Jimi Hendrix played Woodstock, living long enough to see her unconventional personal philosophy – “No commandments! Live your life! Live your instinct!” – enterthecultural bloodstream of the west in the 1960s.