From Writer's Almanac:
October 24 is the birthday of writer and explorer Alexandra David-Néel, born in Saint-Mandé, France, in 1868. She had an unhappy childhood, the only child of bitter parents who fought all the time. She tried running away over and over, starting when she was two years old. As a teenager, she traveled by herself through European countries, including a bike trip across Spain. When she was 21, she inherited money from her parents, and she used it all to go to Sri Lanka.
She became fluent in Tibetan, met the Dalai Lama, practiced meditation and yoga, and trekked through the Himalayas.
And she wrote about it all. Her most famous book is Magic and Mystery in Tibet (1929), in which she wrote: "Then it was springtime in the cloudy Himalayas. Nine hundred feet below my cave rhododendrons blossomed. I climbed barren mountain-tops. Long tramps led me to desolate valleys studded with translucent lakes ... Solitude, solitude! ... Mind and senses develop their sensibility in this contemplative life made up of continual observations and reflections. Does one become a visionary or, rather, is it not that one has been blind until then?"
She died in 1969, at the age of 101, a few months after renewing her passport.