Born in 1868 to a respectable French family, Alexandra David-Neel became an occultist, anarchist and the most remarkable female travel writer of the Twentieth century. David-Neel studied at the Sorbonne at a time when women were not allowed to formally matriculate and converted to Buddhism after viewing a statue of the Buddha in the Guimet Museum. In 1911 she set off, alone, to travel around India for the second time and in 1914 she secluded herself in a cave in the Himalayas for two years, intensively studying the mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as the mystic legends that surrounded Buddhist monks. From 1918 she spent three years in a Buddhist monastery translating texts into French and English. By 1924 she had travelled to the forbidden city of Lhasa and returning to France in 1927 began to write, recording her extraordinary experiences. She died in 1969, 101 years old, still travelling, and an inspiration for a generation that included Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Magic & Mystery in Tibet, like Seven Pillars of Wisdom, attempts to bring ancient wisdom into the modern age. David-Neel records the seemingly magic feats performed by Buddhist monks; telepathy, tumo breathing (the art of generating body heat to keep warm in freezing conditions), the ability to run for days at a time, the ability to defy gravity and the ability to become invisible. As a child David-Neel had wanted to search for the unknown and as an adult she went beyond the Western world, and into areas unexplained by Western science. No other Western writer has ever been so immersed in Tibetan culture and Buddhism, and few other books have entranced readers for seventy years.