In his Short History of English Literature, Saintsbury finds the flying girl Youwarkee one of the most charming heroines of the eighteenth-century novel. Half woman and half bird, or – as Browning was to write of his dead wife, Elizabeth Barrett – half angel and half bird, she can open her arms and make wings of them, and a silky down covers her body. She lives on an island lost in Antarctic seas and was discovered there by Peter Wilkins, a shipwrecked sailor, who marries her. Youwarkee is a gawry (or flying woman) and belongs to a race of flying people known as glumms. Wilkins converts them to Christianity and, after the death of his wife, succeeds in making his way back to England.
The story of this strange love affair may be read in the novel Peter Wilkins (1751) by Robert Paltock.
Illustrator: Zura Mchedlishvili
Via: Penguin Books