The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Annie Londonderry

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Annie Londonderry until we are able to commission a full entry.

Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, known as Annie Londonderry, in the final incarnation of her bicycle riding costume. She was the first woman to ride a bicycle around the world in 1856.
Source: Annie Londonderry--the first woman to bicycle around the world, by Peter Zheutlin. © Peter Zheutlin.

A symbol of women’s growing independence at the turn of the twentieth century, Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky became the first woman cyclist to circle the globe in 1895. In 1894, two Boston gentlemen bet on whether a woman could travel the world by bicycle, a goal first accomplished by a man in 1885. Kopchovsky was chosen, and according to the bet, had to finish her journey in fifteen months, start out penniless and earn $5,000 plus expenses along the way. To that end, she hung a sign on her bike advertising the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Company and became Annie Londonderry. While she sailed for large portions of her journey, she made it back to Boston in just under fifteen months, having travelled as a lone cyclist with a pearl revolver for protection for long stretches. She collected a $10,000 prize, returned to her husband and three young children, and moved to New York, where she became a journalist for the New York World, starting her career with an account of her journey. While she soon retired to raise her family, Kopchovsky’s achievement gave many women the confidence to explore their world unchaperoned for the first time as independent cyclists.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Annie Londonderry." (Viewed on October 4, 2023) <>.


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