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"Miss Vesper Holly has the digestive talents of a goat and the mind of a chess master. She is familiar with half a dozen languages and can swear fluently in all of them. She understands the use of a slide rule but prefers doing calculations in her head. She does not hesistate to risk life and limb--mine as well as her own. No doubt she has other qualities yet undiscovered. I hope not."—The very first lines of The Illyrian Adventure by Lloyd Alexander
The Lady of War crossed with the Gentleman Adventurer. She doesn't just find excitement -- she specifically seeks it out. She thinks nothing of beating up Pirates off the coast of the Trucial States or outwitting remnant tribes of Mayincatec humanitarians.
She is a high-class lady (though not a member of royalty), self sufficient, but not willing to get tied down in marriage (though she may find love in her travels, she will always choose adventure over love -- not even defrosting will help). Sometimes, her Big Fancy House will contain mementos of past adventures. At home she may be a Proper Lady but her activities would frighten her more domestic counterparts.
Most often, she will have no powers of her own (though she may have some small degree of physical prowess), but will surround herself with a band of friends that will help her on her travails. Will almost certainly live to become a Cool Old Lady.
- Mina Murray from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
- The writers tend to forget this, but Captain Britain and his sister Psylocke are the sole surviving heirs of a fabulously wealthy family. While Captain Britain sometimes resents his calling, Psylocke fits this to a 'T', even after her Stripperiffic ninja makeover.
- Lady Johanna Constantine of Hellblazer and The Sandman.
- Emma Bishop of Ruse is described as "A fetching beauty whose spirit craves adventure." Her day job is as assistant to a danger-prone Insufferable Genius Victorian detective (sound familiar?), compensating for his lack of social and linguistics skills. Not mentioned: mysterious time-stopping powers, which she's not supposed to reveal under any circumstances...
- Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean.
- Evelyn "Evie" Carnahan-O'Connell from The Mummy Trilogy becomes one of these.
- Sally Lockhart in the Philip Pullman novels involving her.
- Vesper Holly is Lloyd Alexander's Adventure books, starting with The Illyrian Adventure.
- Marguerite St Just, Lady Blakeney, from The Scarlet Pimpernel.
- Amelia Peabody
- Lady Sharrow of Against a Dark Background is a dark take on this
- Kate De Vris from the Airborn trilogy fits this reasonably well, although she's probably quite a bit younger than most of the other examples.
- Older Than Print: The Damsels Errant found in knightly romances (the lovely mysterious young ladies who guide and advise the knight on his adventures) are an early form of this trope.
- Irene Adler
- Olive Nolan in Tranquilium. She is well-acquainted with many interesting people including Chri Williams, is very good with handguns and has had run-ins with pirates even before the beginning of the novel.
- Jane in Half Magic and Magic by the Lake when she grows up.
- Alexia in The Parasol Protectorate.
- Lady Sylvia in Sorcery and Cecelia has the most amazing widowhood in all Regency England, involving international travel, politics, and spying.
Live Action TV
- Romana (both of her) in Doctor Who.
- Lady Christina de Souza in "Planet of the Dead" combines this with Classy Cat Burglar, as she steals for the risk rather than the reward. The Doctor's parting gift to her is a flying double-decker bus, so that probably won't be a problem anymore.
- River Song can be this or the Classy Cat Burglar, depending at which point on her personal timeline the Doctor catches her.
"Careful? Tried that once. Ever so dull."
- Sarah Jane Smith to a small extent in The Sarah Jane Adventures.
- Dr. Helen Magnus in Sanctuary.
- Ronni Ancona did a lengthy impression of one of these (and read an actual journal entry from one) in the "Dictionary" episode of QI.
- Charley Pollard in the Big Finish Doctor Who audios, who (originating in the actual Edwardian era) frequently describes herself in these exact words.
- Several of the Seven Sisters in the Dungeons & Dragons setting Forgotten Realms. Blessed by the godess of magic to be her chosen servants, they are all powerful mages and almost immortal. Laeral, Dove, and Storm are all well known to have spend a lot of time digging through ancient ruins, but they also have very great reputations and are filthy rich.
- Nalia De'Arnise in Baldur's Gate II is actually a noble, but has decided to actually do something instead of just sitting around at her families castle. Though she's not exactly very good at that before she joins the players group.
- Leliana in Dragon Age first appears to be a kind of nun and later a pious thief who found refuge in a monastary. However, she really is a professional spy and assassin who worked for the high society of her home country. She occasionally complains that even though traveling on the road and fighting the undead horde is fun, she really misses the fine clothes and art of her country and the company of other more sophisticated people.
- Estellise in Tales of Vesperia--even though Flynn constantly tells her she should get back to the castle.
- Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider games.
- Lady Jane and Lady Jayne from the Time Splitters series. They might be the same woman- it's hard to tell with the difference in graphics between games.
- Vesper Grey from Plume.
- Cassidy Cain of Grandmaster of Theft is another cross with Phantom Thief. She travels all of the Empire righting the various wrongs she learns of that she can get to all while being a Spirited Young Lady.
- Eleonora from Greek Ninja. Sasha and Electra somewhat qualify, but adventure found them rather than them seeking it out. Eleonora was quick to hop in on the adventure when the opportunity presented itself.
- Lady Potts from The League of STEAM.
- Goldie of Goldie Gold and Action Jack.
- Gertrude Sanford Legendre (1902-2000) was an American socialite who served as a spy during World War II. She was also a noted explorer, big-game hunter, environmentalist, and owner of Medway plantation in South Carolina. She spent 1923 to 1929 travelling the world as a big-game hunter in South Africa, Canada, and Alaska. Shortly after exploring Abyssinia for the American Museum of Natural History as part of the Sanford-Legendre Abyssinia Expedition, Gertrude Sanford married the expedition's co-leader Sidney J. Legendre on 17 September 1929. During WWII, Legendre worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), essentially as a spy. She was the first American woman captured on the western front in France by the Germans. Legendre was held as a prisoner of war for six months and then escaped into Switzerland. She lived to be 97 and wrote two autobiographies, one in 1948 and another in 1987. She once said, "I don't contemplate life. I live it."
- Karen Blixen. The Real Life one.
- Among her many pursuits Clare Boothe Luce who was an Intrepid Reporter during World War II.
- Jessica Mitford.
- Legendary British traveler and authoress Isabella Bird. A condensed list of the places she visited and wrote about: Australia, Hawaii, Colorado, Japan, Manchuria, Indochina, India, Tibet, Persia, Kurdistan, Turkey, and Morocco. Small wonder she was the first woman inducted into the Royal Geographical Society.