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36. Travel Writing

James A. Butler

Subject Literature » Romanticism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631198529.1999.00038.x


It was, wrote Dorothy Wordsworth in 1823, a ‘writing and publishing (especially tour -writing and War-publishing) age’. Indeed, many—perhaps most—Romantic writers wrote or read travel literature. To give only a few examples from the hundreds of such works: William Wordsworth early in his career wrote his Descriptive Sketches, in Verse, taken during a pedestrian Tour in the Italian, Grison, Swiss, and Savoyard Alps and several decades later produced a Lake District guidebook; Mary Wollstonecraft's volume of Letters written during a short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark accompanied her 16-year-old daughter on her elopement journey with Percy Bysshe Shelley (records of that 1814 lovers’ trip in turn contributed to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's first published book); William Blake engraved some of the shocking illustrations for John Stedman's Narrative of a five years’ Expedition against the revolted Negroes of Surinam (1796); future Poet Laureate Robert Southey concocted a fake travel journal ( Letters from England: by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella, translated from the Spanish : 1807) to allow him more freedom to indict English bigotry and parochialism. According to the Bristol Library records from 1773–84, the borrowers’ top two choices were books of travel literature; the word ‘tourist’ itself first dates from the end of the eighteenth century. Travel I must, or ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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