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The Grand Tour

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This digital collection of manuscript, visual and printed works allows students to compare a range of sources on the history of travel for the first time, including many from private or neglected collections.

Taking the phenomenon of the Grand Tour as a starting point, this resource explores the relationship between Britain and Europe between c1550 and c1850, exploring the British response to travel on the Continent for pleasure, business and diplomacy.

The Grand Tour includes the travel writings and works of some of Britain’s greatest artists, writers and thinkers, revealing how interaction with European culture shaped their creative and intellectual sensibilities. It also includes many writings by forgotten or anonymous travellers, including many women, whose daily experiences offer a vivid insight into the experience and practicalities of travel over the centuries.

This collection of manuscript, visual and printed works allows scholars to explore Anglo-European relations during this period from every angle. Topics covered include:

  • European political and religious life
  • British diplomacy
  • Material culture, taste and collecting
  • Everyday life
  • Life at court and social customs on the Continent

There is a wealth of detail about cities such as Paris, Geneva, Venice, Rome, Florence and Naples, that will excite both urban and architectural historians.

The Grand Tour is also wonderful source of information about daily life between 1550 and 1850, highlighting such everyday issues as transportation, money, communications, food and drink, health and sex.

Highlights include:

  • Manuscripts by Sir William Hamilton, Sir Thomas Hoby, Richard Lassels, Sir Philip Sidney, John Evelyn, Charles Burney and Joseph Spence and many others.
  • Much on female travellers, such as Lady Hester Stanhope and Elizabeth Craven.
  • Visual material, with paintings and sketches of Italy and the Continent, as well as portraits of Grand Tourists, by artists including Turner, Batoni, Wilson, Rowlandson and Wright of Derby.
  • A fully searchable version of John Ingamell’s landmark Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701-1800 (Yale University Press, 1997), giving details of over 6,000 individuals who travelled to Italy during the 18th century

The collection has a very broad appeal, and will be of great interest to: social, cultural and political historians interested in the period 1550-1850; literary scholars; and art history or fine art departments.

See also: Travel Writing, Spectacle and World History