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The Grand Tour

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This digital collection of manuscript, visual and printed works allows students and researchers to explore and 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 from c.1550 to 1850, exploring the Anglo-European response to continental travel 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 across the centuries.

Topics covered include:

  • European political and religious life
  • British diplomacy
  • Material culture, taste and collecting
  • Everyday life
  • Life at court
  • Continental social customs.

A wealth of detail surrounding key destinations such as Paris, Geneva, Venice, Rome, Florence and Naples will excite both urban and architectural historians.

The Grand Tour also offers insight into daily life between 1550 and 1850, highlighting everyday issues such 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, Joseph Spence and many others.
  • The impressions of 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 prominent 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 eighteenth century.

This 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 historians or fine art departments.

See also: Travel Writing, Spectacle and World History