The Grand Tour

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.

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.

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.

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.

Key Data

Period Covered

  • 1550-1850


  • Opportunity to compare a range of sources on the history of travel for the first time, including many from private or neglected collections
  • Daily life in the eighteenth century, including everyday issues as transportation, money, communications, food and drink, health and sex
  • European political and religious life, British diplomacy; life at court, and social customs on the Continent, and is an invaluable resource for the study of Europe’s urban spaces
  • A wealth of detail about cities such as Paris, Rome, Florence and Geneva, including written accounts and visual representations of street life, architecture and urban planning
  • Manuscripts of many prominent figures, including Sir William Hamilton, Sir Thomas Hoby, Richard Lassels, Sir Philip Sidney, John Evelyn, Charles Burney and Joseph Spence are featured
  • Accounts from female travellers, including Lady Hester Stanhope and Elizabeth Craven
  • Rare printed sources, including travel accounts, guide books, histories and accounts of religious and political life. Authors include Henry Swinburne, Mariana Starke, J. Fenimore Cooper, Tobias Smollett and Henry Matthews
  • Paintings and sketches of Italy and the Continent, as well as portraits of Grand Tourists, by artists including: JMW Turner, Pompeo Batoni, Richard Wilson, William Pars, Thomas Rowlandson and Joseph Wright of Derby

Source Archives

  • Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University
  • Birmingham Art Gallery
  • British Library
  • Buckinghamshire Archives
  • Cornwall Record Office
  • Devon Record Office
  • Durham University Library
  • Northumberland County Archive
  • Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
  • Private Library of Edward Chaney
  • Surrey History Centre
  • West Yorkshire Archives
  • Yale Center for British Art

Material Types

  • Letters
  • Diaries and journals
  • Account books
  • Printed guidebooks
  • Published travel writing
  • Paintings and sketches
  • Architectural drawings
  • Maps

Editorial Board

  • Jeremy Black, University of Exeter
  • Melissa Calaresu, University of Cambridge
  • Edward Chaney, Southampton Solent University
  • Rosemary Sweet, University of Leicester
  • Emma Winter, Columbia University


  • European political and religious life
  • British diplomacy
  • Material culture, taste and collecting
  • Everyday life
  • Life at court
  • The urban environment and architecture of cities such as Paris, Geneva, Venice, Rome, Florence and Naples
  • Transportation
  • Money
  • Communications
  • Food and drink
  • Health and sex

Key Features

  • A searchable, full-text version of John Ingamell’s landmark Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701-1800. This remarkable work identifies over 6000 individual Grand Tourists, providing biographies and details of their tours. It also functions as a database of Grand Tour manuscripts not included in the resource.
  • A selection of digitised source material from the Brinsley Ford Archive at the Paul Mellon Centre, London. This incomparable research collection contains the notes, clippings and research gathered by Sir Brinsley Ford, from which John Ingamells compiled the Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701-1800.
  • An indexed collection of hundreds of quality, modern photographs of Italy, providing a detailed visual source of all the historical sites, palaces and streets visited by tourists, to accompany the written accounts.
  • Exclusive essays by leading scholars from Art History, History, and Urban Studies


The Grand Tour represents a valuable and, what will surely prove to be a much-utilized, digital resource on this popular subject.

The Grand Tour was 'a phenomenon which shaped the creative and intellectual sensibilities of some of the eighteenth century's greatest artists, writers and thinkers'. So reads the opening paragraph ......

Recommended for comprehensive electronic collections, as well as for college and university libraries serving European historians

The Grand Tour is a collection of manuscripts, visuals, and printed works, including account books, architectural drawings, diaries, guidebooks, journals, letters, maps, paintings, and sketches detailing English men and women ......

Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above

The Grand Tour is an electronic gateway to a wide selection of literature, art, and in particular archival material useful in gaining a greater understanding of the grand tour--a ......