A Writer’s Travel Guide: Encounters with Japan and the Kingdom of Ryukyu

Before reading this post, please note that The Writer’s Travel Guide does not recommend travelling to Japan in the long 18th century. In all likelihood, you will not be allowed to enter the country. If you try anyway, you are committing a capital offence.
Having read this, you are still determined to give it a try? – excellent! You are of one mind with three British captains who each had an individual adventure with an island kingdom barring itself from foreign influences. And you might also find out that not all encounters have to be riddled with conflicts. Continue reading

The Unconventional Miss Starke: Writer and Adventuress

One of the most proficient travel writers of the late 18th century was – a woman: Mariana Starke. Her travel guides were an essential companion for British travellers to the Continent.
Being successful didn’t make life easy for Mariana. Female writing for the public was frowned upon. From her years as budding authoress to the latest edition of her successful travel guide, she always had to deal with criticism from more conventional members of society. Unperturbed by this, she led an unusual life for a woman of her time. Continue reading

Becoming Alexander von Humboldt – A Budding Explorer in Georgian England

Alexander von Humboldt in 1784 (left)
and in 1806 (right).

Alexander von Humboldt (1769 – 1859) was the celebrated explorer of his generation. It is little known that he started his scientific career with a trip to England in 1790. He was 20 years old, and travelled with the famous Georg Forster, author of “A Voyage Round the World”, member of the Royal Society and of Captain James Cook’s crew on the second voyage (1772-1775).
The experienced explorer and the young men had met in 1789 in Mainz / Germany. Alexander was fascinated by the lively and powerful Forster, his impressive career and exiting plans. He dedicated his first scientific thesis about mineralogical observations on basalts to Forster.
It is no surprise that Alexander was delighted when Forster, recognizing the budding talent, asked the young man to join him on his next trip in 1790. Destination: England.
Find out how the journey to England influenced the life of Alexander von Humboldt.

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Travelling with Turner: Exploring the Swiss Alps in 1802

JMW Turner, © The Tate Gallery

Around the turn of the 19th century, Joseph Mallord William Turner was a young, restless painter, always on the lookout for inspiration for his art. After having toured many parts of Britain, he planned to visit the Continent. He was especially interested in the awe-inspiring, romantic Swiss Alps – considered by many a rocky, dangerous wasteland. Thus, aged about 27, and still being an unknown artist, he decided to follow his plans through. Let’s accompany him on his first ever trip abroad.

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Travelling in the 18th century? Don’t forget your passport!

The concept of the passport is thousands of years old. King Henry V of England is credited with having invented what can be considered the first passport in the modern sense. These letters of “safe conduct” were first written in Latin and English. In 1772, the government decided to use French, the international language of high finance and diplomacy. This didn’t change until 1858. Thus, Britain’s passports were issued in French even when Britain fought Napoleon.

What did the document look like?

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Writer’s Travel Guide: The British Tourist and Napoleonic Milan

In this post:

  • How to get to Milan in the 18th century
  • Where to stay
  • Dangers and annoyances
  • Napoleonic sight-seeing in Milan

Travelling to Italy had always strongly appealed to the British aristocracy. Milan had been a favourite since Maria Theresia, sovereign of the Holy Roman Empire, remodelled the city in the second half of the 18th century: Milan featured lovely public gardens, and the fabulous opera house La Scala. But Alas!, visiting this splendid city came to a halt for British travellers from 1796 to 1814, when Napoleon had occupied Milan and most parts of Northern Italy. It was only after the Battle of Waterloo that British tourists could visit Milan again. One of the most famous tourists was Lord Byron, who spent two weeks in Milan in October 1816.

Lord Byron had always been an admirer of Napoleon. In Milan, he was lucky to get acquainted with the French essayist Stendhal (Henri Beyle by real name). Stendal had worked under Napoleon’s Secretary of State. Byron and Stendal met almost every evening for several weeks, and Byron questioned Stendal about his hero.

Some British tourists took a special interest in seeing the places of Napoleon’s power. Thus, locations connected with Napoleon became a curiosity for tourists. I have selected some of them for you in this post. Find out more about Napoleonic Milan: Continue reading

Writer’s Travel Guide: The British and the Grand Tour to the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily (Part 2)

05 palaceFind in this travel guide for the 18th century:

  • The Antiquities Trail:
    – Herculaneum and Pompeii
    – Paestum
  • Practical Tips for Travellers
    – Where to Stay
    – Specialities
  • Danger & Annoyances
  • Money & Measurements

The Kingdom of Naples and Sicily became a popular destination for British tourists with the discovery and excavation of ancient ruins in the mid 18th century. The art found at Herculaneum and Pompeii sparked the European Neo-classicism: It was the motifs from these ancient ruins that featured on stylish furnishings in England.
Part 2 01 EinstiegArchitects, artists and their rich patrons braved the inconveniences of a long journey to see the celebrated ruins themselves.

In this part of ‘Writer’s Travel Guide: The British and the Grand Tour to the Kingdom of Naples’ we discover the famous ancient sites as a travel destination for Grand Tourists of the Romantic Age. Continue reading

Writer’s Travel Guide: The British and the Grand Tour to the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily (Part 1)

02 AntiquityFind in this travel guide for the 18th century:

  • The Destination: Facts & Figures
  • Getting There & Around
  • Things to See & Do in Naples
    – Neapolitan Dolce Vita
    – Balls, Suppers and Assemblies
    – Culture & Entertainment
  • Nature & Activities
    – Climbing Mount Vesuvius
    – Watersports

For British travellers, Italy was an essential destiny of the Grand Tour. However, most travellers didn’t go farther than Rome. Only the adventurous or scholarly continued to the South, to ‘The Kingdom of Naples and Sicily’. This was to change with the discovery and excavation of the ruins of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Paestum in the mid 18th century.

01 South ItalyEager to see the sites of Antiquity themselves, architects, artists and their rich patrons ventured down the long road to Naples, braving brigands, mosquitoes and heat.

  • How did they travel?
  • What would they see and do in 18th-century Naples?
  • Which sites would they visit?
  • Where would they stay?

With this post, Regency Explorer provides a travel guide to the ‘Kingdom of Naples and Sicily’ for travellers of the Romantic Age. Continue reading