Historical Travel Literature – a ‘rough guide’

SCOLAR has just launched a new onsite and online exhibition based on its historical Travel Writing works, and a presentation has been given on this topic in the ongoing Cardiff  Rare Books Lecture Series. Investigation of this topic was spurred by enquiries from the School of European Studies, so an oultine listing was produced of our historical books (1500-1914), and this shows we have around 2,000 volumes in stock for this topic and era (not all yet catalogued though). We have not yet explored our ancient/medieval travel sources amongst our rare books, nor looked at our modern 20th century travels in the Library’s collections.

We have a wide ranging collection of early modern overseas travel works, from Drake and Raleigh, through later sources from Cook and Dampier, up to more recent works by H.M. Stanley, Shackleton and others. However, the main strength in our collections lies in the wide coverage we have of British travels and the ‘Grand Tour’ of the continent in the 18th and 19th centuries; this is supported by our very strong holdings of Welsh travel writers on this topic.

Amongst the well known authors in our collections are Lady Montagu, Mary Wollstonecroft, and Isabella Bird, as well as Addison, Boswell, Sterne, Goethe, Voltaire and Wordsworth. On top of this we hold a multitude of volumes by minor or unknown authors, all providing a barometer of cultural opinion on their travels across the centuries and the continents. Our collections include works from slaves and shipwrecks, missionaries and ambassadors, traders and adventurers, and many by early ‘tourists’ !






( See  our  online digital travel writing exhibition selection at:     www.cf.ac.uk/insrv/libraries/scolar/digital/travel.html    )

( See our online listings of Welsh related travel writings at: www.cf.ac.uk/insrv/libraries/scolar/special/welsh/index.html   )


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