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Chawton House Library: Women's Travel Writings are multi-volume editions with full texts reproduced in facsimile with new scholarly apparatus. The texts have been carefully selected to illustrate various themes in women's history.
Women's Studies, Literature, Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Studies, Romanticism, Travel Writing, Biography and Political History
Stephen Bending and Stephen Bygrave are both at the University of Southampton.
1) Women's Travel Writings in Italy
All the writings in these volumes describe Italy in the years immediately following the fall of Napoleon.
[Lady Anna Riggs Miller], Letters from Italy (1777)
Anna Riggs' Letters offer an unusually forthright and detailed account of Italy and the arts in the 1770s. Ridiculed by Horace Walpole for her poor grasp of foreign languages, Riggs's detailed, confident and knowledgeable discussion of Italian art collections nevertheless challenges a male-dominated world of connoisseurship and offers the modern reader one of the fullest demonstrations of fine art criticism in the late eighteenth century.
Hester Lynch Piozzi, Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy and Germany (1789)
Constantly shifting in register and style, Piozzi's observations continue to divide critical opinion; variously characterized as inept or experimental, acutely aware of Johnson, Reynolds and Burke, fascinated by the literary and the quotidian, Piozzi highlights the flexible and ambiguous positions and perspectives inhabited and articulated by eighteenth-century women travel writers.
Maria Graham, Three Months Passed in the Mountains East of Rome (1820)
In 1819, the Englishwoman Maria Graham spent three months in the mountains east of Rome. Already an established travel writer, Graham was keen to see parts of Italy that did not form part of the established tourist trail and to observe the local villagers whom she described as having 'manners and habits [which] savour of an older world'. Much of the book is devoted to descriptions and drawings of a troupe of local bandits whom Graham regarded as romantic heroes but who eventually drove the party back to Rome.
Lady Morgan, Italy (1821)
Sydney Owenson's, alias Lady Morgan, travelogue is a landmark of empathy for a post- Napoleonic Italy in the throes of repression. It is full of anecdotes as well as of sweeping political statements about Italian history and society, England's role in Restoration Europe, and her own situation as a woman traveller with Jacobin sympathies. The Quarterly Review described it as 'a series of offences against good morals, good politics, good sense, and good taste' and it was censured by the King of Sardinia, the Emperor of Austria, and the Pope. Nevertheless it made her famous, earning Byron's praise for its radicalism, and was used by generations of Anglophone visitors as a stimulating guidebook.
Harriet Morton, Protestant Vigils, or Evening Records of a Journey in Italy (1829)
Morton gives a glimpse into the world of a middle-class English Protestant traveller in southern Europe, struggling to reconcile the architectural and artistic beauties of the scenes before her with her deeply-held anti-Catholic prejudices.
2) Women's Travel Writings In Revolutionary France
This seven-volume facsimile set comprises firsthand accounts of France in the 1790s. Helen Maria Williams's letters narrate the fall of Robespierre in 1794 and her 1798 book on Switzerland comments sceptically on the necessary coexistence of liberty with peace. Charlotte West who, like Williams, celebrated the fall of the Bastille but was later imprisoned by the republic, records the corruption, paranoia and violence of the Terror both in the provinces and in Paris.
- All texts are republished in full
- Selected for their rarity, the texts are drawn from Chawton House's unparalleled collection
- Most of the texts included have never before been republished
- Each set in the series includes a substantial general introduction, headnotes, endnotes and a consolidated index in their final volume
- Each facsimile page is digitally cleaned and enhanced, significantly improving on the quality and legibility of the original
Volumes 1 & 2
Helen Maria Williams, Letters Containing a Sketch of the Scenes which Passed in Various Departments of France during the Tyranny of Robespierre (1796)
Written at a moment of optimism after the brutal politics of the Terror, Helen Maria Williams's letters (drawn from her bestselling account of France in the 1790s) combine the sentimental language of sympathy with an account of the horrors of Republican violence and a detailed narrative of Robespierre's rise and fall.
Helen Maria Williams, A Tour in Switzerland (1798)
Having fled to Switzerland following her critical account of Robespierre Williams's 1798 book relates the electrifying effects of the Revolution on the cantons; it combines an account of the topography of the Alps with an acerbic and sceptical commentary on the claim that liberty inevitably accompanies peace.
Charlotte West, A Ten Years' Residence in France, During the Severest Part of the Revolution ... 1787 to 1797 (1821)
Charlotte West who, like Williams, celebrated the fall of the Bastille and was later imprisoned by the republic, records the corruption, paranoia and violence of the Terror both in the provinces and in Paris: she claims to host the French royal family after they are turned back from Varennes and glimpses a 'gloomy' and 'mischievous' Napoleon.
A Sketch of Modern France (1798)
'By a Lady', though equally possibly by its putative editor, Christopher Lake Moody, the epistolatory Sketch of Modern France relates travel through that country in the turbulent years of the Directory, where the slogan 'liberty or death' names a real and urgent choice.
Anne Plumptre, A Narrative of a Three Years' Residence in France, 1802-5 (1810)
Plumptre's Narrative combines a cosmopolitan travel narrative of southern France in the early 1800s with reflections on the 1790s, anecdotes from the Revolution, of the fall of Robespierre and a lengthy defence of Napoleon against the accusations of his English critics, looking back on the revolutionary period before the Terror as a moment of high ideals and now defeated aspirations.
_____. Bending, Stephen, and Stephen Bygrave, eds. Women's Travel Writings in Italy. Series editors, Stephen Bending and Stephen Bygrave. Volume editors: Donatella Badin, Julia Banister, Catherine Dille, Betty Hagglund and Annie Richardson. 9 vols. Part I, vols. 1-4. Part II, vols. 5-9. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2009-2010.
- Vols. 1-2. [Lady Anna Riggs Miller], Letters from Italy (1777)
- Vols. 3-4. Hester Lynch Piozzi, Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy and Germany (1789)
- Vol. 5. Maria Graham, Three Months Passed in the Mountains East of Rome (1820)
- Vols. 6-7. Lady Morgan, Italy (1821)
- Vols. 8-9. Harriet Morton, Protestant Vigils, or Evening Records of a Journey in Italy (1829)
_____. Women's Travel Writings in Revolutionary France. Edited by Stephen Bending and Stephen Bygrave. 7 vols. Part I, vols. 1-3. Part II, vols. 4-7. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2007-2008.
- Vols. 1-2. Helen Maria Williams, Letters Containing a Sketch of the Scenes which Passed in Various Departments of France during the Tyranny of Robespierre (1796)
- Vol. 3. Helen Maria Williams, A Tour in Switzerland (1798); Charlotte West, A Ten Years' Residence in France, During the Severest Part of the Revolution . . . 1787 to 1797 (1821)
- Vol. 4. A Sketch of Modern France (1798), "By a Lady," though equally possibly by its putative editor, Christopher Lake Moody
- Vols. 5-7. Anne Plumptre, A Narrative of a Three Years' Residence in France, 1802-1805 (1810)