Ladies of the Grand Tour: British Women in Pursuit of Enlightenment and Adventure in Eighteenth-Century Europe

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9780060185435: Ladies of the Grand Tour: British Women in Pursuit of Enlightenment and Adventure in Eighteenth-Century Europe

According to the 1747 publication The Art of Governing a Wife, women in Georgian England were to "lay up and save, look to the house, talk to few and take of all within." However, some women broke from these directives and took up the distinctly male privilege of traveling to the Continent to develop mind, spirit, and body.

For many the Grand Tour -- often undertaken in great parades of coaches laden with servants, trunks, and furniture -- became an intellectual and romantic rite of passage. The landscape, health spas, salons, and social scene of Enlightenment Europe provided a wealth of glamorous, revolutionary, and therapeutic experiences from which many ladies returned "the best informed and most perfect creatures."

Brian Dolan leads us into the hearts and minds of the ladies through their stories, thoughts, and court gossip, recorded in journals, letters, and diaries. Ladies of the Grand Tour creates a mesmerizing portrait of a previously overlooked slice of eighteenth-century life.

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About the Author:

Brian Dolan is Wellcome Research Lecturer at the University of East Anglia. He received his doctorate from Cambridge University in 1995 and has been a history lecturer in Sweden and London. He is the author of Exploring European Frontiers: British Travelers in the Age of Enlightenment. An American by birth, Brian Dolan lives with his wife in Cambridge, England.

From Publishers Weekly:

For upper-class Englishmen in the 18th century, travel on the Continent represented pretty much what it does for college students today a chance to learn a few things and have some unsupervised fun. For women of that era, however, it might represent an opportunity denied to them at home: freedom from a narrowly defined femininity, the chance to develop and exercise their intelligence, an escape from an abusive marriage or, occasionally, a career as a travel writer or political correspondent. As Dolan points out, however, these benefits came at some real cost, since Continental travel, even for the rich, was neither comfortable nor safe, and the woman who remained too long abroad risked condemnation at home as unpatriotic, unfeminine or unchaste. While some were decidedly the last, using a sojourn abroad to pursue an irregular sexual liaison or to conceal its results, many found in revolutionary Paris or benign Tuscany a personal and intellectual liberty impossible in England and, like Mary Wollstonecraft, wrote home to say so. Although this book is richly detailed and immensely entertaining, it is a bit of a grab-bag in which women of no particular interest jostle for space with the genuinely significant. Still, it is hard to forget the otherwise obscure Elizabeth Webster, reluctant repatriate, being borne backwards over the Alps so that she would not lose sight of her beloved Italy until the last possible moment. 16 pages of color photos not seen by PW. (Nov. 16)Forecast: This entertaining volume will please students of women's history and of travel literature.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description HarperCollins, New York, 2001. Hard Cover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st.US Ed.. "According to the 1747 publication "The Art of Governing a Wife", women in Georgian England were to "lay up and save, look to the house; talk to few and take of all within." However, some women broke from these directives and took up the distinctly male privilege of traveling to the Continent to develop mind, spirit, and body". Bookseller Inventory # 15847

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