New travel writer: William Gilpin, Observations on the River Wye

We have just added another book to our collection of historical British travel writing, William Gilpin’s Observations of the River Wye, and several parts of South Wales (London: Cadell Junior and W. Davies, 1800), describing journeys along the whole length of the river Wye, and also a circuit of south Wales, the first edition having been published in 1782. As always, the text has been integrated with our gazetteer, so names from Gilpin are included as variant place-names; and a few new places have been added to the gazetteer because Gilpin mentions them.

Gilpin was a founder of the picturesque movement, and the book contains little about the people he met but much discussion of why particular places are beautiful. The book is extensively illustrated by engravings made from Gilpin’s own sketches.

One consequence is that our collection now includes six of the nine books included in Nicholas Crane’s BBC series, Great British Journeys: Cobbett’s Rural Rides, Defoe’s Tour, Fiennes’ Through England, Gerald of Wales’ Journey through Wales, Gilpin and, as a separate short season, Camden’s Britannia. The three books we are missing are:

  • John Leland’s Itinerary, which we would love to add, but cleaning up the text available via Google Books would be a lot of work.
  • H.V. Morton’s writings on Scotland, published in the inter-war period and still in copyright.
  • Thomas Pennant’s A Tour in Scotland and Voyage to the Hebrides (1772); but we do have his From Chester to London.
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About Humphrey Southall

Director, Great Britain Historical GIS; Reader in Geography, University of Portsmouth
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One Response to New travel writer: William Gilpin, Observations on the River Wye

  1. Pingback: Why is 'across the piece' suddenly all over the place? | Steven Poole

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