Sponsored by The Book Club of California
6:00 PM – 7:15PM Pacific
In-person and virtual presentation
5:30 PM Pacific – Reception
6:00 PM Pacific – Program
The late 19th century has been labelled the “Baedeker Era” after the famous series of compact, bright-red travel guides published simultaneously in German, English, and French. The Baedeker guides’ trademark characteristics – systematic, impersonal, regularly updated, in a portable format packed with practical information and complementary maps – have served as a template for all subsequent guidebooks up to the present day.
But how did this specialty format develop? In a talk based on original research drawn from his personal collection spanning 1600 to 1840, Bill Newlin will trace the evolution of early travel guides, beginning with itineraries of Italy and France written by and for tutors escorting young noblemen on the Grand Tour.
Topics will include Lawrence Sterne’s beguiling satire of travel guidebooks in Tristram Shandy; a series aimed the emerging middle class launched by a British naval officer veteran of the Seven Years’ War; the 25-year interregnum under Napoleon when a German aristocrat publishing in French produced a masterwork that was blatantly plagiarized by two rapacious Parisian publishers in succession; the explosion of new travel guidebooks in English spurred by the return of British tourism to the continent after the Battle of Waterloo; and the emergence in the 1820s of arguably the first professional travel writer, the redoubtable Marianna Starke.
An illustrated talk by Bill Newlin, publisher and collector of travel guides.