Travel Writing

This is the largest collection of historical British travel writing on the web. Each author gives a different perspective on the towns and villages they visited:

  • For what they said about your town or village, search by place-name from our main home page
  • Select an author from our gallery below to learn more, and to read their book "cover-to-cover"
  • Click on place-names within the text to find out more about the places they visited
George Borrow

George Borrow

Wild Wales: Its People, Language and Scenery (1854)
James Boswell

James Boswell

The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1773)
John Byng

John Byng

The Torrington Diaries (1781-94)
William Camden

William Camden

Britannia (1610) - the first county-by-county survey of Britain
William Cobbett

William Cobbett

Rural Rides (1821-6)
Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe

A Tour in Circuits, through the Island of Great Britain (1720s)
Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

Through England on a Side Saddle (1690s)
medieval monk

Gerald of Wales

The Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales (1188)
medieval monk

Gerald of Wales

The Description of Wales (1190s)
William Gilpin

William Gilpin

Observations on the River Wye (1782)
George Head

George Head

A Home Tour through the Manufacturing Districts (1835)
George Head

George Head

A Home Tour through various parts of the United Kingdom (1837)
Paul Hentzner

Paul Hentzner

Travels in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth (1590s)
Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson

A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland (1773)
Karl Moritz

Karl Moritz

Travels in England in 1782
Thomas Pennant

Thomas Pennant

A Tour in Scotland (1769)
Thomas Pennant

Thomas Pennant

From Chester to London (1780)
Charles Wesley

Charles Wesley

Diary (1736-56): Building Methodism
John Wesley

John Wesley

Diary (1729-91): The leader of Methodism
Arthur Young

Arthur Young

Tours in England and Wales (1776-91)

This is a special collection of mostly lesser-known writers from the nineteenth century, all politically active, mostly from the skilled working class. They travelled not for pleasure or to write books, but to find work and spread ideas. These texts are generally shorter, drawn either from autobiographies or the radical press, but give a clearer idea of how ordinary people travelled. The pictures of the writers mostly show them in old age, but the journeys were mostly made in their 20s and 30s.

William Adams

William Adams

A radical printer in the 1850s
Henry Broadhurst

Henry Broadhurst

The first working man to become a British government minister
Robert Gammage

Robert Gammage

A tramping artisan in the 1840s becomes a Chartist agitator
Feargus O'Connor

Feargus O'Connor

The Chartists' main leader tours Scotland in 1839
Edwin Russell

Edwin Russell

Organising farm hands in 1872 (Labourers' Union Chronicle)
Henry Vincent

Henry Vincent

"Life and Rambles", spring 1839 (from the Western Vindicator)

Search the full text of the travel writing

If you are looking for mentions of particular places in Britain, you will be better off searching using the main home page, as our travellers often use very old-fashioned versions of place-names. Use this form to find mentions of places outside Britain, locations that do not fit our definition of "place", such as landed estates, or any other term you are interested in.

Searching for "places" via the main home page will take you straight to the first mention within the text, but this more general facility simply takes you to relevant selections and you must then use your browser's search facility to find the actual reference.

One particular "place" had to be treated differently: London. We have excluded it from our marking-up of place names, because it was constantly mentioned by travellers wherever they were; for example, Boswell mentions London in every single chapter of his tour of Highland Scotland. Conversely, detailed descriptions of the metropolis seldom mention "London", only districts within the city. Follow these links to reach detailed accounts of London by Defoe, Fiennes and Moritz.

We also excluded from our marking-up references to counties or larger areas, and most geographical names when used to identify particular people: the Earl of Salisbury, the Bishop of Winchester, William of Malmesbury.

As far as possible, selections are the chapters in the original book and each begins with a clickable map of the places mentioned.