Town and Tourists

How does a town become a tourist destination? Focusing mainly on Lyme Regis and the Peak District, these poems, guidebooks, catalogues and satires illustrate the interests and preoccupations of holidaymakers, explorers and those who accommodate them.

Dramatic Landscapes

Much of the poetry of the late 1600s and early 1700s suggests that, long before the Romantics, people were travelling to dramatic British landscapes in search of exciting experiences, and picturesque scenery. These seekers after sensation were well served, as is shown by the poems included here, in which enterprising locals are willing to act as guides and to supply flower-scented water for muddy hands.


Texts from the 19th and 20th centuries show the emergence and development of 'tourism' – a term which enters the language around 1800. Tourism proved to be a useful label for what was fast becoming a profitable industry. While the poems of Hobbes and Cotton may have enabled the traveller to follow in the poets' footsteps, the rise of tourism produces a new instructive genre: the guidebook. Examples of guides to Lyme Regis from 1882, 1901 and 1912 cater for readers interested in a whole range of subjects, from history and geology to the weather and the origins of street names, from folk legends and famous personalities to sea bathing, golf and fishing. The Ward Lock guidebook of 1901, the first of our examples to have been produced in London rather than locally, underlines the exclusivity and seclusion of a resort without a railway station and the attendant 'noisy trippers'. Lyme here is a secret kept by long-stay summer visitors in the know. By 1912, when the railway has eventually arrived in Lyme, the guidebook has to cater for the new class of visitors as well as holding on to the old.


The guidebooks carry advertisements of the day, illustrating the kind of goods and services (piano hire, flea powder, seasickness draughts, fire insurance, photographic views) that the new tourist might require.

The collection also shows examples of the rise of special-interest tourism. For instance, we include a satirical look at the self-educated woman – the bluestocking – in the form of Miss Indigo, and the catalogue for the Mr Stubbs' eclectic and bizarre museum. Both demonstrate the emergence of the 'scientific tourist', the amateur investigator, and the collector and classifier. These are complemented by accounts of Mary Anning ('the heroine of Lyme') given in children's books and guidebooks. The texts highlight the growth and spread of the language of science. This is the world into which Darwin's On the Origin of Species erupted in 1859.