This article considers the ways in which eighteenth-century womens travel
narratives function as autobiographical texts, examining the process by which a
travellers dislocation from home can enable exploration of the self through the
observation and description of place. It also, however, highlights the
complexity of the relationship between two forms of writing which a contemporary
readership viewed as in many ways distinctly different. The travel accounts
considered, composed (at least initially) in manuscript form, in many ways
contest the assumption that manuscript travelogues will somehow be more
self-revelatory than printed accounts. Focusing upon the travel writing of Lady
Mary Wortley Montagu, Katherine Plymley, Caroline Lybbe Powys and Dorothy
Richardson, the article argues for a more historically nuanced approach to the
reading of womens travel writing and demonstrates that the narration of travel
does not always equate to a desired or successful narration of the self.
particular15 the more
they are permitted a plurality of wives. But whether it happens through a
just punishment from Heaven, or proceed from their sorceries, which are
common and allowed in Turkey, and ordinarily practised by the women in
opposition to one another to appropriate the affections of their husbands, it
has always been observed that the Turks who keep many women are not so
well-stored with children as they who observe conjugal chastity and confine
themselves to one.
LadyMaryWortleyMontagu (1689–1762), writer, traveler,
and inoculation pioneer
’), Philips’s narrator causes us to
doubt the ability of medicine, or, indeed, the advice of a
well-meaning friend, to alter the mind of someone determined to make
themselves into ‘a sacrifise to cupid’.
LadyMaryWortleyMontagu (1689–1762) used a
poetic recipe in order to give similar advice, this time to an older
woman. In ‘A Receipt to Cure the Vapours. Written to Lady
occasional death. From Turkey, variolation was introduced into
England through the good offices, in part, of LadyMaryWortleyMontagu
(as shown in her letter below) and became reasonably widespread.
Extract of a letter from LadyMaryWortleyMontagu in Constantinople to
Mrs Sarah Chiswell, written in 1717 (Lynch n.d.: Letter XXXI)
The small-pox, so fatal, and so general amongst us, is here entirely harmless
by the invention of ingrafting, which is the term they give it . . .
Every year thousands undergo this operation; and the French ambassador
says pleasantly, that they
experience were generally quite uniform. 3 Here the patrons of the future mixed with antiquarians and architects, and even academics. As Edward Gibbon remarked, ‘according to the law of custom, and perhaps of reason, foreign travel completes the education of an English gentleman’. 4 That said, tourism was not solely the preserve of the English single male, as newly-weds, families and single women from across Europe also undertook these extended journeys. Notable here amongst British women travellers are LadyMaryWortleyMontagu and the Parminter sisters, Jane and
-pleasurist’ Lady Bell Travers; an older,
experienced, witty, female rake who may be a caricature of LadyMaryWortleyMontagu.88 It is in his encounter with the imperious,
powerful and self-possessed lady libertine that Cleland’s complex of
sexual continence, dietetic anxiety and visceral disgust is elaborated.
Lady Travers is a ‘seraglio of beauties’, whose personal refinement
precludes any sense of surfeit.89 It is ‘reserved for lady Travers alone
to disgust [Sir William] of lady Travers’.90 Driven by ‘unremitting
gust’ to pursue his paramour, Sir William enters her house
element of their response to other women within
the discourse of art. Moreover, Kavanagh’s description here holds the
same fascination for the exotic – woman as ‘Other’ – as those women
famously beheld by LadyMaryWortleyMontagu on her visit to a
Turkish baths. Writing from Adrianople, on 1 April 1717, to an
unknown female correspondent, Lady Montagu stresses the beauty of
the women she witnesses:
They Walked and mov’d with the same majestic Grace which Milton
describes of our General Mother.33 There were many amongst them as
exactly proportion’d as ever any Goddess
Journal of Politics, 63 (2001), 1–28; Tamara Gregg, ‘Universal history
from counter-reformation to enlightenment’, Modern Intellectual History, 4
(2007), 219–47; Porter, Turkey, i. p. 252.
Porter, Turkey, pp. 55–6, 73–4, 223–5, 237–8, 253–4, 259, 340.
Letters and Works of LadyMaryWortleyMontagu, ii. pp. 284–6; Porter,
Turkey, pp. 250, 273–5, 322, 324–5, 329; Isobel Grundy, LadyMaryWortleyMontagu (Oxford, 1999), pp. 138–9.
Grundy, LadyMaryWortleyMontagu, pp. 199–200; E.W. Fernea, ‘An
early ethnographer of Middle Eastern women – Montagu, Mary Wortley