My first post-doctoral assignment now goes back a few years when I was working for the project European Travellers to Wales 1750-2010 at Bangor University. Last year finally saw the publication of the book summarising the experiences and descriptions by visitors and travellers from German and French-speaking countries of continental Europe. Hidden Texts, Hidden Nation: (Re)Discoveries of Wales in Travel Writing in French and German (1780-2018), co-authored by Carol Tully, Kathryn Jones and Heather Williams, is now available from Liverpool University Press. As it turns out, it has also already received a favourable review by Mererid Puw Davies, who writes:
This rich, readable book surveys almost 250 years of writing by European travellers to Wales, from private letters to conventionally published works to contemporary digital forms. It broaches a remarkable, original field of research, encompasses a wide historical, linguistic, and critical range, and presents an impressive array of materials previously invisible to scholarship.Modern Language Review, 2021
“[A]n impressive array of materials previously invisible to scholarship.” Materials previously invisible. Previously invisible … allow me to introduce you to this previously invisible material. Below, you will find a few interactive charts and maps I created based on the travel accounts we looked at in the project. Among other meta-data, they illustrate the countries of origin, dates of travel and travel destinations over the centuries.
If you want to find out more about the content of each of the travel accounts and follow up the visited locations, the database Accounts of Travel is freely available to each and everyone and in many cases also links to digital copies of the original travel accounts. In this database, the project collected over 400 accounts from 18 countries and across 16 languages. As most of the titles did not carry the name “Wales” in their titles or even misidentified the country as England, I had to use quite a bit of lateral thinking when it came to trawling through various catalogues of national libraries and archives. Originally, we were told that if we managed to even just remotely find 100 titles, we’d more than exceed expectations. So once I cracked 200, it became a token of pride to continue hitting the search engines with more and more obscure terms. At 400+ titles, I think the results speak for themselves.
So with that, enjoy exploring the database and set out on your gratuitous armchair travel through the centuries around Wales!