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Focusing upon three previously unpublished accounts of youthful English travellers in Western Europe (in contrast to the renowned but maturely retrospective memoirs of other seventeenth-century figures such as John Evelyn), this study reassesses the early origins of the cultural phenomenon known as the 'Grand Tour'. Usually denoted primarily as a post-Restoration and eighteenth-century activity, the basis of the long term English fascination with the 'Grand Tour' was firmly rooted in the mid-Tudor and early-Stuart periods. Such travels were usually prompted by one of three reasons: the practical needs of diplomacy, the aesthetic allure of cultural tourism, and the expediencies of political or religious exile. The outbreak of the English Civil War during the late-1640s acted as a powerful stimulus to this kind of travel for male members of both royalist and parliamentarian families, as a means of distancing them from the social upheavals back home as well as broadening their intellectual horizons. The extensive editorial introductions to this publication of the experiences of three young Englishmen also consider how their travel records have survived in a variety of literary forms, including personal diaries (Montagu), family letters (Hammond) and formal prose records (Maynard's travels were written up by his servant, Robert Moody), and how these texts should now be interpreted not in isolation but alongside the diverse collections of prints, engravings, curiosities, coins and antiquities assembled by such travellers.
Dr Michael G. Brennan is Professor of Renaissance Studies at the School of English, University of Leeds, UK, and joint Honorary Secretary of the Hakluyt Society.
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