Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Saved by bibliography

The bookcharmer is experiencing a moment of elation and chagrin, teeth-grinding joy. To expand my knowledge about travelers and travel writers, I have been going through Patricia Netzley's Encyclopedia of Women's Travel and Exploration (Oryx 2001). I am try to place, in my own mind, whether Clara Laughlin, owner of The Clara Laughlin Travel Agency and the author of the So You're Going guides of the the 20's and 30's can be classified as a writer of guidebooks or a travel writer. In fact, it will take more reading of her 12 guides to figure out what percentage is about her as a traveler vs. what she recommend others see on their own travels. But that aside, I am also, in my usual overly ambitious and naive way, trying to learn more about the history of "modern" travel, travel for leisure or education and social purposes, rather than, say, travel as pilgrimage for religious or penitential or missionary purposes.

So, that led to picking up Netzley's book, which, at less than 300 pages, is still titled an encyclopedia. Cited as further reading for the entry on Europe, Continental, is this nugget of pure bibliographic gold:

Withey, Lynne. Grand tours and Cooks' Tours: A History of Leisure Travel, 1750-1915. New York: W. Morrow, 1997.

I confess, this title raised my eyebrows and brought forth from my less that sotto vocce a mild swear. Why haven't I found this title before?

An immediate trip to the catalog reveals that Witheys' book, a volume of 401 pages, gets exactly this for a subject heading, just this one:

Voyages and travels--history

That's it.

It is shelved in the G96 section, which upon browsing, seems more about geography than travel.

I'm trying to put those minor cavils aside, since Withey's book is immensely promising for getting me up to speed on that great provider of tours, the Thomas Cook company.

Chagrin. Why did it take me so long to find this book? Grateful as I am for the reference that appeared in Netzley's book, I am still grouchy that my frequent trolling of library catalogs had not previously turned up this source.

Perhaps a coffee, no, make that a double latte, will cheer me up. I know that the list of sources in Withey's book will also make for some teeth grinding joy.

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