The Travel Writings of Marguerite Blessington

The Travel Writings of Marguerite Blessington

The Most Gorgeous Lady on the Tour

By Aneta Lipska

Anthem Studies in Travel

This book is the first monograph of the travel writings of Marguerite Blessington (1788–1849) and offers the first detailed analysis of her four travel books.

Paperback, 178 Pages


November 2019

£25.00, $40.00

  • About This Book
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  • Author Information
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  • Table of Contents
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About This Book

If Marguerite Blessington (1788–1849) – the “most gorgeous lady” in Dr. Samuel Parr’s words – is ever remembered today, it is mostly for her famous literary salon and for her ‘Conversations of Lord Byron’ (1833 l–34), one of the poet’s early biographies. She is also infamous for the relationship with her step-daughter’s husband, the French dandy Count D’Orsay. Hardly anything, however, has been written on Blessington as a traveller and a travel writer. In 1820 she set off on a series of tours, in the course of which she kept journals which were then published as ‘A Tour in The Isle of Wight, in the Autumn of 1820’ (1822), ‘Journal of a Tour through the Netherlands to Paris in 1821’ (1822), ‘The Idler in Italy’ (1839) and ‘The Idler in France’ (1841).

Convinced that Marguerite Blessington merits scholarly attention as a travel writer, Aneta Lipska’s ‘The Travel Writings of Marguerite Blessington’ offers the first detailed analysis of Blessington’s four travel books. This book reveals that travelling and travel writing offered Blessington endless opportunities to reshape her public personae, demonstrating that her predilection for self-fashioning was related to the various tendencies in tourism and literature as well as the changing aesthetic and social trends in the first half of the nineteenth century. The book argues that the author constructed diverse images of herself, depending on the circumstances in which she found herself. The early travel accounts foreground the personae of a chaperoned woman traveller and a novice writer, allowing her admission to the genre of travel writing. The mature travel writings present her to the public as indeed the “most gorgeous lady” on the tour and a seasoned travel writer solidifying her position as a celebrity.


‘Superbly researched and beautifully written, Aneta Lipska’s book brings back into welcome focus one of the most intriguing women authors of the early nineteenth century. This is a significant contribution to travel writing studies.’
—Peter Hulme, Emeritus Professor in Literature, University of Essex, UK

‘In this pioneering study, Aneta Lipska saves Marguerite Blessington’s travel accounts from near oblivion and convincingly proves that Blessington was more than Lord Byron’s scandalous interlocutor. She was a gifted writer who mastered the convention of a travelogue in the epoch of pre-commercial journeying.’
—Zbigniew Białas, Professor of English, University of Silesia, Poland

‘This is a very useful addition to recent studies of Lady Blessington, offering a sophisticated, theoretically informed approach to women’s travel writing in the nineteenth century. It illuminates distinctive features of her style, such as the intermingling of “fact” and “fiction”, and deepens understanding of the cultural context of British travel in Europe in the period.’
— Michael Hollington, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Kent, UK

‘The Travel Writings of Marguerite Blessington provides a very original analysis of Marguerite Blessington’s two early and hitherto disregarded travelogues: A Tour in the Isle of Wight and Journal of a Tour through the Netherlands to Paris, followed by context-sensitive and detailed, valuable readings of The Idler in Italy and The Idler in France. Lipska raises wider concerns about the Romantic woman traveller and her contexts of self-fashioning.’
—Susanne Schmid, Professor, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

‘Lady Blessington's reputation has grown considerably in recent years and she is now acknowledged as a key writer, editor and salonnière of the 1820s, 30s and 40s. Aneta Lipska provides a fresh analysis of Blessington's eclectic travel writing. This enjoyably quirky study interweaves Blessington's tours with their rich biographical, cultural and critical contexts. Brimming with new insights and offering a commanding survey of existing work in the field, Lipska's study is the first full-length commentary on Blessington's unique blend of memoir and tour guide. Lipska is particularly good on the paradox of Blessington's self-presentation as an “idler” who restlessly traversed Europe, cramming in sight-seeing, soirées and shopping. Explaining how Blessington re-energizes the travel discourses of her time, Lipska provides a fascinating and evocative account of “silver fork” society and the strenuous ease of the British aristocrat on tour.’
—Jane Stabler, Professor in Romanticism, University of St Andrews, Scotland

Author Information

Aneta Lipska holds a PhD from the University of Silesia and has recently taught at Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz, Poland, and at the State College in Włocławek, Poland. Her main research interests include travel literature of the nineteenth century as well as Anglo-Italian literary and cultural relations. In addition to the current book, The Travel Writings of Marguerite Blessington, Lipska has published several articles on Marguerite Blessington’s travel accounts.


Anthem Studies in Travel

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations; List of Abbreviations; Acknowledgements; Preface; Introduction; Part I: Texts; 1. Paratexts; 2. From life to text; 3. Fictional strategies; Part II : Images; 4. Natural sceneries; 5. Ruins and edifices; 6. Sacred art and religious practices; Part III: Spaces; 7. Genoa: Byron’s companion; 8. Naples: Lady of the house; 9. Rome and Venice: Romantic traveller; 10. Paris: Writer of fashion and revolution; Conclusion; Notes; Bibliography; Index.


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