‘If It’s 1815, This Must Be Belgium': The Origins of the Modern Travel Guide

Pieter Francois

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article calls for a more evolutionary understanding of the “birth of the modern travel guide” by contextualizing the guidebooks of Murray and Baedeker within the wider genre and by focusing on their lesser-known predecessors. An analysis of British travel guides to and accounts of “Belgium” from the period 1815–1870 reveals that the division between the “travel account” and the “travel guide” was not always clear-cut, as both genres were closely intertwined. It demonstrates that the process of gathering travel information became less transnational during the period 1815–1870 and increasingly reliant on internal borrowing from other travel guides and accounts published in English. We therefore need a more nuanced assessment of the use of travel literature as a source for the study of intercultural representation, imagery, and stereotypes—an assessment in which there is ample room for a transnational focus
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-92
JournalBook History
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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