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Wilson, John, 1808–1891
Grand Tour diaries of John and Richard Wilson.
France ; Switzerland ; Italy, 1830-1846.
Physical Description:
10 v. ; 16-24 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
In Process D917.W5 .J68 1830
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
Collection of manuscript diaries, in 10 volumes, recording Grand Tour travels of John and Richard Wilson, from 1830 to 1846.
Volume 1 (140 pages) comprises an account of a six month tour through France, Switzerland, and an excursion to Milan, undertaken by John Wilson and his elder brother Richard. The tour lasted from April to September 1830, and the brothers would have been aged 24, and 22. It may well have been their first time abroad, as there is certainly nervousness apparent before the crossing to Dieppe--pacing the pier--and once on board "traveller after traveller disappeared below, but I still remained, and I know not when I have eyed an object so wistfully as I then regarded the Brighton coast ... a tinge of conscience brought me to my senses & made me awake to the dismal uncertainty of my own situation." The first leaf appears to have been lost as the brothers have reached Lincolnshire when the manuscript starts. There are some neat pencil notes of places visited written in the margins, by a later owner who notes the purchase of the volume in 1931 from the library of Darcy Bruce Wilson, who died unmarried at Seacroft Hall in 1936. This appears to be a Mrs Gott, as some later letters addressed to her accompanying the manuscripts provide additional information. One is written by John Wilson's daughter Louisa in 1938: "I am so glad to find that the old journal had fallen into interested hands. There were several of them and one of my sister's interests during the time she was at the Hall was to transcribe one or two of them. The party varied from time to time; this journey seems to have been made by my father, after leaving Trin. Coll. Camb, with William Spooner, who became his brother-in-law, & the father of the late Warden of New College. If there was a third member of the party it might either be my father's brother Richard, or Henry Denning Macleod whose sister my father married later on.“ The other letter is from Frank Beckwith, of the Leeds Library, passing on Mrs Gott's original letter to Miss Wilson with an accompanying note.
Volumes 2-5 (78, 78, 43, and 184 pages) comprise an account of a two month tour to Geneva, Avignon, Genoa and Turin. Volume 1, which covers dates from April to May, 1831, begins: "Set out from our winter quarters at Geneva, having determined, in company with our friend G. to steer our course towards the southern frontiers ..." Loosely inserted in v. 2 is an invitation card addressed to Messieurs Wilson, from Le Prince et la Princess de Loewenstein-Wertheim, "de leur faire l'honneur de passer la soiree chez euz, Lundi 14 Mars." Vol. 3 (July-October, 1831) includes a note that this volume was also copied by Mrs [Constance] Eade, daughter of John Wilson, who married the Rev. Eade in 1887. Vol. 4 (August -October 1831) is not in John Wilson's hand, and is most likely written by his brother Richard. Vol. 5 (Oct. 1831-July 1832) includes a record (on the rear endpaper) of the books they read or took with them.
Volume 6 (180 pages) is an account of a tour in Sicily and Southern Italy, from March to April, 1832. There is a note on an endpaper noting that a copy of this volume was made by Mrs Eade. This copy is also present (in two volumes), and notes that their travelling companion was William Galton.
Volume 7 (126 pages) cover a much later tour of Italy, from May to November, 1846. It is also accompanied by a copy made by Mrs. Eade, with a note therein on the marriage of John Wilson, April 13th 1846.
Subject Terms:
Europe -- Description and travel.
France -- Description and travel.
Germany -- Description and travel.
Grand tours (Education)
Italy -- Description and travel.
Switzerland -- Description and travel.
Voyages and travels -- 19th century.
Wilson, John, 1808-1891 -- Diaries.
Wilson, Richard 1806-1867 -- Diaries.
Travel literature -- Europe -- 1830-1846.
Wilson, Richard 1806-1867.

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