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Abstract: George Bowen’s Handbook for Travellers in Greece, published by John
Murray in 1854, was the world’s first practical guide to Greece. It preserves Victorian
travel experiences at a time when guidebooks were beginning to denote the scale of
British influence, and opens up an overlooked area of British imperialism. This paper
contextualises and scrutinises Bowen’s Handbook, highlighting its significance in
bridging the bifurcation between picturesque travelogues and supposedly impartial
guides; in addressing tensions between systematisation and liberation; and in
challenging anti-Greek prejudice. It explores Bowen’s mixed identity as defender of
Greek liberty and emissary of a burgeoning colonial power, and asks if a critical
examination of his writings and life can provide an enriching route into the past.

Keywords: Nineteenth Century Greece; Victorian Travel; George Bowen; John Murray;
Handbook; Imperialism; Development of Tourism; Travel Writing

Biography: Helena Drysdale has a BA in History and Art History from Trinity College,
Cambridge, and a Creative Writing PhD from Exeter University, focusing on the past,
politics and processes of travel writing. She is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the
University of Winchester.

A.1. George Bowen and his 1854 Murray Handbook for Travellers in Greece

Helena Drysdale