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George Bowen and his 1854 Murray Handbook for Travellers in Greece

Helena Drysdale

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Published Date:

January 2022


Nineteenth-Century Greece, Victorian Travel, George Bowen, John Murray, Handbook, Imperialism, Development of Tourism, Travel Writing


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.

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10 - 34

Date of Publication:

January 2022

About the author

Helena Drysdale

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.

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