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The time-travelling antiquarian: Illustrated tourist guides to North Wales from Pennant to Piper

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This article seeks to examine the visual tropes of a specific genre of illustrated guidebook, originating in Thomas Pennant’s ‘extra-illustrated’ copy of his work A Tour in Wales published in stages between 1771–1776, and its legacy within twentieth-century depictions of the region. I would like to argue that illustration has contributed to a set of scopic practices and a social imaginary of the Welsh landscape, which are established with Pennant’s work and which endure into the twentieth century with the work of John Piper and the Shell Guides. There is an entanglement of time and space, of real and imaginary landscapes within these images, and I argue they represent a form of imaginative time travel. In addition to positioning the traveller in a particular place, the images also refer to particular spots of historical time. The practice of ‘extra illustration’ (sometimes called ‘Grangerisation’) through which the reader customizes their copy of a book also braids multiple temporalities into the reader/viewer experience of landscape. This is mediated by the nature of these extra illustrations, which are from disparate sources and historical contexts, appearing contiguously within the text. The depiction of the traveller in these images constructs and encourages the performance of a particular kind of touristic persona. The tourist is cast in the role of an eighteenth-century antiquarian – the amateur scholar seeking out archaeological remains, ruined buildings or ‘picturesque’ views, equally interested in collecting folklore as they are in historical fact, and engagingly non-specialist in their interest in a diverse range of subjects and approaches.
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Keywords: North Wales; antiquarianism; extra-illustration; illustration; picturesque; print culture; tourism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University

Publication date: April 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • Illustration is a rapidly evolving field with an excitingly broad scope. Despite its cultural significance and rich history, illustration has rarely been subject to deep academic scrutiny. The Journal of Illustration provides an international forum for scholarly research and investigation of a range of cultural, political, philosophical, historical, and contemporary issues, in relation to illustration. The journal encourages new critical writing on illustration, associated visual communication, and the role of the illustrator as visualizer, thinker, and facilitator, within a wide variety of disciplines and professional contexts.

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