Lipska, Aneta, The Travel Writings of Marguerite Blessington: The Most Gorgeous Lady on the Tour (London: Anthem Press, 2017).
If Marguerite Blessington (1788–1849) – the 'most gorgeous lady' in Dr. Samuel Parr's words – is ever remembered today, it is mostly for her famous literary salon and for her 'Conversations of Lord Byron' (1833 l–34), one of the poet’s early biographies. She is also infamous for the relationship with her step-daughter’s husband, the French dandy Count D’Orsay. Hardly anything, however, has been written on Blessington as a traveller and a travel writer. In 1820 she set off on a series of tours, in the course of which she kept journals which were then published as 'A Tour in The Isle of Wight, in the Autumn of 1820' (1822), 'Journal of a Tour through the Netherlands to Paris in 1821' (1822), 'The Idler in Italy' (1839) and 'The Idler in France' (1841).
Convinced that Marguerite Blessington merits scholarly attention as a travel writer, Aneta Lipska’s 'The Travel Writings of Marguerite Blessington' offers the first detailed analysis of Blessington's four travel books. This book reveals that travelling and travel writing offered Blessington endless opportunities to reshape her public personae, demonstrating that her predilection for self-fashioning was related to the various tendencies in tourism and literature as well as the changing aesthetic and social trends in the first half of the nineteenth century. The book argues that the author constructed diverse images of herself, depending on the circumstances in which she found herself. The early travel accounts foreground the personae of a chaperoned woman traveller and a novice writer, allowing her admission to the genre of travel writing. The mature travel writings present her to the public as indeed the 'most gorgeous lady' on the tour and a seasoned travel writer solidifying her position as a celebrity.
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filed under: studies of single traveller or author
in Travel Writing (journal)
for Travel Writing Studies (Nottingham Trent University)