About

Leadenhall Street

Leadenhall Street in London, painted by J Hopkins c1837.

Travel journals offer us a window into the past. They free us from the interpretations and opinions of modern historians and offer us eye-witness accounts, from the perspective of a visitor to a foreign land. The big events in history often had an impact on what tourists found when they arrived at their destination, but they were seldom the focus of their writing. Instead, they have left us with a snapshot of everyday life: the rich and the poor, the towns and the countryside, the behaviour and the misbehaviour. It is probably the closest we will ever come to travelling back into the past to find out what life was like. These old journals do not deserve to be forgotten; they are the key to our own history.

This will be the initial focus of my blog – an exploration of largely forgotten travel journals.  I will be looking mainly at 19th Century journals.  It was a century that saw an explosion in the diversity of journals, with travel became faster and easier as the century progressed.

But the blog will not be limited to the 19th Century or even to journals.  I want to look at publications from the past in general, investigating far beyond the well-known classics, finding interesting gems from long-forgotten books.  There are many many thousands of books that have long since gone out of print, and are rarely read today, including some writers who were as popular as modern best-selling authors in their day. Non-fiction will be the richest seam to mine, but there may be some occasional forays into the world of fiction, and I will also be attempting to unearth some unpublished manuscripts for their historical insights.

Instead of ploughing right in with my first look at a 19th Century journal, I felt it was important to explain first the premise of the blog and what lies ahead.  The posts will be a mixture of simple quotes from interesting texts with some degree of commentary, and essays interspersed with relevant quotes.

If you would like to know when a new entry is posted, please click the “Follow Windows into History” button on the right side of the screen.  You do not have to be a member of WordPress.  You will be prompted to enter your email address and then the system will automatically email you every time a new article is online.

I hope you enjoy sharing this journey through the windows into history that forgotten texts offer us.

72 Responses to About

  1. Good morning, thanks for stopping by and following my blog. The premise of your blog sounds interesting. I am sure I will enjoy going back in time to visit early travel journals. Looking forward to following you as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful idea! Thanks for following me. I will be checking in on your journal entries.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rudy Owens says:

    Looking forward to the unearthing of forgetten gems. One of my constant thoughts are, as libraries purge their dusty collections, we’ll lose these windows to the past. It’s always in these old items largely forgotten that I find great insights to reality as others saw it not so long ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some of the universities are doing fantastic jobs at scanning old books, but still it is inevitable that a lot will have been lost over the years. Unfortunately some of the most useful books from a social history perspective are probably the ones that would have been considered disposable over the years. Much to my disappointment, the British universities seem to be lagging behind the American and Canadian ones in scanning books and offering the scans online, so it is relatively easy to find interesting texts referring to North America, but much more challenging to find British texts, without tracking down physical copies.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rudy Owens says:

    Thanks for sharing that good news. Look forward to future posts that bring this context to light.

    Like

  5. What an interesting concept! I love travel journals, especially illustrated ones, and have been keeping them for years. My newest thing is making my own books. Ciao, Cristina

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi there,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by my little corner of the blogosphere and for the follow. I hope that you get as much pleasure from it as I do,
    Looking forward to seeing more from you 🙂

    Eddie

    Like

  7. Nick Fox says:

    This is a fantastic project. Great writing that has fallen through the cracks of history. Looking forward to reading more of this.

    Keep on the good foot,

    Nick Fox

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for visiting and following my blog “A Picture a Day” at http://jimvaniterson.wordpress.com
    Much appreciated. I hope you will enjoy looking at my pictures as much as I enjoy making them.
    Abd I think your blog is something I will follow with pleasure

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Herman says:

    Hi there! Thank you for visiting and following HoB. Much appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for the follow, and I’m enjoying your blog as well. I absolutely love your pics at the top of your blog. How creative. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Opher says:

    Yeah – interesting and different!

    Like

  12. Andrea Gerak says:

    Hi Roger, nice to meet you! (And what’s your name? I couldn’t find it…)
    Nice idea with these journals. Unfortunately I can’t read long texts on the computer, but I am sure that some of your writings will inspire me to find a hard copy of the books you are reviewing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jule's Rant says:

    Fantastic idea for a blog, thanks for the follow. I’m looking forward to reading more!

    Take care, Jules

    https://travelthroughus.wordpress.com/

    Liked by 1 person

  14. What a lovely idea! One of my all time favorite books is a travel journal — Goethe’s Italian Journey. I saw Italy through his eyes before I saw it through my own and I’ve been grateful ever after for such a guide.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am quite convinced that following in the footsteps of some of these old travel journal writers, and comparing how things have changed or stayed the same over the years, would make for a fascinating holiday. I may have to thing about something along those lines myself one day!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I “followed” Goethe over the Brenner Pass and then stayed in Verona because Goethe had written in detail about the city. I had a couple of other agendas of my own, but that was one of them. It was really thrilling to see the Arena because I’d already “seen” it through Goethe’s eyes. It was also cool to see how many things in that area had been named for Goethe — it made me think of all the people who might have followed him just as I had. When I was a kid I was passionate about Lowell Thomas’ journeys, too. I’ve also read (since I lived in China in the 80s) a lot of old diaries of the “Old China Hands” — they are, as you say, windows on a time. Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Uschi says:

    Thanks for following Sawyer’s adventures! Looking forward to reading more of your blog! ~Uschi

    Liked by 1 person

  16. dawnrstarr says:

    I have been enjoying your interesting and inspiring exploration of former travel writings. I sometimes see myself as an adventurous traveler, but pale beside those early travel explorers.
    Happy to see you enjoyed my post on Valencia (Spain.) Dawn

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Looking forward to time-journeying with you through your blog, Thank you for the follow, and love the idea of the “Creepy History” series.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. kvjinc says:

    Thanks for the follow. I’m enjoying reading your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This is such an interesting focus for a website. Looking forward to following.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Exciting. I have always been a fan of travel journals and look forward to the treasures you reveal. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thanks for the follow! Your blog is fascinating. Looking forward to reading more of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. crea2010 says:

    Interesting blog you have. Thank you for following my blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. bluebrightly says:

    I just have to ditto everyone else – great idea for a blog, and thanks for the follow!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Very cool concept! I’m a bit of fan of history myself, looking forward to exploring your blog. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. mytiturk says:

    Thanks for following my blog. Yours is providing a valuable service to those of us who have found old books that we liked enough to borrow a second time gone, replaced because of new pressures that are put on instructions to be all things to all people, a quixotic mission.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Thank you for the follow. Your blog looks fascinating. Glad you found us so we could find you!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Leya says:

    Brilliant idea for a blog. I have read some old journals myself, and will try to follow you as well..

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I’ve been having a lovely time reading some of your snippets! So interesting to read travel journals from history.
    Thanks so much for following our blog. I hope you enjoy the stories of our journey. And don’t be a stranger – come on over and join the conversation.
    Cheers,
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Leya says:

    Alexandra David-Néel, was an interesting person and wrote books about her life – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandra_David-N%C3%A9el
    Thank you for the follow! Much appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. rigmover says:

    Hey thanks for stopping by my blog and the follow, Hope you enjoy my blog, you have a great blog here.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Thank you for posting such an interesting blog. I look forward to following you.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. What a delightful find! History one can enjoy. I’ll be back!
    Thanks for your perusal of my posts at Stepsandpauses – some of which may in a hundred years prove indicative of how life was in 2015.
    Jazz

    Liked by 1 person

  33. brickthomas says:

    You have a very concept for a blog. I look forward to following. Also thanks for stopping by my blog. Brick

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Thank you for taking the time to read one of my posts and for your interest. Very much appreciated. I enjoyed your first Christmas History article and look forward to checking back for more. Such an interesting and original perspective for a blog. ~ Margaret

    Liked by 1 person

  35. The Fat Kat says:

    HI!!! I LOVE HISTORY! SO MUCH! I’m more into England’s History though. Anyway, thanks for dropping by my blog and for a follow. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, thanks for your comment! Some of my journal articles were about travellers from abroad who visited England in the 19th Century and recorded their experiences and impressions, so you might enjoy those – they can be accessed from the contents page. At the moment, I have a series of Christmas History articles, in the lead up to Christmas, with a new one every day. Congratulations on a lovely blog 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  36. Samantha says:

    Thank you for your follow of my blog 🙂
    I loooooove travelling, and the idea behind your blog is truly brilliant! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Rob McShane says:

    What an interesting blog you have developed here! Many thanks for following mine! 🙂
    See you soon…

    Liked by 1 person

  38. coffee&twigs says:

    One of the more unique and innovative blogs we’ve found so far! Very excited to keep getting updates 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  39. M. L. Kappa says:

    Great blog! I’m glad I discovered you, looking forward to browsing. And thanks for following mine!

    Liked by 1 person

  40. ramaink says:

    What a wonderful idea!! Really enjoyed reading some of the posts!
    And thank you for the follow!

    Liked by 1 person

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