Travel Accounts

Nuievo Mundo
Pedro de Medina, Libro de grandezas y cosas memorables de España (1548)

Senate House Library’s special collections include a wide range of accounts across manuscript and print:

  • Manuscripts of travel guides and accounts, including transcripts of the journeys of 16th-century Spanish nobility (MS372) and a 17th-century French guidebook to Rome (MS274).
  • Printed accounts of Asia and the Americas from the 17th to 19th centuries, particularly in French; many of these are rare. Examples include a first edition of the Jesuit missionary Phillipe Avril’s Voyage en divers États d'Europe et d'Asie (1692) and Durret’s Voyage de Marseille à Lima, et dans les autres lieux des Indes Occidentales (1720).
  • 18th- and 19th-century tourist guides to European cities including Amsterdam, London and Naples. There is a particular concentration of material pertaining to Madrid in the Eliot-Phelips Collection, including almanacs.
  • Guides and accounts not in Romance languages, e.g. manuscript and printed diaries of grand tourists visiting Italy, Baedeker guides to southern Europe.

These sources are complemented by holdings across the various SAS libraries. The Institute of Historical Research library contains an excellent range of edited travel accounts, including the complete publications of the Hakluyt Society, as well as a good selection of bibliographies and reference works relevant for research in this area (see here for further information on these collections). The Warburg Institute also holds edited volumes of medieval and Renaissance accounts, particularly in French, Italian and Spanish (classmark ND); many of these are unavailable in other British libraries.