“The Devil may take Snowdon”, or: inscribing touristic disappointment in the Snowdon visitors’ books

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Contributor(s) Organisations
Date

01 Jun 2021

Type(s) Oral presentation

Event details

Event TitleThe Register & Visitors’ Book in Historical Scholarship
Duration01 Jun 2021 → …
LocationUniversity of Guelph
CityGuelph
CountryCanada
TypeWorkshop

Description

Historically, tourism in Wales was invigorated by the reinvention of mountain scenery during the Romantic period. The formerly forbidding mountain landscape became a place which invited travellers to gain new perspectives of the travelled country from higher ground. It is also during this period that inns and guesthouses began the very British tradition of keeping visitors’ books, in which guests provided evaluations of their hosts’ good services. The participatory nature of these albums soon encouraged inscribers not only to provide factual reviews, but also to branch out into composing occasional poetry, humorous vignettes of a day’s travel or satirical character sketches of fellow travellers and the locals. The visitors’ books from the huts formerly located on the summit of Snowdon during the nineteenth century provide insight into travellers’ personal backgrounds, habits, expectations and experiences of ascending the highest mountain in Wales. These messages, occasional poetry and even caricatures offer a series of snapshots over a prolonged period of time, constituting a collaborative form of travel writing. In the study of nineteenth-century travel writing about Wales, these messages form a valuable contribution, particularly by non-professional writers. They reveal how the quality of professional tour guides, commercial infrastructure, the weather and the food sold in the huts shaped the overall experience of Snowdon as a touristic highlight or disappointment.