The Shelleys, the Wordsworths, and the Family Tour

  • Michelle Levy
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Cultures of Print book series (PERCP)


The analogy between travel and authorship had great resonance for many Romantic authors, whether what comes to mind is the Ancient Mariner or the “undomestic Wanderer” of the Prelude (13.67), Childe Harold, or Mary Shelley’s invocation “of the story of Columbus and his egg.” By drawing upon the metaphors of travel and in particular the mythology of geographical discovery to describe authorship, Romantic authors sought to valorize themselves as intrepid searchers after truth as well as situate themselves within a wider historical narrative and geographical frame.1 To speak of the author as a traveler in unknown regions, as one who must “clear and often shape his own road,” was to emphasize that his great achievement had been made with almost complete autonomy. But, as I have been arguing throughout, authorship was rarely a solitary activity—indeed, it was often and perhaps usually intensely social. Tourism, likewise, was rarely a solitary activity, and even discovery (aesthetic, geographical, and scientific) was in actuality rarely achieved through the efforts of individuals acting alone.


Publication Strategy Manuscript Writing Family Tour Solitary Activity Collaborative Authorship 
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© Michelle Levy 2008

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  • Michelle Levy

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