An incomparable, anecdotal view of Europe during two crucial periods of the 19th century is offered through this unique collection. The daily, handwritten diaries of Harvard Professor George Ticknor and his wife Anna from 1815-19 and 1835-37 provide insight into the perceptions and values of well-educated Americans on "The Grand Tour."
Students will find useful information for studying European and American history, literature, and culture. The Ticknors kept meticulous accounts with discriminating eyes, and they interacted with many important figures of the era. An interesting perspective on Byron is offered, for example. Ticknor wrote: "He told me a great deal of the history of his early feelings and habits--of the impressions of extreme discontent under which he wrote Childe Harold. . ."
Ticknor's account of reactions in London to the Battle of Waterloo, which occurred during his first visit, is of special interest to students of history.
Both George and Anna's accounts include comparisons of English and American literary institutions, literary communities, shops and houses, food, and manners. Also carefully detailed are such activities as stagecoach rides, booksellers' dinners, visits to artists' galleries and factories, and the political discussions held in many influential drawing rooms in Europe.
Opinions on various sights and people are indicative of the mentality of Americans traveling in Europe during this period. On visiting the home of Goethe in Weimar, George Ticknor wrote: "[the house] as it is now exhibited, seemed to me a monument of the vanity of a man who was spoiled by life. . .of constant, uniform success, every wish not only fulfilled but anticipated, so that he came at last to think whatever related to himself to be of great consequence to the whole world."
Anna Ticknor's comments in these journals will serve to illuminate the role of upper-middle class women of the time and will contribute to work in women's studies.
The Ticknors' original papers are housed at Dartmouth College.