Monthly Archives: April 2015

Journey’s end

"Travels into Print" at the publisher's stand.

“Travels into Print” at the publisher’s stand.

My interest in William Macintosh began in 2008 as part of an AHRC-funded research project investigating the publication of travel texts by the London firm John Murray (from the late-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century). Macintosh’s book was, in the context of that project, but one of approximately 240 texts of extra-European travel which fell under our consideration. The findings of that research project were published today by the University of Chicago Press under the title Travels into print: exploration, writing, and publishing with John Murray, 1773–1859.

My co-authors—Charles W. J. Withers and Bill Bell—and I submitted the proposal for Travels on 22 January 2010 (exactly 5 years and 3 months ago). Having lived with the book’s writing, editing, and publication for more than half a decade, it was a real thrill to see the printed artefact today in the exhibition hall at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Chicago. Conference delegates are able to pick up a copy of the book at a specially discounted rate of $36.

The kindness of strangers

Spine of "Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa", with false raised bands

Spine of “Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa”, with false raised bands.

When I was in New York at the end of March, I received an unexpected email from a stranger—an Illinois-based book collector, Jeff Armstrong. Jeff was, he told me, “getting on a bit” and currently in the process of selling off and passing on his collection of books, amassed over a quarter of a century. Among Jeff’s collection was an original 1782 edition of the second volume of Macintosh’s Travels. Having seen this blog, and knowing of my interest in Macintosh, Jeff was kind enough to gift me the book, which arrived, neatly wrapped, in my pigeon hole this morning.

The book had, Jeff explained, been “obtained at a sale by a local music professor… [who] loved the hunt for antiques as much as I did”. Jeff had tried, without success, for about twenty years to find a corresponding copy of the first volume of Travels—a task which I shall now happily assume.

Title page of "Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa"

Title page of “Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa”.

I am extraordinarily grateful to Jeff for his generosity.