A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain
Britain in the early eighteenth century: an introduction that is both informative and imaginative, reliable and entertaining. To the tradition of travel writing Daniel Defoe brings a lifetime's experience as a businessman, soldier, economic journalist and spy, and his Tour (1724-6) is an invaluable source of social and economic history. But this book is far more than a beautifully written guide to Britain just before the industrial revolution, for Defoe possessed a wild, inventive streak that endows his work with astonishing energy and tension, and the Tour is his deeply imaginative response to a brave new economic world. By employing his skills as a chronicler, a polemicist and a creative writer keenly sensitive to the depredations of time, Defoe more than achieves his aim of rendering 'the present state' of Britain.
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The great road from London, through this whole county towards Ipswich and
Harwich, is the most worn with waggons, carts, and carriages; and with infinite
droves of black cattle, hogs, and sheep, of any road (that leads through no larger
The next (to come southward) was the road from St Albans to South Mims, a
village beyond Barnet. Soon after this road parts from the great coach road to the
north beginning at Hatfield. This road is so well mended, the work so well done,
dividing again, one branch entered London at Goswell-street and Aldersgate
street; and this was the principal road for waggons and pack-horses : the other
going directly to St John- street and into Smithfield; and this way was the chief
road for ...
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This journal of a series of trips "circuits" around England in the 1720's is part travelogue, part witty examination of legends, fables, & "history, part economic catalog, and part survery of facts of England.
It's written by Daniel Defoe-writer, journalist, soldier, & spy. Although less well known than some of his other works, it's well written and worth the effort.
The book captures England on the cusp of dramatic change. England was emerging into peace and prosperity after decades of dynastic and religious wars. Defoe captures English life just at the beginning of industrialization.
While popular with social historians and economists for all the detail it provides about life in this period, Defoe's witty and direct prose make it an interesting read for anyone wanting to learn more about 18th Century England.
A Summary of Defoes Career
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