Review by: Rachel Levin
Essay By: James Paterson,
Department of History,
University of Sydney


An Examination of A Voyage to Russia (1739):
The First Travel Account Published by an Englishwoman

With the publication of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's so-called Turkish Embassy Letters in 1763, a "lady traveller" first scored a hit with the British reading public. To describe the Embassy Letters as a hit is almost an understatement, however, for it was certainly the most popular nonfictional travel account of the entire eighteenth century. It is also an enduring classic of English literature, having been regularly reprinted right through the nineteenth century and into the contemporary era, an achievement managed by just one other eighteenth-century British travel account – Dr. Johnson's Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland (1775)– and that work did not enjoy comparable success in its own time. Yet Lady Montagu's Letters was not the first book of (secular) travels published by an Englishwoman. That distinction belongs to Elizabeth Justice's A Voyage to Russia (1739), which notably saw two editions more than twenty years before Lady Montagu's Letters. This essay discusses the history of Justice's volume, the contents of the book and gives some critical anaylsis. Read the whole article by downloading here...

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