In 1836 John Murray published the first 'Handbook for Travellers' guide and along with the famous Baedeker series, they were one of the first examples of travel guide books ever made. The style and format of the books inspired the design of many imitators, and the influence of Murray's Handbooks can still be seen in modern guidebooks.
They became one of John Murray's most popular series of books and could be compared to the 'Rough Guide' or 'Lonely Planet' series today. They weren't just similar in terms of popularity – the handbooks were very similar in content too!
Murray's books were designed to be used by the growing middle and upper classes who travelled for leisure. They gave advice on where to stay and what to do in places around the world and were updated every few years, just like travel guides today.
Murray used to ask his friends and authors for advice on his books, and the John Murray Archive contains lots of letters from people suggesting ideas (and even corrections) for the books.
The National Library of Scotland has an outstanding collection of these original 19th century 'Handbooks for Travellers', along with early editions of the Baedeker books, which you can come in and consult.
To see the full range of early travel guide books held by NLS, including those published by Baedeker, enter 'Handbook for Travellers' in the Library's search page to see a comprehensive listing. For more information on rare and early books at the Library, visit the Rare Books section of the NLS website.
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