A Victorian Traveler in the Middle East: The Photography and Travel Writing of Annie Lady Brassey
Juxtaposing the albums of Lady Brassey, an overlooked figure among Victorian women travelers, with Brassey's travel books, Nancy Micklewright takes advantage of a unique opportunity to examine the role of photography in the 1870s and 1880s in constructing ideas about place and empire. This study draws on a range of source material to investigate aspects of the Brassey collection. The book begins with an overview of Lady Brassey's life and projects, as well as an examination of issues relevant to subsequent discussions of the travel literature, the photographs, and the albums in which the photographs are assembled. Lady Brassey is next considered as a traveler and public figure, and the author gives an overview of Brassey's travel literature, placing her in her social and political context. Micklewright then considers the seventy volumes of photographs which comprise the Brassey album collection, taking an especially close look at the eight albums devoted to the Middle East. Analyzing the specific contents and structure of the albums, and the interplay of text and image within, she explores how the Brasseys constructed their presentation of the region. While confirming some earlier work about constructions of the Orient by the British during the time, this book offers a much more detailed and nuanced understanding of how photographic and literary constructions were related to individual experience and identity within a larger British identity. The first appendix explores the illustrative relationship between the photograph albums and Lady Brassey's travel books, yielding an understanding of the processes involved in transferring the photographic image to a printed one, at a particular moment in the development of book illustration. A second appendix lists the contents and named photographers of all seventy albums in the Brassey collection. All in all, Micklewright's study makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the complex and unstable social, political and imperialist discourses in the nineteenth century.
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