Stanford University Press logo
Background image: Lake Albano, A Painting by Thomas Jones (1777). This landscape painting depicts travellers on horseback by a pictureque lake. The painting has been treated to highlight the travellers in keeping with the theme of the book. Treatment for background painting, highlighting the travellers in the painting.

A World Made by Travel

A World Made by Travel wordmark.

The Digital Grand Tour

The Digital Grant Tour (image)

In the eighteenth century, tens of thousands of travelers journeyed to Italy on the Grand Tour. These travels in the age of Enlightenment contributed to a massive reimagining of politics and the arts, of the market for culture, and of ideas about education and leisure. A World Made by Travel combines —in dynamic format— original research with data and visualizations about the lives and journeys of 6,007 travelers. It reveals the diverse experiences, elite and otherwise, that collectively constituted the eighteenth-century Grand Tour.

This digital publication transforms the foundational Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701–1800 (published by the Paul Mellon Centre [PMC] and compiled from the Brinsley Ford Archive held at the PMC) into an interactive and data-rich interface. It introduces more than a thousand new figures, including hundreds of women, servants, workers, and Italians not previously represented among the Dictionary’s primary headings. This digital Grand Tour is more inclusive, and it addresses and invites vital questions about a historical phenomenon that has long been studied with a focus on the most elite and well-known of travelers.

A World Made by Travel is framed by introductory chapters explaining its digital approach, contains exemplary essays by leading scholars who worked with its data, and offers resources designed to help teachers bring this wealth of new material into the classroom. At its core is the Grand Tour Explorer, a groundbreaking interactive database containing raw downloadable data, visualizations, and documentation. This digital Grand Tour argues for the historical and continuing significance of eighteenth-century travel to Italy by showing it in a new light and with unprecedented granularity. By opening up pressing questions of scale and representation, it models how digital approaches that involve shareable data can facilitate original research and generate new knowledge about the past.

Giovanna Ceserani is a professor of Classics and, by courtesy, of History at Stanford University.