Masculinity and Danger on the Eighteenth-Century Grand Tour

by Sarah Goldsmith

The Grand Tour was a journey to continental Europe undertaken by British nobility and wealthy landed gentry during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As a rite of passage, the Tour also played an important role in the formation of contemporary notions of elite masculinity. Examining letters, diaries and other records left by Grand Tourists, tutors and their families, this book demonstrates how the Tour was used to educate elite young men in a wide variety of skills, virtues and masculine behaviours that extended well beyond polite society. This book argues that dangerous experiences, in particular, were far more central to the Tour as a means of constructing Britain’s next generation of leaders than has previously been acknowledged.

Background image: Pierre-Jacque Volaire, ‘An Eruption of Vesuvius by Moonlight’ (CVCSC:0259.S, 1774). By permission of Compton Verney, Warwickshire, UK and Bridgeman Images.