Record Series - 142  



The Diary of Charles Fothergill, 1805: An Itinerary to York, Flamborough and the North-Western Dales of Yorkshire

edited by Paul Romney (1984)

 

The Diary of Charles Fothergill, 1805: An Itinerary to York, Flamborough and the North-Western Dales of Yorkshire - Record Series 142Recently discovered among the Fothergill papers now preserved in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library of the University of Toronto, Charles Fothergill’s diary of his travels through Yorkshire in 1805 provides a remarkably vivid impression of the county at the height of the Romantic movement.

The spontaneous record of a young Quaker’s impression of his native Yorkshire, this ‘itinerary’ of visits was made in preparation for a never-completed “Natural and Civil History” of England’s largest county.

Fothergill (1782-1840) was himself a member of a distinguished and long-lived Wensleydale family. In an erratic career more notable for its reckless ambition than its practical success, he “piled failure upon failure” before emigrating to Upper Canada in 1816: his voluminous papers, among which his itinerary is the outstanding item, now provide his most important memorial.

In his quest for the history, antiquities and customs of Yorkshire, there are few aspects of life in the county at the beginning of the nineteenth century which Charles Fothergill completely neglected. Although primarily a naturalist, and especially and ornithologist, it may be the author’s comments on the contemporary social scene which gives his diary its special fascination to the modern reader. Most intriguing of all is the interplay between Fothergill’s personal sensibility and his vast subject – the past and present of Yorkshire. Here is a writer who imagines the society and scenery of the Yorkshire Dales as Turner painted them.


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