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The Smell of the Continent: The British Discover Europe

By James Munson and Richard Mullen

What a dreadful smell!” said the uninitiated stranger … “It is the smell of the continent, sir!” replied the man of experience. And so it was.’ – Frances Trollope Paris and the Parisians in 1835

The Smell of the Continent reveals the little-known history of early commercial tourism. Between 1814 (after the abdication of Napoleon) and the First World War, British folk set out en masse to discover Europe. Laden with kettles, carpets, desks, rubber baths and a generous portion of prejudice, they set out to discover the world across the Channel and found themselves attracted and repelled in roughly equal measure.

Written in a style that is both fascinating and entertaining, The Smell of the Continent traces the birth of modern tourism in its first hundred years and how, during that time, tourism had tangible and sometimes surprising effects on everything from hotel sanitation and passport control to (potential) monetary union.

Drawing on diaries, letters and contemporary tales, Richard Mullen and James Munson reveal how our Victorian forebears shared many of today’s preoccupations and prejudices, and laid the foundations of the modern tourist industry.

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