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Dorothy Richardson Papers

Date range: 1761–1802.

Dorothy Richardson was born in 1748, the daughter of Rev Henry Richardson, Rector of Thornton in Craven, Yorkshire.

Between 1761 and 1801 she undertook a series of tours of England in the company of members of her family, visiting Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Bath and London.

An unmarried, highly-educated and leisured women, Richardson undertook her journeys with a high degree of seriousness and in a quest for knowledge.

She described her travels in a series of accounts, recording details of antiquarian sites, country houses, museums, manufactures, geological features and landscapes – traditionally viewed as masculine preoccupations. The accounts are illustrated with numerous pen-and-ink drawings.

In a recent study they have been described as:

“a series of writings which are neither confession nor fable, but which lie somewhere between autobiography and chronicle, history and inventory”

constituting:

"a paradigmatic case of disciplined recording that challenges received notions of travel, pleasure, gender, and knowledge in England in the second half of the eighteenth century" (Pointon, pp. 102, 124).

They provide extensive scope for cultural, social, gender, art historical, antiquarian and topographical studies.

Finding aids

  • Catalogue available online via ELGAR.
  • Recorded in published handlist of English Manuscripts (English MSS 1122–1129).
  • Marcia Pointon, Strategies for Showing: women, possession, and representation in English visual culture 1665–1800 (Oxford, 1997), pp. 89–130.
  • Zoë Kinsley, ‘Considering the Manuscript Travelogue: the Journals of Dorothy Richardson (1761–1801)’, Prose Studies, vol. 26, no. 3 (December 2003), pp. 414–31.
  • Karen Lynch, ‘Taking Great Notice: Dorothy Richardson’s Account of Ornamental Buildings on the Boynton Estate, East Riding of Yorkshire’, The Follies Journal, no. 7 (Winter 2007), pp. 1–22.

Location

The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

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