• “Our observations should not be disunited”: Collaborative Women’s Travel Writing, 1780-1840

      Colbert, Benjamin (Universite Blaise-Pascal, France, 2016-03)
      Before 1780, only ten books of travel by women had been published in Britain and Ireland, all by single authors if we discount the role of translators (two of the ten were translations from the French)1. After 1780, as the Database of Women’s Travel Writing (2014) demonstrates with statistical accuracy, women for the first time established themselves as a continuous presence in the travel writing market, increasing their output from 5 titles in the 1780s to 74 in the 1830s2. These figures include diverse travel genres, principally narratives, guidebooks, and letterpress plate books, but also travel-based storybooks for young audiences, digests, and collections. For the first time, we begin to see female travel writers experimenting with authorial roles such as co-author, contributor, editor, translator, abridger, compiler, letterpress writer, and illustrator. In other instances, women’s travel writing finds its way into print, sometime posthumously, only through the intervention of others, editors who overlay their own language, perspectives, and agendas, a form of collaboration to be sure, but not one that embodies the joint production some might associate with the term. Of the 204 titles covered by the Database, 47 (or 23 %) involve multiple authorial relationships, though only seven of these are jointly written works where authors have coordinated their writings with the aim of publication. This article and the taxonomic checklist that follows it explore in more detail the nature of and motivations behind authorial partnerships in the light of particular instances of them, addressing fundamental questions: What types of collaboration are there, and what are the conditions of co-writing? How is joint production presented textually and paratextually? How do men and women collaborators negotiate the gendered spaces and expectations of travel and travel writing?