About this Edition

About this Edition

By the time that Samuel Glover published A Description of the Valley of Chamouni, in Savoy in 1819, the so-called ‘valley of wonders’ – site of some of the most spectacular Alpine landscapes in western Europe, and of its highest mountain, Mont Blanc – was well established as a place of great scientific importance and as a key attraction for tourists and travellers seeking the mountain sublime. [1]  Glover’s Description took its place amongst a plethora of contemporary guidebooks and personal travel narratives. It is distinguished from these, however, by its close connection with two high-profile episodes in the recent cultural history of Chamonix-Mont Blanc. The first of these – less familiar to scholars of romanticism today – was the very popular exhibition at 20 Frith Street, Soho, of relief models of the area by the sculptor Jean-Baptiste Troye, Swiss emigrée and father of the American painter Edward Troye. The second – rather more familiar to scholars of romanticism – was the ongoing controversy surrounding the inscriptions left in the registers of various hotels and tourist sites around Chamonix by Percy Bysshe Shelley, in July 1816, in which he declared himself an atheist, a democrat, and a philanthropist. This edition re-situates Glover’s Description in the context of eighteenth-century and romantic-period writing about Chamonix-Mont Blanc and details its connections to Troye’s exhibition and to Shelley’s inscriptions. It also attempts to solve what is now the mystery of who Samuel Glover might have been: hardly any information about him survives, and what few details are available are all connected with Description. The first edition of 1819 has been used as copy-text and all original spellings have been retained. Where possible, textual and visual sources broadly contemporary with Description have been used in the editorial commentary in an attempt to provide the reader, to the greatest extent possible, with a sense of Chamonix-Mont Blanc as it was known in Glover’s day. Where it has been possible accurately to identify them, digital mapping techniques have been employed to locate the sites and sights which Glover describes. In this way, the present edition itself lays claim to being a kind of ‘description’ of the valley of Chamonix and its cultural significance in the romantic period.

Where they are available, biographical dates for historical individuals have been supplied.


Throughout the editorial commentary, the abbreviations Description and SG are used for the author and his text. Numbers in curly brackets {} indicate the pagination of the copy-text. A facsimile of the first edition of Description is available here: https://books.google.dk/books?id=WP-5uvvVYL0C

The following abbreviations are also used:

Abrégée Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, Relation Abrégée d’un Voyage à la Cime du Mont Blanc (Geneva, 1788); facsimile available here: https://books.google.dk/books?id=iTBiAAAAcAAJ
Coxe Henry Coxe, The Traveller’s Guide in Switzerland (London, 1816); facsimile available here: https://books.google.dk/books?id=xLdfAAAAcAAJ
Ebel Johann Gottfried Ebel, The Traveller’s Guide Through Switzerland, ed. Daniel Wall (London, 1820); facsimile available here: https://books.google.dk/books?id=Qug6AAAAcAAJ
Inundation Samuel Glover, A Description of the Inundation of the Valley of Bagnes in Swisserland (London, 1818).
Lemprière John Lemprière, A Classical Dictionary, 7th edition, corrected (London, 1809); facsimile available here: https://books.google.dk/books?id=_KsTAAAAYAAJ
Murray John Murray (ed.), A Hand-Book for Travellers in Switzerland and the Alps of Savoy and Piedmont (London, 1811); facsimile available here: https://books.google.dk/books?id=ekQNAAAAYAAJ
Pictet Hans Conrad Escher von der Linth, ‘A Description of the Val de Bagne, in the Bas Valais, and of the Disaster which befell it in June 1818’, transl. Marc-Auguste Pictet, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, 4 (October 1818), pp. 87-95.
Raffles Thomas Raffles, Letters During a Tour (London, 1818); a facsimile of the third edition (1820) is available here: https://books.google.dk/books?id=CItTAAAAcAAJ
Relation Marc-Théodore Bourrit, Relation of a Journey to the Glaciers in the Duchy of Savoy, translated by Charles and Frederick Davy, second edition, (London, 1776); facsimile available here: https://books.google.dk/books?id=wbQ2AAAAMAAJ
SWT Mary and Percy Shelley, History of a Six Week’s Tour (London, 1817); facsimile available here: https://books.google.dk/books?id=u1YJAAAAQAAJ
Troye Jean-Baptiste Troye, A Short Account of Mont Blanc and the Valley of Chamouni, now Exhibiting in Models, in Relief, by J. B. Troye (London, 1819).
Voyages Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, Voyages dans les Alpes, 4 vols. (Geneva, 1796-1808); facsimile available here: http://lhldigital.lindahall.org/cdm/search/collection/earththeory/searchterm/Saussure!Alpes/field/creato!title/mode/all!all/conn/and!and/order/nosort
Windham William Windham and Peter Martel, An Account of the Glacieres or Ice Alps in Savoy, in Two Letters (Ipswich, 1747).

About the Editor

Cian Duffy is professor and chair of English literature at Lund University, Sweden. His research concerns various aspects of the intellectual life and cultural history of the late eighteenth century and romantic period. Publications include: Romantic Norths: Anglo-Nordic Exchanges, 1770-1842 (Palgrave, 2017); Percy Bysshe Shelley: Selected Poetry and Prose, ed. with Jack Donovan (Penguin 2017); The Landscapes of the Sublime, 1700-1830: Classic Ground (Palgrave, 2013); Romantic Adaptations: Essays in Mediation and Remediation, ed. with Peter Howell and Caroline Ruddell (Ashgate, 2013); Cultures of the sublime: selected readings, 1700-1830, ed. with Peter Howell (Palgrave, 2011); The Poems of Shelley, volume 3, ed. with Jack Donovan, Kelvin Everest, and Michael Rossington (Longman, 2011); Shelley and the Revolutionary Sublime (Cambridge, 2005); and a range of articles and chapters dealing with the work of Percy Bysshe Shelley.

About the Design

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[1] EDITOR'S NOTE: The quotation is from the Note which introduced Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘Hymn Before Sun-Rise, in the Vale of Chamouni’ on its first publication in The Morning Post for 11 September 1802. Quoted from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Complete Poems, ed. William Keach (London: Penguin, 1997), p. 562. BACK