What to see this week
Curious Travellers: Dr Johnson and Thomas Pennant on Tour
is at Dr Johnson’s House, 17, Gough Square, London EC4, until January 12 (020–7353 3745; www.drjohnsonshouse.org) Samuel Johnson (1709–84) and Welshman Thomas Pennant (1726–98) were instrumental in opening up Scotland and Wales to tourism through their published tours. Over a few decades following the Jacobite defeat, the Highlands was transformed from a terra incognita braved only by the intrepid to a fashionable destination for those in search of the Sublime, Romantic literary associations and an alternative to the well-trodden European Grand Tour.
Pennant’s A Tour in Scotland (1769) and Voyage to the Hebrides (1772)—the latter with some of the earliest visual records of the region by his ‘artist servant’ Moses Griffith (such as Inverary Castle, above)—brim with detail and descriptive passages. Pennant impressed and influenced Dr Johnson, who, accompanied by his future biographer, James Boswell, travelled north in 1773, publishing his travel-writing classic A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland in 1775.
Although known as a Scotophobe and sceptical of Ossian, Johnson was a Jacobite sympathiser interested in the culture and customs of the Highlands and Hebrides and the social effects of rapid modernisation.
The exhibition highlights the complex relationship between the two writers and
Olive Edis: Photographer is at Ancient House, Museum of Thetford Life, White Hart Street, Thetford, Norfolk, until September 14 (01842 752599; www. museums.norfolk.gov.uk) More than 60 pictures taken by the pioneering photographer between 1900 and 1955 depict a crosssection of society, from British aristocracy to suffragettes and Norfolk fishermen. Of particular note are her atmospheric photographs of the Western Front—she was the first accredited female war photographer. Arranged thematically, the exhibition includes sections on her portraiture and photographic technique—edis was one of the first to experiment with colour autochrome photography.
the differences in their character and style, including the contrasting ways in which they viewed Wales. As a contemporary critic observed: ‘Mr Pennant travels, chiefly, in the character of the naturalist and antiquary; Dr Johnson in that of the moralist and observer of men and manners.’