Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

ON THE NILE: In the Golden Age of Travel by Andrew Humphreys

  • Written by  Mick Herron
  • Published in Books
ON THE NILE: In the Golden Age of Travel by Andrew Humphreys
01 Sep
2015
‘Most wonderfully oriental and novel to English people,’ was the verdict of Miss Riggs of Hampstead on visiting Cairo in 1869, one stop on a whirlwind tour organised by the young Thomas Cook

Cook’s early ventures into tourism had involved transporting some 570 workers from Leicester to Loughborough for a temperance meeting: an 11-mile railway trip.

This more ambitious enterprise was the first step in what was to be his most pioneering development in the field of mass travel: altering the perception that travel was a male pastime. Presenting himself as ‘the travelling chaperone’, he enabled the Miss Riggses of the age to reach places they would otherwise never have seen.

The places themselves altered too: those first trips down the Nile employed dahabiyas – shallow, flat-bottomed boats, big enough to accommodate a library and a piano, and which required preventive sinking upon being hired, to rid them of rats and other vermin. By the time Cook was done, steamships were patrolling that same route.

Humphreys’ beautifully produced account of tourism’s golden age is largely the story of what became of Cook & Son, from its internal politics to its ties to government and the British Army – in 1884 all tourist activity was halted, as Cook’s steamers were commandeered by the Gordon Relief Expedition, a hiatus which was followed by the launching in 1888 of a fleet of ‘floating palaces’ so grand that bathrooms were included in the fare, instead of being optional extras.

If tourism is imperialism by other means (‘Cook simply owns Egypt’ as Blackwood’s Magazine put it in 1899), then Humphreys’ account is of an empire’s rise rather than its traditional decline and fall.

ON THE NILE: In the Golden Age of Travel by Andrew Humphreys; The American University in Cairo Press; £20.40 (hardback)

This review was published in the September 2015 edition of Geographical Magazine

Subscribe to Geographical!

Geographical Week

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

University of Winchester

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Human Game – Tackling football’s ‘slave trade’
    Few would argue with football’s position as the world’s number one sport. But as Mark Rowe discovers, this global popularity is masking a sinister...
    Essential oil?
    Palm oil is omnipresent in global consumption. But in many circles it is considered the scourge of the natural world, for the deforestation and habita...
    When the wind blows
    With 1,200 wind turbines due to be built in the UK this year, Mark Rowe explores the continuing controversy surrounding wind power and discusses the e...
    The green dragon awakens
    China has achieved remarkable economic success following the principle of developing first and cleaning up later. But now the country with the world's...
    Mexico City: boom town
    Twenty years ago, Mexico City was considered the ultimate urban disaster. But, recent political and economic reforms have transformed it into a hub of...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Exhibitions

Annual photography competition at the Natural History Museum celebrates the…

Exhibitions

We all have to live with buildings, but getting the…

Books

by Bruno Latour • Polity Books • £12.99 (hardback)

Books

edited by Fearghal O’Nuallain • Summersdale • £9.99 (paperback)

Books

by Francis Fukuyama • Profile Books • £16.99 (hardback) • £14.99 (eBook)

Books

by Pascal Bruckner • Polity Books • £16.99 (hardback)

Books

by Kevin Begos • Algonquin Books • £20.99 (hardback)

Books

by Karl Schlögel (translated by Gerrit Jackson) • Reaktion Books • £18 (hardback)

Films

Space race biopic tries to uncover the real Neil Armstrong,…

Exhibitions

Four new galleries at Royal Museums Greenwich explore Britain’s maritime…

Books

by John Foot • Bloomsbury • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Deborah Baker • Chatto & Windus • £25 (hardback)

Books

By Lucy Seigle • Trapexe • £12.99/£6.99 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin • Pelican • £8.99 (paperback)

Books

by Christoph Baumer • IB Tauris • £30 (hardback)

Books

by Charles Lane • River Books • £40 (hardback)

Books

by Graham Hoyland• William Collins • £20 (hardback)

Books

by Dr Lucy Jones• Doubleday Books • £19.99 (hardback)

Books

by Daniel Pinchbeck• Watkins • £9.99 (paperback)

Books

by Jasper Winn • Profile Books • £16.99 (hardback)