Reise. 1790. England

Alexander von Humboldt’s first preserved travel journal was written in 1790 during his journey to England, where he was accompanied by Georg Forster. The journal brings together observations on sheep breeding, dyeing processes, and the cloth trade, on lime kilns, basalt extraction, and cheese production. Within the botanical and geological observations, specific tendencies of Humboldt’s original cameralistic education still prevail: he compares the English with his homeland’s vegetation, provides landscape descriptions, and historical anecdotes. Formally, the English travel journal shows typical signs of a finger exercise in preparing travel notes. However, it already points to the later travel journals, such as those that preceded the American journey.

To the edited text


Dominik Erdmann

Introduction: On the New Edition of the Journal of the Journey to England (1790)

The journal of his journey to England is not only a document of one of Humboldt’s first major trips abroad: it is also a document of the young scholar’s self-education as a travel writer and researcher. For Humboldt later drew on the writing practices tested and rehearsed here when writing his extensive American Travel Journals.