This book recovers the encounter with a "multicultural" Britain by British travellers in the Tudor and Stuart periods. When William Camden, writing in the sixteenth century, set out to write the history of Britannia, he deliberately took to the roads to discover it first-hand, and those diverse cultures guided and informed his journeys. Here, John Cramsie offers original perspectives on Camden's multicultural Britain through the study of British travellers and their narratives. We meet characters such as the Tudor traveller John Leland, who intended to tell the peoples of England and Wales about themselves; chronicle how they came to settle the towns, villages, valleys, and mountaintops they called home; record the marks they left in the landscape; and celebrate the noble histories and cultures they created. Dozens - eventually hundreds - of Britons shared the same passion to meet their island neighbours and relate their experiences. The individuals studied in this book include actual as well as armchair travellers and those who blurred the boundaries between them. Their letters, diaries, journals, and histories range from the epic, poignant, and matter of fact to the exotic, preposterous, and hateful; the sources include actual and imaginative narratives and those which combined both elements. Travellers painted Britain with, in Leland's words, native colours that were rich, vibrant, and, above all, complex. Their remarkable journeys are the story of how Britons over two centuries met, interacted, and attempted (or not) to understand one another. Written with an eye to debates about immigration and ethnicity in today's Britain, the book emphasizes the long history of making and remaking the island's cultural mosaic. The encounter with Britain's native colours has been a burden of history and opportunity for millennia, not simply for our own times.
JOHN CRAMSIE is Associate Professor, Department of History, Union College, NY.