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THOMSON, Fanny Mary.

Memoranda of a Journey to Moscow in the Year 1856.

Liverpool: Geo. Smith, Watts & Co., 1859 Stock Code: 138355
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A woman traveller in 19th century Moscow

First edition of this observant and entertaining travel account, originally published for private distribution. Decidedly uncommon, with three copies located institutionally in the UK, held at Oxford, Cambridge, and the National Library of Scotland, and a further two added internationally, held at the New York Public Library and at Yale. The National Library of Australia holds a copy of the second, public, edition, also published in 1859.

Fanny Mary Thomson (1826-1898) and her husband, Peter, a Scottish railway contractor and chief engineer for the Cheshire Lines Railway, set off from Liverpool to London in August 1856, starting their investigative and business-minded journey through Europe. They travelled from London to Calais with Peter's brother and a fellow engineer, and then on to Antwerp. From there they went through Brussels, Rotterdam, the Hague, Amsterdam (where they "were astonished to find the whole city in a state of commotion, the King of Holland having arrived on the previous day" (p.13), then onto Hanover, Berlin, Stettin and hence to Königsberg. Thomson notes that the timber viaduct by which they left Stettin was "a rough fragile affair, by no means suited to our English notions of stability; however, it carried us safely" (p. 41). They found that, in Königsberg, "no-one appeared to know anything about Russia" (Theakstone, p. 416). The Thomsons's interest inevitably piqued they purchased a carriage, spent a substantial sum on Russian visas, and proceeded to travel to Riga and onto St. Petersburg. From there they travelled again by train to Moscow, on which journey Thomson noted that "unofficially a doctor and a Russian Orthodox priest accompanied every passenger train" due to popular fears of this relatively new method of transport (Haywood, p. 468). In Moscow Fanny engaged a local guide to accompany her extensive sightseeing, all of which is richly documented in the present work. Upon returning to Liverpool Peter Thomson, elected a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers in 1867, was a key force in developing the rail infrastructure in and around Liverpool, and became Mayor of the city from 1871 until his death while still in office in 1876.

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Octavo. Original pink card wrappers with lithographic pictorial design. Housed in a custom card chemise and brown cloth solander box.


Lithographic frontispiece and pictorial title page.


Neat ink initials to front pastedown. Wrappers rubbed with loss to spine ends, nevertheless largely complete including spine lettering, spine cracked, the front cover neatly reattached, text-block lightly browned, a carefully preserved copy in good condition.


Richard Mowbray Haywood, Russia Enters the Railway Age, 1842-1855, Boulder, Colo., East European Monographs, 1998; Theakstone p. 416; not in Cross or Robinson.


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