Philips D (2011) Mapping literary Britain: Tourist guides to literary landscapes 1951-2007. Tourist Studies, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 21-35, ISSN 1468-7976
This is the first journal article to address the use of literary figures in the promotion of tourism. Examining the interface between literary criticism and popular understandings of literature, Philips shows how literary guides to Britain perpetuate the literary canon established during the first half of the twentieth century and how the authors and the sites selected for these guidebooks are framed by a nostalgia for a nineteenth-century pre-industrial, rural world.
Through a close textual analysis of literary guidebooks to Britain from Bill Brandt’s Literary Landscapes (1951) to the current edition of the The Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide (2007), Philips' research shows how these guidebooks employ structural and rhetorical strategies to situate writers in a dehistoricised and rural construction of English literature and of Britain. By drawing a connection with Leavis’ seminal work The Great Tradition, Philips examines how these literary guides engage with historical literary tropes to reinforce a hierarchy of sites and authors in the tourist gaze.
Concluding that the literary pilgrimage has been constructed as much by literary critics and writers as it has by tourist professionals and the editors of literary tourist guides, the article concludes that these guidebooks serve to construct a view of literary Britain as ‘timeless’, and as a place that turns its back on modernity and change.