A peasant in peaked hat and blue shirt, with trousers rolled up high above his bare knees, crossed the road and silently examined the tricycle. “You have a good horse,” he then said; “it eats nothing.” —from An Italian Pilgrimage
The 1880s was an exhilarating time for cycling pioneers like Elizabeth and her husband Joseph. As boneshakers and high-wheelers evolved into tandem tricycles and the safety bike, cycling grew from child’s play and extreme sport into a leisurely and, importantly, literary mode of transportation. The illustrated travel memoirs of “those Pennells” were—and still are—highly entertaining. They helped usher in the new age of leisure touring, while playfully hearkening back to famous literary journeys. In this new edition, Dave Buchanan provides rich cultural contexts surrounding the Pennells’ first two adventures. These long out-of-print travel memoirs will delight avid cyclists as well as scholars of travel literature, cycling history, women’s writing, Victorian literature, and illustration.
"[T]he books and articles penned by the Pennells rise to the level of literature. Elizabeth did most of the writing, while Joseph, a lithographer, contributed detailed illustrations of their wanderings."
"In the airy, self deprecating style of Robert Louis Stevenson, an American couple captured the imaginations of UK and US readers through the five illustrated cycle-travel books they created beginning in the 1880s. Yes, bikes existed back then—they were all the rage, in fact—and Elizabeth and Joseph Pennell succeeded in bringing the leisure touring idea to the forefront through their jaunts aboard a tandem tricycle outfitted with luggage racks.... Cycling historian Dave Buchanan contributes an enlightening introduction which grounds the couple in the literary/art world of the late nineteenth century and gives a gearhead sense of bicycling history. But Elizabeth’s delightful prose steals the show..."
"Cycling historian Dave Buchanan contributes an enlightening introduction which grounds the couple in the literary/art world of the late nineteenth century and gives a geared sense of bicycling history."