Account of Turkey and Crimea by a leading lady of her day
A Journey through the Crimea to Constantinople.
In a series of letters... to his Serene Highness the Margrave of Brandebourg, Anspach, and Bareith. Written in the year 1786. London G.G. and J. Robinson 1789
First edition, 4to, pp.[vi], 327, [1, directions to the binder]. With a folding map and 6 engraved plates, 1 of which folding. A very good copy in contemporary speckled calf, neatly recased. Faint rubbing to extremities, light foxing to first few leaves. A couple notes to margins by a previous owner.
Atabey 297; Blackmer 424; Weber II 614
A fascinating account by Elizabeth Craven (1750-1828), a leading lady of her day, made up of letters to her then illicit partner Charles Alexander, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1736-1806). Craven was a controversial figure: at the age of 16 she had been forced to marry William Craven, 6th Baron Craven. Both were open about the numerous affairs they had with different partners and their dislike for each other. They split permanently, while still married, when Elizabeth was just 29 and already mother of seven children. It was not long after that she and Alexander started their relationship, but they could only marry in 1791 after William Craven died. These letters were written and published before their official partnership, only adding to the scandal that followed her name. So controversial was she that even Queen Marie-Antoinette snubbed her presence along with most women conscious of their reputation. This was her first work on travel, previously being prolific in writing comedies and plays. The language is refreshingly conversational in tone, with Craven stopping in her narrative to appreciate art and her surroundings. She is unintentionally humorous at times: looking down her nose at Moscow as "a large village", or being ambushed by an expatriate lady now living in Russia who "almost smothered me with kisses" for the sight of seeing a fellow Englishwoman.