The Mythology of Tourism

The Works of Sir Walter Scott and the Development of Tourism in Scotland

by Lingwei Meng (Author)
©2018 Thesis 370 Pages
Series: Scottish Studies International, Volume 42


Scott’s influence on Scottish tourism is widely discussed among scholars. However, only a few have provided a holistic analysis of the relationship between Scott and Scottish tourism from the 19th to the 21st Century in a theoretical framework. This book reveals how the myth of Scott has been created and appropriated at different stages of the development of the Scottish tourism industry by drawing upon Roland Barthes’ analysis of myth. The study is largely based on an analysis of 110 travel accounts and 48 guidebooks written between the 1770s and the 2010s. The author argues that Scott’s influence on the Scottish tourism industry is strongly ensured by a wide participation of various actors in continuously changing forms.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgments
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Abbreviations
  • 1. Introduction
  • 1.1 Literature Review
  • 1.2 Research Questions
  • 1.3 Tours before The Lady of the Lake
  • 1.4 Scott’s Role in the Scottish Tourism Industry
  • 1.5 The Methodology of This Research
  • 2. Scott and Mythology
  • 2.1 The Concept and Function of Myth
  • 2.2 The Mythologisation of Scott in the Scottish Tourism Industry
  • 2.2.1 Myth Creation in Scottish Tourism in the Romantic Era
  • 2.2.2 Myth Appropriation of Scott in Scottish Tourism in the Victorian Period
  • 2.2.3 Myth Appropriation of Scott in Scottish Tourism in the 20th and 21st Centuries
  • 3. Scott as a Promoter of Scottish Tourism in the Romantic Period
  • 3.1 Scott’s Protagonists as Mediators of Scotland
  • 3.1.1 James Fitz-James as a Scottish Traveller in Scotland
  • 3.1.2 Edward Waverley as an English Traveller in Scotland
  • 3.1.3 Vanbeest Brown as an International Traveller in Scotland
  • 3.2 Scott’s Role in the Development of Scottish Tourism
  • 3.2.1 Scott as Myth Participant
  • 3.2.2 Local Guides as Myth Participants
  • 3.2.3 Romantic Tourists as Myth Participants
  • 4. Scott and the Guidebook Industry in the Victorian Period
  • 4.1 Scott as Represented in Black’s and Murray’s
  • 4.1.1 Scott as Represented in Black’s
  • 4.1.2 Scott as Represented in Murray’s
  • 4.2 Comparison of Scott in Black’s and Murray’s
  • 5. Tourist Practices: Tourists as Readers of Scott and Myth Creators
  • 5.1 Tourists as Readers of Scott and Authenticity Seekers
  • 5.1.1 Tourists as Readers of Scott
  • 5.1.2 Tourists as Authenticity Seekers
  • 5.2 Tourists as Performers and Myth Creators
  • 5.2.1 Tourists as Performers
  • 5.2.2 Tourists as Myth Creators
  • 6. Post-Scott Tourism and Disneyfied Scott-land
  • 6.1 Post-Scott Tourism
  • 6.2 Disneyfied Scott-land
  • 7. Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Appendix Tables

← 8 | 9 →

List of Figures

← 10 | 11 →

List of Abbreviations

← 14 | 15 →

1.  Introduction

The thesis commences with the three excerpts quoted above, which strongly reflect the relationship between Sir Walter Scott and the development of Scottish tourism. Each excerpt corresponds to a development stage of the Scottish tourism industry. The first excerpt corresponds to the rise of Scott’s influence on Scottish tourism in the Romantic era; the second excerpt to the peak of Scott’s influence on Scottish tourism in the Victorian period; and the third excerpt to the implicit influence of Scott on Scottish tourism in the 20th and 21st Centuries. In the first excerpt, Spence advises the prospective travellers to arrange carriages and accommodations in advance should they travel in the Trossachs, because an increasing number of travellers had been crowding the intriguingly popular spot since the publication of The Lady of the Lake in 1810. Spence’s advice brings to light the theme that Scott contributed to the development of Scottish tourism. The Lady of the Lake, together with his other poems and novels, is employed by Scott as means to popularise Scotland. Thomas Cook, in the second excerpt, uses Scott to promote his package tours to Scotland, advertising Scotland by the utilisation of Scott’s work in his guidebooks to attract travellers; which was also a significant phenomenon in the tourism guidebooks of the Victorian period. In the last excerpt, Stuart Kelly is inescapably influenced by Scott due to the latter’s cultural omnipresence. It appears Kelly is, in his everyday life, bombarded with countless bits of information about Scott. Underlying his perception is the emerging new media strategy to promote Scotland with Scott as an iconic image.

These three excerpts warrant a consideration of the deep connection between Scott and the development of the Scottish tourism industry in different stages. I will discuss how Scott created a myth for the Scottish tourism industry in the Romantic era, and how this myth was reinforced by the guidebook industry and through tourist practices in the Victorian period. Furthermore, I will examine how the myth is appropriated by Scottish tourism promoters and politicians in the 20th and 21st Centuries. ← 15 | 16 →

1.1  Literature Review

Before examining the relationship between Scott and the development of the Scottish tourism industry, an overview of previous research studies is necessary. I will begin with the analysis of the research which discusses the influence of Scott on the Scottish tourism industry in a historical view, including the articles or books from Ann Rigney; Stuart Kelly; Katherine Haldane Grenier; Alastair J. Durie; John R. Gold and Margaret M. Gold; Richard W. Butler; Christopher Smout; Murray Pittock and James Buzard; and then scrutinise studies on specific topics, for example Ian Brown’s discussion of Loch Katrine and the Trossachs; analysis of the protagonists of Scott’s works by Nicola J. Watson, George G. Dekker and James Buzard; work on tourist practices by Barbara Schaff; and work on Abbotsford by Nicola J. Watson and Alastair J. Durie. It’s my purpose to show where I have drawn from previous research, and draw attention to the differences between my study and the key research in my field.

In The Afterlives of Walter Scott (2012), Ann Rigney is primarily concerned with how the Waverley Novels permeate everyday life in different cultural domains, and how the image of Scott is transferred from one generation to another. The book starts by listing place names related to Scott throughout the world, and then moves on to examine the adaptations of the Waverley Novels in illustrations, the theatre, and material culture. According to Rigney, Scott functions as a dynamic cultural memory, and is instrumental in building Scottish national identity. Scott’s works have become memory sites for creating an imagined community almost a century after his death. Rigney provides a range of striking examples in her book, for example the naming of railways and steamships, which will be considered in this research. In Scott-land: The Man Who Invented a Nation (2010), Stuart Kelly writes some critically informal essays, examining Scott’s popularity in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Rigney’s research The Afterlives of Walter Scott is influenced by Kelly’s, as she acknowledges: “It covers some of the same ground as Stuart Kelly’s recently published essay Scott-land, in that it too is concerned with the ways in which everyday life became saturated by echoes of Scott.” (2012: 2) Like Kelly, Rigney also agrees that Scott’s influence is ubiquitous in the domestic life of the 19th Century. Rigney and Kelly are right when they take the view that Scott’s ← 16 | 17 → reputation was decaying in the 20th Century,1 but their view is a general one. When it comes to the aspect of tourism, this is another matter. Kelly’s own experience, as mentioned above, demonstrates that, unlike the 19th Century’s tourists, the tourists of the 20th Century were influenced by Scott in an implicit manner. This thesis attempts to reexamine Scott’s popularity by setting Scott in the context of the development of the Scottish tourism industry.

In Tourism and Identity in Scotland, 1770–1914 (2005), Katherine Haldane Grenier examines how Scotland as an unknown region became a popular country for tourism. Her research is built on a wide range of texts from guidebooks, diaries, journals, and the publishing press. There are some other similar studies on the development of the Scottish tourism industry. In Scotland for the Holidays: Tourism in Scotland c.1780–1939 (2003), Alastair J. Durie provides some reasons for visiting Scotland, such as the seaside, health rehabilitation and sport, making it evident that tourists visited Scotland for multiple purposes, not merely for literary amusement. His thoughtful study is based on statistics from a wide range of sources, and he is one of the few researchers who examine Scottish tourism in the inter-War period. In Imagining Scotland: Tradition, Representation and Promotion in Scottish Tourism since 1750 (1995), John R. Gold and Margaret M. Gold (Golds) study how Scottish tourism has evolved and developed from the middle of the 18th Century up to the late 20th Century. Richard W. Butler’s research Evolution of Tourism in the Scottish Highlands (1985) and Christopher Smout’s article Tours in the Scottish Highlands from the Eighteenth to the 20th Centuries (1982) examine the impact of the social changes on the development of Scottish tourism in two centuries. All these studies acknowledge Scott’s contribution to the development of the Scottish tourist industry in an overall view without recognising the features in each stage of the development. The scholars of these studies are primarily concerned with what Scott has done for the Scottish tourism industry. I will explore the reasons why Scott is influential in the Scottish tourism industry and draw attention to how the tourists, guidebook editors and tourism ← 17 | 18 → promoters contribute to consolidating Scott’s image in the development of the Scottish tourism industry.

The Reception of Sir Walter Scott in Europe (2006), edited by Murray Pittock, is the first comprehensive book to give insight into Scott’s adaptations and reception throughout Europe. Like Ann Rigney’s The Afterlives of Walter Scott, this book collects many striking examples from all over Europe, which will be included to enrich my study. One of the articles from the collection is Alastair Durie’s ‘Scotland is Scott-land’: Scott and the Development of Tourism. As implied in the title of the article, it examines Scott’s contribution to the development of Scottish tourism in an international view. The research touches upon many issues of Scottish tourism. For instance, Duries is aware that “enthusiasm for Scott was stronger and lasted longer amongst foreigners than locals” (2006: 317), but he does not go further to explain how this is. In my study, I will expand on the topic. In The Beaten Track: European Tourism, Literature, and the Ways to Culture, 1800–1918 (2001), James Buzard discusses the ideas of tourism represented by the influential writers such as Byron, Wordsworth and Henry James in the rise of the tourism industry. The research is built on a wide range of texts from travel accounts and guidebooks, contextualising the debate of tourism in a transnational background. His discussion leads me to examine Scott’s influence on the Scottish tourism industry in an international context.

Literary Tourism: the Trossachs and Walter Scott (2012), edited by Ian Brown, centres on the celebrated region, namely Loch Katrine and the Trossachs, immortalised by The Lady of the Lake (1810). The eleven essays included in this book are representative in examining what makes the poem popular, as shrewdly observed by Ian Brown in book’s introductory section: “The publication of The Lady of the Lake in 1810 was, of course, a sensation. It also, as later chapters in this volume show, created – or at least reinforced, enhanced, in a modern term rebooted – a curiosity, a desire to visit the locations in which its fictional action took place.” (2012:1) The essays trace the responses from tourists, authors, artists and authorities. The book acknowledges the poem has had an impact on the Scottish tourism industry, but it fails to discern the differences of the impact of the poem in different periods. Ian Thompson’s article Jules Verne and the Trossachs: Experience and Inspiration, examines Jules Verne’s first tour to Loch ← 18 | 19 → Katrine and the Trossachs in 1859, which inspired him to set the action of his novel Les Indes noires (1877) in the region. Jules Verne’s example suggests that the tourists were not passive consumers, but active participants, in that they gave new layers of meaning to the places they visited through their writings, which in turn renewed the memory of Scott. Jules Verne’s example will be included in this research.

In Holiday Romances; or, Loch Katrine and the Literary Tourist, included in Literary Tourism: The Trossachs and Walter Scott (2012), Nicola J. Watson argues that the protagonist Fitz-James in The Lady of the Lake is akin to the figure of the tourist. I will go further to point out that the image of Scotland is enhanced through Fitz-James’ tourist-like experience, in that Fitz-James’ visit to Loch Katrine can be read as the discovery of Scotland in the early stage of the Scottish tourism industry. In The Fictions of Romantic Tourism: Radcliffe, Scott, and Mary Shelley (2005), George G. Dekker reveals how romantic fictions, represented by the works of Radcliffe, Scott, and Mary Shelley, contributed to tourism. Dekker’s study involves how the travel experiences of Edward Waverley and Vanbeest Brown are related to the actual travel experience of Scott and that of his contemporaries. In the chapter entitled Translation and Tourism in Scott’s Waverley, included in Disorienting Fiction: the Autoethnographic Work of 19th-Century British Novels (2005), James Buzard connects Waverley’s touring experience with ethnographic imagination. In one chapter of The High Road: Romantic Tourism, Scotland, and Literature, 1720–1820 (1997), John Glendening studies how Smollett’s Humphry Clinker and Scott’s Waverley awakened the interest of the English readers in different ways. Although the four scholars realise that Scott’s three protagonists, i.e. Fitz-James, Waverley, and Brown, can be read as romantic travellers, they do not pay particular attention to the identities and behaviours of the three characters. In my research, I will draw close attention to the connection between the behaviours of the three characters and the behaviours of the real-life tourists from Scotland, England and Continental Europe.

Barbara Schaff’s article ‘In the Footsteps of …’: The Semiotics of Literary Tourism (2011) demonstrates the ways in which reading and touring reinforce each other. According to Schaff, the tourists are not passive consumers, but rather they are in an engagement framework with the places and authors. As she writes: “By walking along a literary trail, visiting authors’ ← 19 | 20 → birthplaces and graves, film locations, or enjoying views, tourists create their own enunciative spaces, imbuing them with never fixed meanings […].” (2011: 180) Her study attempts to examine tourist practices. In another article, Italianised Byron – Byronised Italy (2008), Schaff maintains that the performative quality of Byron’s poetry plays an important role in advocating Italian literary sites in Murray’s Handbook for Travellers in Central Italy. Scott’s works are also characterised by their performative quality, which is instrumental in developing an acute sense of Scottish literary places in Murray’s Handbook for Travellers in Scotland. Schaff’s article leads me to take into consideration the performative quality of Scott’s works in the analysis of the representations of Scott in guidebooks and tourists’ behaviours on the literary sites.

In The Literary Tourism (2006), Nicola J. Watson examines authors’ birthplaces, homes, graves, and fictional sites as tourist attractions.2 In the book, Watson devotes some pages to the consideration of the significance of the house. She studies some travellers like Washington Irving, Thomas Dibdin and Theodor Fontane who visited the house, but does not investigate the behaviours of the tourists. In the article Tourism in Victorian Scotland: the Case of Abbotsford (1992), Alastair Durie examines Abbotsford as a literary site based on statistics in an international context. In the research, he draws his attention to the tourists’ identities, but, like Watson, does not consider how the visitors behaved at the house. In this project, I will be concerned with how the tourists performed at Abbotsford, and argue that it is through their performances that they heightened the awareness of the literary site.

To sum up, most of the scholars are much more concerned about the influence of Scott on the Scottish tourism industry, but they rarely study the participants of the Scottish tourism industry, which ensured Scott’ continuous popularity in different periods. In my research, I will take into consideration the efforts of Scott himself, the local guides, the tourists, guidebook compilers, tourism promoters and even some politicians in different stages, ← 20 | 21 → and analyse how Scott is mythologised in the development of tourism in Scotland by drawing upon Roland Barthes’ analysis of myth. Barthes’ theory deals with semiotics, and reveals how the things that surround us in our everyday lives are signified and endowed with meaning. With Barthes’ theory, I point out that Scott signified Scotland with his writings and created a myth for the Scottish tourism industry. Scott’s influence on the Scottish tourism industry is strongly ensured by the wide participation in continuously changing forms. To put it more specifically, the influence of Scott on Scottish tourism in the Romantic era was ensured by the participation of Scott himself, local guides, and earlier travellers, and the influence in the Victorian period was ensured by guidebook editors and the tourists, and the influence in the 20th and 21st Centuries was ensured by the mass media.

1.2  Research Questions

In this sub-chapter, I will raise four questions concerning how Scott’s influence on the Scottish tourism industry is manifested at different stages.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (September)
Literary Tourism Scottish Literature Travel Writing Tourist Guidebooks Nationalism New Media
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien. 2018. 370 p., 4 b/w. ill., 3 b/w. tab.

Biographical notes

Lingwei Meng (Author)

Lingwei Meng obtained his Ph.D. degree in English literature at the University of Göttingen. His research focuses on travel writing, tourist guidebooks, literary tourism and Scottish literature.


Title: The Mythology of Tourism
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