Five Questions: Nigel Leask on Stepping Westward

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By Matthew Sangster

Nigel Leask is Regius Chair of English Language and Literature at the University of Glasgow. He will be well-known to readers of this blog from his many publications in the field of Romantic Studies, including the monographs British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire, Curiosity and the Aesthetics of Travel Writing, 1770-1840 and Robert Burns and Pastoral: Poetry and Improvement in Late-18th Century Scotland; the edited collections Enlightenment Travel and British Identities: Thomas Pennant’s Tours of Scotland and Wales and Romanticism and Popular Culture in Britain and Ireland; and the first volume of the Oxford Edition of the Works of Robert Burns, Commonplace Books, Tour Journals, and Miscellaneous Prose. His latest monograph, Stepping Westward: Writing the Highland Tour c. 1720-1830, which we discuss below, was published by Oxford University Press in March. His plenary lecture from BARS’ 2017 conference in York was also recently published as Philosophical Vagabonds: Pedestrianism, Politics, and Improvement on the Scottish Tour.

1) How did you come to decide that you wanted to write a book on the Highland Tour?

There’s a parallel between the genesis of Stepping Westward: Writing the Highland Tour and …read more