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Jules Verne

Around The World In Eighty Days
Tourist Travel
The Great Exhibition
Thomas Cook
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Thomas Cook Thomas Cook, the Leicester-based pioneer of tourist travel, led his first package tour around the world in 1872, the year in which Phileas Fogg and Passepartout made their own momentous journey. It was the last great challenge facing a man who had begun his business taking excursionists to Temperance rallies.

In 1869 The Daily News had written in praise of Cook saying that he was regarded by many as ‘a greater man than the Captain, his famous namesake’ because although it was useful ‘to discover Botany Bay, and to cause its adoption as a criminal colony’ it was more useful still to transport ‘your honest countrymen and countrywomen to the most elevating scenes and associations in the world… and of bringing them back heartier, happier and better’.

Cook’s party of eight set out from Liverpool on 26 September 1872 travelling on the White Star Line’s
Oceanic. Like Verne on his 1867 transatlantic crossing they encountered stormy seas and Cook, a poor sailor, suffered from sea sickness. From New York they travelled by train to Salt Lake City, Utah, via Niagara, Detroit and Chicago, seeing through the windows wolves and Sioux Indians – who, fortunately, were friendlier than those encountered by Fogg – which, Cook wrote, kept them all ‘in a state of almost constant excitement’. Cook reported that the group was disappointed by the Rocky Mountains but thought the Sierra Nevada ‘grand beyond description’ and he was amazed when they reached San Francisco to see the markets teeming with fruit so late in the season.

The crossing of the Pacific on board the paddle-steamer
Colorado was uneventful – though it was puzzling to lose a day by travelling westwards across the International Dateline (something that gave Fogg an unexpected advantage when travelling east). They arrived in Yokohama, where they received a warm welcome, and toured the city and surrounding sites by rickshaw causing, Cook wrote to his wife, ‘as much sensation as there would be in Granby Street if thirteen Japs were carried in procession’ through Leicester. They were similarly well received in Osaka and Nagasaki.

From Japan they crossed to Shanghai, caught only the briefest of glimpses of Hong Kong (having made a mix up over the steamer times) and went on to Singapore. They celebrated Christmas in the Bay of Bengal, had a slightly uncomfortable stay in Ceylon owing to the mosquitoes and humidity, and landed at Madras, India on New Year’s Day. They then sailed on up the Hooghly to Calcutta where they spent five days before travelling by private rail carriage across 2,300 miles of Indian track stopping where and when they liked. Cook’s biographer Piers Brendon writes that Cook’s religious prejudices were so engrained ‘that he could not appreciate the colourful scenes and cultural riches which have attracted tourists to India ever since’, being more concerned by their heathen behaviour and idolatry – though even Cook could not fail to be impressed by the Taj Mahal. From the Middle East, the party returned on their own to England while Cook remained to deal with the busy tourist season in Egypt and Palestine.

Although the 222-day trip deepened the rift between Cook and his more business-minded son John, who thought Cook’s religious interests jeopardised those of the tourist, Cook felt he had learnt much by the experience. He later wrote:

I have learnt the way to circumnavigate the globe; have seen what may be done and what should be avoided; what time is required and the best season for making the tour; what detours may be made to the best advantage; what are the respective denominations and the proportionate values of moneys of all the states and countries visited. In a word, I think I comprehend the whole of this ‘business of pleasure’ around the world.

Along the way he had appointed local agents, negotiated favourable rates with transit companies and hotels for future tours and, Brendon writes, because of his work ‘without doubt the firm of Cook became preeminent in the [round-the-world] field’.

You can read more about Thomas Cook and tourist travel in the readers’ guide.

Promotional poster from the Thomas Cook archive. 1902 season showing a cruise liner alpine mountains roman ruins and seaside town

Promotional poster from the Thomas Cook archive.

Promotional poster from the Thomas Cook archive. Depicting a camel with rider amongst the egyptian ruins and a steam ship on the nile
Promotional poster from the Thomas Cook archive.

Promotional poster from the Thomas Cook archive. 1901 season showing beach, town, steam ship and alpine scenes

Promotional poster from the Thomas Cook archive.

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