History of Guide Books
The first comprehensive travel guide book published in Europe was Rheinreise von Mainz bis Köln by Fr. Röhling in 1828, which was written in German. A year earlier, Karl Baedeker (1801-1859) had set up a book publishing business in Colbence (Koblenz), and in 1832 he took over the Röhling book publishing business and later that year, published the above book in French, titled, Voyage du Rhin de Mayence à Coblence. In 1836, John Murray (1808-1892) an English book publisher, published his first travel guide titled, A Handbook for Travelers on the Continent. This book was to have inspired Karl Baedeker so much, that he started to publish more travel guides.
According to the book, Baedeker's Reisehandbücher by Alex W. Hinrichsen (1832-1990), apart from the above mention French title, Karl Baedeker published four German titles, Rheinreise, Moselreise, Holland and Belgien in the 1830's. From 1840, both Karl Baedeker and John Murray began to publish more travel guide titles for the continental Europe travel market, but in the respective language, and for Karl Baedeker, also in French. There was much collaboration between in Murray and Baedeker, and from the Murray's Handbooks archives can be found many letters to Murray from Baedeker. Much of the earliest Baedekers were German translations of Murray's titles published in English.
From the 1850's the relationship between the two began to deteriorate. Baedeker was feeling that Murray's titles were not being kept up to date. Baedeker was also receiving demands in many quarters to produce his guides in English, but held back because of a prior agreement with Murray that they would not compete with each other in each others language for guides in the same region.
After Karl Baedeker's death in 1859, his son Ernst Baedeker (?-1861) took over the business. Ernst Baedeker wrote to Murray concerning the publication for English language editions for The Rhine and Paris. Murray wrote back saying that he was happy about the The Rhine being published since this was Karl Baedeker work, but wanted to jointly work on a guide for Paris. So in 1861 came The Rhine, the first Baedeker publish in English and the only Baedeker jointly publish by Baedeker and Murray. John Kirkpatrick (1835-1926) was the editor for The Rhine and all other English language editions until 1881.
After the death of Ernst Baedeker, his younger brother, Karl Baedeker Jnr. took over the business and started competing against Murray by publishing a English language series of Baedekers. In the late 1860's, Karl Jnr. was joined by his younger brother Fritz as a junior partner. From this time and into the 1870's, both the Baedeker brothers and Murray expanded their titles. In 1878 Baedeker published their first title for the English travel market, it being London and it's Environs.
In the mid 1880's Fritz took over the business and under his leadership, took Baedeker to the top of the travel guide market for English language series. A major part of this success was due to James Findlay Muirhead (1853-1934), who took over from Kirkpatrick in 1881 as the editor of the English language editions of Baedekers, and worked for Baedeker until 1914. It was in this period that the name Baedeker became synonymous with the term travel guide. Even though Murray Handbooks lost out with the battle with Baedeker, they were able to add titles for the far East of Asia, which Baedeker never covered.
In the early 1890's Ernst Baedeker published his first Guides for the American travel market travel The guides were for the Untied States and Canada. America had been for a long time the domain for the Appleton publishing company. Daniel Appleton ( - ) had published his first travel guide in the mid 1840's.
In the 1880's Thomas Cook entered the European travel market and Baddeley Thorough Guides entered the Great Britain travel market. Before the century was out Ward, Lock and Co. entered the fray. Baedeker dominated the travel guide market right up to WW1. After the war, one more publisher of note entered the travel market. This was James Findlay Muirhead (1853-1934), the pervious editor for the Baedeker English language editions and his son Findlay Muirhead (1860-1935) with their Blue Guide. In 1915 the Muirheads' acquired the rights to John Murray's Handbooks
Listing of Guide Books
Below are featured the Guide Books that I consider the best. There are others Guide Books of note, that I will add at a later date, by they have only a few titles at most.
Author: Appleton (Daniel) - Publisher: Appleton, Philadelphia (1846) and New York
- Appleton's American Guide, from 1846
- Appleton's Railway & Steam Navigation Guide, from 1858
- Appleton's European Guide Book, from 1872
- Appleton's Handbook of American Travel, from 1873
- Appleton's General Guide, from 1879
Author: William Wellington - Publisher: Appleton, New York
- Appleton Railroad & Steamboat Companion, from 1848
- Appleton Southern & Western Travelers, from 1850
- Appleton Northern & Eastern Travelers, from 1852
- Appleton Eastern & Middle States, from 1861
Author: Karl Baedeker - Publisher: Karl Baedeker, Coblence
Author: Fritz Baedeker - Publisher: Karl Baedeker, Coblence
Author: Karl Baedeker - Publisher: Karl Baedeker, Coblence & Liepzig (1872)
Author: Ernzt Baedeker - Publisher: Karl Baedeker, Liepzig
- Baedeker's Guide, from 1832.
For listings, please see the sites below
Baedeker Datenbank und Kenner-Referenz which is the ultimate online reference for the pre WW2 Baedeker series.
Baedeker's Old Guide Books which features a full listing of the English language editions and old maps from some of these editions.
Black's Guide Guides
Author: Adam & Charles Black - Publisher: A. & C. Black, Edinburgh & London (1889)
- Black's Picturesque Tourist of England & Wales, from 1847
- Black's Picturesque Guide to Wales & Monmouthshire, from 1851
- Black's Picturesque Tourist of Scotland, from 1859
- Picturesque guide to Wales, 1870
- Black's Guide (English counties)
- Black's Guide (European countries & regions)
Author: James & Findlay Muirhead - Publisher: Macmillan, London (Hachette, Paris) & Ernest Benn Limited, London (1930)
- Blue Guide, from 1918
Cooperation existed between Blue Guide and Guides Blues by Hachette, between 1918 and 1930.
Author: Thomas Cook - Publisher: Thos. Cook & Simpkin Marshall, London
- Cook's Guide, from 1879
Publisher: Hachette, Paris
- Guides Bleus
- Guides Joanne
Cooperation existed between Guides Blues and Blue Guide by Macmillan, between 1918 and 1930.
Author: John Murray - Publisher: J. Murray, London
Publisher: Edward Stanford
- Murray's Handbooks, from 1836
From 1915 James & Findlay Muirhead (Blue Guide) acquired the rights
Ward, Lock's Guides
Publisher: Ward & Lock, London
Publisher: Ward, Lock & Bowden, London (c.1896)
- Ward Lock's Guides, from 1893
For listings, please see the site below
Ward Lock Red Travel Guides which is online reference for the pre WW2 Ward Lock series.
The information presented on this page could not have been written without referring to information found on the following websites or book.
Baedeker Datenbank und Kenner-Referenz: I would like to acknowledge the author of this site, as the main source for the introduction found on this page. He contacted me in 2004, after I had launched my map site, Baedeker Old Guide Books. He made me aware of Hinrichsen's Baedeker's reference book and the Hinrichsen numbering system.
Baedeker's Guidebooks - A Checklist of English Language Editions 1861-1939: Written by John R. Gretton, Published, 1994, Dereham Books, Dereham, NFK, England. I would like to acknowledge the author of this book, as a source of information about the Baedeker's Guides and Murray's Handbooks, and the relationship between these two publishing houses in the mid 19th century.
Baedeker Verlag: The modern Baedeker publishing house.