Over the Range with Samuel Butler (and Some Remarkably Persistent Gnats)

In 1882 Samuel Butler published Alps and Sanctuaries of Piedmont and the Canton Ticino, a charming travel guide to the little-known churches, villages and alpine ranges of southern Switzerland and northern Italy, which he visited annually. In 2012, PhD student Julia Powles put Butler’s words to the test, retracing his footsteps along 376km of alpine routes, and documenting her journey in words and pictures, just as Butler did. This illustrated talk shows Julia’s views captured in 2012 alongside Butler’s sketches and photographs from the late 19th century, and reflects on the experience of using Butler’s guide book as a traveller in the region today.

Julia Powles is a former student of the University of Western Australia, the Australian National University, and the University of Oxford, and a current graduate student at St John’s College, Cambridge, researching for a PhD in Law in the field of Intellectual Property. Her interest in Samuel Butler is very much an extra-curricular pursuit. During 2012 Julia spent hours in the Old Library at St John's, researching the Samuel Butler Collection and gathering material to help her plan the trip that forms the topic of this talk.

This talk was given at the second Butler Day, on Saturday 12th January 2013.