Edward Donovan

“Mumble Lighthouse” Donovan, Edward, 1805. Descriptive excursions through South Wales and Monmouthshire: in the year 1804, and the four preceding summers.

"Mumble Lighthouse” Donovan, Edward,1805. Descriptive excursions through South Wales and Monmouthshire: in the year 1804, and the four preceding summersLondon: Printed for the author (BUR 00468, volume II)

Warner is not the only writer of this period to write from a very personal point of view, producing guidebooks in the form of contextualised anecdotes rather than bald facts. Edward Donovan (1768-1837), for example, was an Anglo Irish writer best known as prolific author of natural history books; he was also a skilled artist and etched and engraved the plates for all of his works.

Descriptive Excursions through South Wales describes Donovan’s travels through South-west Wales and Monmouthshire and includes thirty-one plates of views and antiquities encountered on his journeys. His intention was to:

“survey the scenery of a country abounding in the most romantically wild and delightful situations… to muse over those hoary remnants of antiquity that are still extant… and above all, to become acquainted, only in a remote degree, with the manners of a people…”

What he probably did not envisage becoming acquainted with when he set out from Ogmore Castle one hot, sultry day was:

“a formidable troop of females…coming down from the adjacent villages, to enjoy the pleasures of bathing in the open sea in the cool of the evening… in the very same predicament as the chaste Diana and her attendant fair, at the moment the youthful Actæon gazed upon the secret haunts of the goddess: and through the glade the fountains fill’d with naked nymphs surveyed” Sadly there is no illustration of this encounter…