Victorian Popular Fictions 2: 1 1 Costantini

Women Travellers to Albania in the Long Nineteenth Century: Two Case Studies

Mariaconcetta Costantini


This essay takes a specific sub-category of Victorian travel writing – the travel reportage written by women who visited Albania in the long nineteenth century – to demonstrate the pervasive influence of nineteenth-century tropes associated with popular fiction. Little known to Britons and stereotyped in terms of savagery and violence, Albania was part of the so-called “Turkey-in-Europe” associated with the alluring mysteries of Ottoman culture. By examining two authors who visited Albania in different periods, Emily Anne Beaufort and Mary Edith Durham, this essay invites reflection on these women’s construction of their public personæ as well as on their dialogue with the popular culture and literature of their times. Worthy of notice are especially Beaufort’s and Durham’s oscillation between factuality and imagination, their negotiations with the contemporary print market and the widening readership, their revision of Byronic Orientalist clichés and their appealing use of themes and strategies drawn from popular literary genres and modes, such as the adventure romance, the sensation novel and the Gothic.

Key Words

Travel writing; travel tropes; popular fiction; sensation fiction; Gothic; nineteenth-century women travellers; Emily Anne Beaufort; Mary Edith Durham; Albania; Balkan images.

Date of Acceptance: 9 July 2020

Date of Publication: 13 July 2020

Double Blind Peer Reviewed

Recommended Citation

Costantini, Mariaconcetta. 2020. “Women Travellers to Albania in the Long Nineteenth Century: Two Case Studies.” Victorian Popular Fictions, 2.1: 1-23. DOI:

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