Clara's Grand Tour

Clara's Grand Tour

3.5 (66 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

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Rhinoceroses were once considered extraordinary curiosities, the 'true unicorns' of the world. In 1741, Clara, a young rhino captured in Assam, was transported by ship to Holland where she would begin a Grand Tour of Europe to be displayed before ordinary people and the grandest of royal courts.

A rhinoceros eats up to 70 kilos of vegetation a day - two and a half tons a month - and Clara developed an uncommon fondness for sweets, beer and tobacco. In an age before railways and modern roads, the 3-ton Clara had to travel in an enormous coach drawn by eight horses. For seventeen years she journeyed across mainland Europe and to Britain where she became a great favourite of heads of state, including Frederick the Great; she modelled for scientific portraits and etchings; and she inspired poems, songs, fashions and expensive trinkets. As Clara's popularity threatened to decline, her owner orchestrated a series of recognisably modern publicity stunts: releasing news of Clara's certain imminent death, there would be a massive upsurge in interest, sympathy - and bookings. Clara eventually ended her tour in London, where she died of her own sweet tooth, a victim of bread and cakes.Glynis Ridley has wrought a sparkling portrait of this wonderful animal and the fascination and adoration she commanded, in an era that saw the rhinoceros as both the object of marvel and a challenge to both fundamental philosophical and theological beliefs.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 128 x 197 x 18mm | 240g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • pl
  • 1843541475
  • 9781843541479
  • 1,720,513

Review quote

"'The enchanting story of a rhinoceros taken on a tour of eighteenth-century Europe... Entertaining.' John Mullan, Guardian 'A jewel of a story' New Scientist; 'Wonderful' Conde Nast Traveller; 'Clara's Grand Tour is a little book with big ideas. A beautifully produced volume... Glynis Ridley approaches her whimsical subject matter with wit, affection and enjoyment, but this is also a serious work that sheds interesting light on a number of cultural and historical ideas.' Samuel Blake, Times Literary Supplement; 'Glynis Ridley's perfectly turned-out book... doesn't deal in questions, offering only an open invitation to watch, wonder and admire... No so much a biography as a jewel box of glimpses into the eighteenth-century mindset...Beautifully told.' Scotsman"
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About Glynis Ridley

Glynis Ridley was a lecturer in eighteenth- century studies at Queen's University, Belfast. She now lives in Kentucky.
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Rating details

66 ratings
3.5 out of 5 stars
5 20% (13)
4 27% (18)
3 38% (25)
2 14% (9)
1 2% (1)
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