Charles Boileau Elliott

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Charles Boileau Elliott (1803–1875) was an English travel writer. He published 3 travel diaries in his lifetime. His best known works are Letters from the North of Europe, Travels in the Three Great Empires, and Travels in the Archipelago. All 3 books provide a unique historical account of life in those areas during the mid 1800's just prior to the wars and industrial achievements that would be coming later in the 20th century.


Elliott was educated at Harrow School and Haileybury College. He spent some time working for the East India Company. He matriculated at Queens' College, Cambridge in 1829, graduating B.A. in 1833, and M.A. in 1837. He became vicar of Godalming in Surrey in 1833, and rector of Tattingstone in Suffolk in 1838. During the writing of his most famous work, Travels in the Three Great Empires, he wrote extensively about the political, social, and economic conditions of the day in what is now Austria, Russia, Hungary, Prague, Slovenia, Crimea, Macedonia and Turkey. The book has very accurate population accounts of the day, and several little known factoids that may have been overlooked by modern history.

An arduous journey to say the least, the trip he undertook to write the famous and well known travel diary almost ended his life, as accounted in his writings, when he contracted malaria while boating down the Danube River, towards the end of his trip. The book ends with him being given his last rights by a pagan priest in Turkey, whom wishes his death to come at his bedside so he may be cleansed as a sinner against God. In a fortune turn of events, and to the priests miscalculation, he survived and it gives the book a dramatic ending. The book also gives an interesting account of the Russian belief that Crimea belongs to them, and there is mention made even back then as to the nature of this ongoing dispute.

Travels in The Three Great Empires is unique in the sense that it is one of the few, if only travel diaries written from a westerners perspective at this exact moment in history prior to the Industrial Revolution and World War I. The bold and charismatic nature of Elliott's writing is starkly vivid, and written with a sense of purpose to compare the piety of his homeland, England, with the relative barbarity of the cultures and people he is forced to endure on this trip.  Make no mistake about it, Elliot was an English nobleman, and frowned upon the poverty stricken, under-developed countries and nation states along his travels.  You see this most reassuringly when he writes about his entrance into Turkey and Russia, and the relative ignorance of knowledge and etiquette as compared to himself as an English nobleman.


  • Letters from the North of Europe (1832)
  • Travels in the Three Great Empires of Austria, Russia, and Turkey (1838)
  • Travels in the Archipelago (1840)

External Links[edit]

Travels In The Three Great Empires of Austria, Russia, and Turkey