John Murray's 'Handbooks for Travellers' series was begun by John Murray III in 1836, after his own experience of travelling on the continent.
Murray's Handbooks were conceived at a time when improved transport links were making foreign travel increasingly easy and popular. His innovative guides responded to a need for detailed practical guides for new middle-class travellers.
The early Handbooks covered Europe and Britain, and by the end of the 19th century included Russia, New Zealand and Japan.
Murray's Handbooks, were greatly admired for their comprehensive coverage and detailed information.
With their red covers and gold lettering, the books became quickly recognised and famous throughout the world.
A wide range of authors and contributors were involved in producing the handbooks, including Richard Ford, whose 'Handbook for Spain' (1845) is widely considered one of the classics of the genre.
To ensure information was up to date, travellers were encouraged to write to Murray.
Notable correspondents include:
- Thomas Cook, correcting details about the Nile steamer
- John Ruskin, on Italian hotels
- Felix Mendelssohn, who recommended a hotel where he lived 'with a party of several ladies'.