Quaint, charming, nostalgic New England: rustic fishing villages, romantic seaside cottages, breathtaking mountain vistas, peaceful rural settings. In Inventing New England, Dona Brown traces the creation of these calendar-page images and describes how tourism as a business emerged and came to shape the landscape, economy, and culture of a region.
By the latter nineteenth century, Brown argues, tourism had become an integral part of New England's rural economy, and the short vacation a fixture of middle-class life. Focusing on such meccas as the White Mountains, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, coastal Maine, and Vermont, Brown describes how failed port cities, abandoned farms, and even scenery were churned through powerful marketing engines promoting nostalgia. She also examines the irony of an industry that was based on an escape from commerce but served as an engine of industrial development, spawning hotel construction, land speculation, the spread of wage labor, and a vast market for guidebooks and other publications.
“Brown . . . writes with charm and cautionary insight about the beginnings of what has become one of New England’s major industries. . . . Inventing New England would be the perfect book to read before heading off down to the Cape, up to the lake, or . . . for a day at the beach.”—Boston Globe
“A marvelous examination of the economic, cultural, and ideological foundations of the development of regional tourism. . . . Combines the best of local history with strong thematic analysis. . . . An examplary book.”—American Historical Review
“The chapters are eye openers. . . . Few studies of New England are as perceptive in their appreciation of the complex relationships between place, time, economics, and society.”—Journal of Interdisciplinary History
“Brown provides her readers with a richer portrait of early vacationing in New England than any previous writer. . . . Inventing New England will come as a breath of fresh air to readers who have had their fill of Puritanism, the writers of the ‘flowering,’ and the victims of industrialization.”—New England Quarterly
“Along with John Sears' Sacred Places, Inventing New England ranks as essential reading for students of nineteenth-century tourism and leisure.”—Journal of Social History
“A solid contribution to the history of tourism and the understanding of tourism's cultural and economic significance. Brown's discussion of tourism as one of the earliest forms of industrial capitalism is particularly impressive.”—John F. Sears, author of Sacred Places