Recollections of an Excursion to the Monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha. By the author of “Vathek”. London, Bentley, 1835.
First Edition. 8vo, (213 x 128mm), frontispiece portrait and pp. [iii]-xi, [i], 228, bound without the half title, text a little foxed and browned, in contemporary or slightly later half calf over marbled boards, spine lettered in gilt.
One of Beckford’s most readable and entertaining works, his Recollections of an Excursion to the Monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha is an idealised compression of several visits to Portugal into one single twelve-day journey, based on diary notes made during a visit in 1794 - a trip during which he did not actually visit Batalha at all. However, it was his visits to Batalha which enchanted him and which inspired him in his designs for Fonthill Abbey, even though his impressions were not published until so many years after the event.
‘[Beckford’s] Recollections of an Excursion to the Monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha is a charming, heavily humorous concoction... some biographers rate this short piece as his finest writing, and it is indeed a delightful evocation of a lost world, authentic in detail even if contrived in construction’ (Timothy Mowl, William Beckford: Composing for Mozart, 1998, pp. 217-300).