Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Brambleton Hall

Brambleton Hall. Matthew Squire’s country residence, an imaginary estate near the real town of Abergavenny, Wales. Throughout the novel, it serves as the basis of comparison for the new places the family experiences and comments on in their letters to friends at home. Smollett, himself a Scotsman, liked Wales and used Welsh characters in other novels. Choosing a Welsh protagonist like Matt provided Smollett with a not-quite-foreign outsider from a simple, rustic background to serve as witness and commentator on city life versus country life, tradition versus change, and England versus Scotland, while not alienating his English audience, who generally felt an affection for the Welsh that they did not feel for the Scots.

The family’s journey ultimately ends where it begins, at Brambleton Hall, leaving the family content with their lives in the country, far from the city’s squalor and squander. Coming full circle, their journey thus represents a symbolic joining of estranged countries into a unified, peaceful whole while rejecting rapidly evolving urban social values in favor of traditional rural virtues.


*Bath. Elegant English resort town and site of a natural mineral hot spring renowned for its reputed curative waters and fashionable clientele. Bath is the family’s first major stop. The socially conservative Smollett practiced medicine in Bath and uses Matt’s letters to excoriate the unhygienic bathing practices and the mingling of social classes at...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Bouce, Paul-Gabriel. The Novels of Tobias Smollett. London: Longman, 1976. The best study of the totality of Smollett’s fiction. The author, a distinguished French scholar, shows how all of the novelist’s interests converge in this last novel. Discusses the formal, thematic, and historical aspects of each of the novels.

Martz, Louis L. The Later Career of Tobias Smollett. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1942. Relates Smollett’s work as compiler and editor during the 1750’s to his later creations, particularly The Expedition of Humphry Clinker. An advanced and scholarly study, revealing how a gifted writer turned factual dross into fictional gold.

Price, John Valdimir. Tobias Smollett: The Expedition of Humphry Clinker. London: Edward Arnold, 1973. A brief and intelligent interpretation of the novel for the beginning student. Discusses many of its elements form a variety of critical approaches, all in a clear, concise manner.

Sekora, John. Luxury: The Concept in Western Thought, Eden to Smollett. Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977. The most exhaustive book-length study of The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, arguing that its politics, history, structure, and characters are informed by the important idea of luxury. Regards the book as “the most successful conservative attack upon luxury written in any genre during the 1750’s and 1760’s, a pearl in a generation of sand.”

Smollett, Tobias. The Expedition of Humphry Clinker. Edited by Thomas R. Preston. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990. The authoritative source for all levels of student. Provides a definitive text, valuable period illustrations, an elaborate introduction, and exhaustive annotations.