Catching Up with Walking Stewart

  • Tom MoleEmail author


John ‘Walking’ Stewart (1747–1822) was a remarkable figure of the Romantic period, and one who has been almost entirely forgotten. In his seventy-five years, Stewart walked across most of the known world, tramping from India to England, detouring into Africa, travelling as far east as Russia and as far north as Lapland, and crossing the Atlantic to walk around North America. Along the way, he formulated an eccentric but fascinating philosophy, articulated in a slew of self-published books. Thomas De Quincey called him ‘a sublime visionary’ whose ‘mind was a mirror of the sentient universe’. This essay recovers some of Stewart’s key ideas from his writings while locating him in London, where he ended his days. The time is ripe to reassess Stewart’s writings because they speak to current aspirations to develop a global account of Romanticism, and to evolve a non-anthropocentric ontology. This essay therefore suggests how Stewart’s ideas resonate in the present.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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