A Canterbury Pilgrimage


About 25 years ago I discovered a rare book published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1885. It described a  journey taken by tandem bicycle during that year.

I found the book quite by chance in the rare book section at the Knight Library, University of Oregon. I was not allowed to take it from the section, so I took extensive notes. Much to my delight, I unearthed these notes this morning.

Elizabeth Robin Pennell, author, and Joseph Pennell, Illustrator, Bostonians, both, celebrated their honeymoon pedaling a tandem from Ye Old Tavern, London to Canterbury. They followed the path of Chaucer’s Pilgrims in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, at least as best they could manage. They were disappointed that some the route had changed during the passage of 500 years.

At one point, while ascending a long, difficult grade and being passed up by mule-drawn wagons and surly drivers, Joseph accused Elizabeth of backpedaling.

My bride and I owned three tandem bicycles in younger years and we remember the old adage: Wherever a relationship is going, it will arrive at the destination more quickly on a tandem  bicycle.

This book was so well crafted I was able to experience Elizabeth’s agony.


2 thoughts on “A Canterbury Pilgrimage

  1. I looked up the author and found her book ‘A Canterbury Journey’, which I downloaded for later reading. I once studied the Canterbury Tales and am now curious, how Elizabeth Robins Pennell dealt with the 500 year old tales. Best wishes! Peter


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