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Verlag Karl Baedeker is a Germanymarker-based publisher and pioneer in the business of worldwide travel guides. The guides, often referred as simply "Baedekers" (sometimes the term is used about similar works from other publishers, or in reference to any kind of guide), contain important introductions, descriptions of buildings, of museum collections, etc., written by the best specialists, and are frequently revised in order to be up to date. For the convenience of travellers, they are in a handy format and in small print.

History

Founded by Karl Baedeker in 1827, the company relocated in 1872 to Leipzigmarker under his third son Fritz Baedeker, who took over control of the company following the death and disablement of his older brothers. With the widespread advent of mechanical transportation, it was Fritz who managed an explosive growth in the line of travel guides, also producing international guides. Prior to World War I, Baedeker's guides were famous enough that baedekering became an English-language term for the process of travelling a country for the purpose of writing a travel guide or travelogue about it.

World War II

During 1942, Germany launched a series of air attacks against Englishmarker cities of historical importance featured in the Baedeker Guide to Great Britain. These "Baedeker raids" were carried out as revenge for Royal Air Force bombing attacks against German cities, including Berlin.

During the years of World War II, the Nazi government commissioned publication of several travel guides of occupied regions of Europe. Among these were travel guides of Generalgouvernement (General Government, part of occupied Poland and Ukraine), and the Alsacemarker region of occupied France annexed by the German Reich.

The Baedeker company's premises and files perished in a December 1943 air raid, but Baedeker's great grandson revived the company, restarting publication of tourist guides in 1948.

Post-World War II

The publishing house joined with the insurance company Allianz Groupmarker in 1978, and many of the guides have been called "Baedeker Allianz Travel Guides" (Baedeker Allianz Reisef├╝hrer) since then. However, as of 2001, 64 titles in English and 24 in French do not carry the Allianz logo; Prentice Hall and Macmillan have published the English titles.

Influence

For 40 years (1878-1918) the Scottish brothers James and Findlay Muirhead published the English-language Baedekers. In 1918, they established the ongoing Blue Guides as heir to the great 19th century Baedeker tradition.

Purchasing a Baedeker

Internet sites such as eBay and Abe Books regularly list old Baedeker guidebooks for sale. The guides of most historical and cultural interest span the period prior to World War II; describing Europe, the United Statesmarker, Egyptmarker, Canadamarker, Indiamarker and Russiamarker in the context of the day.

Care must be taken when buying guides, with respect to their condition. It is suspected (though most of the Baedeker company's catalogue of published guides were destroyed in a bomb raid during World War II, so they are unable to confirm or deny) that a change in construction methods, with age, leads to rusting in binding staples, which rot pages, which results in the guides literally falling apart. Guides printed post-1920 are most likely to have been stapled.

Rarer books (e.g. Russia, India, Egypt, Palestine & Syria) regularly sell for quite significant sums.

Baedeker in popular culture

A Baedeker is mentioned in book and film A Room with a View; it is the guide Lucy Honeychurch reaches for when she is lost in Santa Crocemarker. It is also referenced heavily in the book, and in Where Angels Fear to Tread by the same author, E. M. Forster.

In a passage of the novel V. set in Egypt, Thomas Pynchon frequently refers to Baedeker.

T. S. Eliot published the poem Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar in 1920.

Mina Loy's first book of poetry is titled "Lunar Baedecker" (1923). Robert McAlmon's Contact Editions press misspelled the title.

Philip Pullman's Lyra's Oxford includes excerpts from a fictional "Baedeker's guide" to Lyra's Oxfordmarker.

A long overdue Baedeker is a plot device in Glen Berger's play, Underneath the Lintel.

Helen Coale Crew wrote a short story titled "The Baedeker Boy" (illustrated by Matilda Breuer), which appears in Volume 9 of The Children's Hour" From Many Lands (1953).

A Baedeker is mentioned in the novel Homo Faber by Max Frisch.

A Baedeker is mentioned in the play, Murder On The Nile by Agatha Christie.

Baedeker is mentioned on several occasions in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories of Sherlock Holmes.

A Baedeker is mentioned in the play, Everett Beekin by Richard Greenberg 2003.

A Baedeker is mentioned in the novel, Across The River And Into The Trees by Ernest Hemingway.

A Baedeker is carried by Sebastian in the 1996 screen adaptation of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night .

The Baede-Kar, an imaginary electronic guidance system, guides architecture historian Reyner Banham through Los Angeles in the celebrated BBC documentary "Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles" (1972).

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