The Baedeker family owned a travel guide business when they started it in 1888. The family continued the business for several generations, but the business suffered after the son was killed in World War I. British nationalism labeled Baedeker’s travel guides as “instruments of German war effort.” However, the Baedeker family remained intact and two of the company’s editors acquired the rights to Murray’s Handbooks and produced their own series of travel guides called Blue Guides. These publications quickly became the leading series of guide books through the rest of the 20th century and are still being published today.
The main goal of Baedeker’s guidebooks was to free the traveller from the need to look outside the book. This was done by incorporating an unprecedented level of detail into the guide. The Baedeker’s Ultimate Guide was published in 1885. Its author, Mariana Starke, was a travel writer who recognized the growing numbers of Britons traveling abroad after the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
A major flaw of Baedeker’s work was that he aimed to free the traveller from the need to rely on outside sources for information. The guidebook was based on the style of John Murray’s guidebooks, but with more detailed information than most people could ever hope to find elsewhere. The result was a massive world guide that was both beautiful and informative. A Baedeker’s book has a great reputation for its detailed maps and information.