Scotland became an increasingly popular tourist destination during the nineteenth century and tourists wanted souvenirs and what better souvenir than a photographic image of the places visited? Creating photographs for the tourist market became a flourishing activity and some photographers excelled, notably George Washington Wilson of Aberdeen and James Valentine of Dundee who formed national and international business enterprises.
There were several factors involved in attracting tourists to Scotland but undoubtedly the greatest was Sir Walter Scott. His novels and poetry gave a romantic depiction of Scotland, especially its landscape, and this brought visitors flocking to the localities described. His epic poem The Lady of the Lake, with the action set around Loch Katrine and the Trossachs, put this area on the tourist map. In the Borders Melrose Abbey and Scott's home at Abbotsford became tourist Meccas, as did the village of Roslin, which featured in The Lay of the Last Minstrel.
This was also before developments that increased tourism. The railways were to make travel easier and a network of steamers made the remoter Western Highlands and Islands more accessible. In 1846 Thomas Cook arranged his first package tour to Scotland. Also, Queen Victoria's annual pilgrimage to Scotland and the building of Balmoral Castle maintained public interest and made Scotland fashionable. On a journey to Iona in 1840, Lord Cockburn, the famous judge, commented:
The number of foreign, but chiefly the English, travellers is extraordinary. They fill every conveyance and every inn, attracted by scenery, curiosity, superfluous time and wealth, and the fascination of Scott, while attracted by grouse, the mansion-houses of half of our poor devils of Highland lairds are occupied by rich and titled Southrons.