Messrs. Thomas Cook and Son have been frequently requested by their friends to supply an account of the origin and progress of their business. They consider its fiftieth anniversary, in the year 1891, a fitting occasion for complying with that request. I undertook to write the story for them, and the necessary documents were placed in my hands. If it be alleged that the firm's name appears too often in the following pages, it may be replied that this was inevitable owing to the business itself being emphatically a personal one. It has been doubted whether any member bearing the name of Cook is now connected with the firm. Examples are given in the last chapter of misapprehensions on this head. Readers of this work will learn the authentic facts, and it is probable that the work itself, in addition to communicating much novel information, will render it more difficult for an impostor to succeed in personating one of the firm or to be accepted as belonging to it.
Before they went bankrupt in 2019, Thomas Cook & Son had been in business since 1841. Starting with one man arranging a day-trip by train for Temperance campaigners, by the year of its fiftieth Jubilee, the company had opened an office on Broadway, invented Telecommuting (with real Telegraphs), started their own international bank, gained the monopoly for travel on the River Nile, provided logistical support to the British Empire in their fight against Muslim counter-revolutionaries, made Cockneys a common sight in Paris, dramatically improved conditions for Muslims undertaking their pilgrimage to Mecca, and gave a well-known French writer the inspiration to write about a man travelling around the world in eighty days. (Mr Thomas Cook took 222 days when he attempted the feat).