For the love of books, visit these places!
The British Library, London
For Fans of: Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, William Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Rare Books & Manuscripts & Historical Texts.
If you saw 5 items of the library each day, it would take you 80,000 years to see the entire collection, which explains why the British Library is the largest public library in the world by catalogued items. Open to the public, you can delve into the catalogue’s rare collections, beautiful reading rooms (for members) and explore the treasures of the library in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery – home to sacred scrolls, many historical documents including the Magna Carta, Beatles lyrics, and original manuscripts. The manuscripts are a treat, especially for books lovers who can see handwritten notes made by the authors. Visitors will get to see original manuscripts such as ‘Beowulf’, ‘The Canterbury Tales’, ‘Mrs Dalloway’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Jane Eyre’. In the middle of the library you will see the King’s Library, a six-story column home to over 65,000 pamphlets, printed volumes, precious maps and important manuscripts collected by King George III for almost 6 decades. The library also puts on many special exhibitions and has an awesome book and gift shop, home to literary inspired gifts and several books.
Fun Facts about the library:
-The Library has a collection of over 8,000,000 stamps!
-10,000,000 bricks and 180,000 tonnes of concrete were needed to complete the building.
-The basements extend to over 24 meters.
-Largest public library in the United Kingdom.
-Holdings include 310,000 manuscript items, over 4,000,000 maps, 260,000 journal titles, 60,000,000 patents and some materials that are over 3000 years old.
-Treasures include Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebook, The Times First Edition and the Magna Carta.
The City of Bath, Somerset
For Fans of: Jane Austen
A UNESCO World Heritage Site known the world over for its famous Roman Baths, the Georgian city of Bath was home to the famous novelist, Jane Austen, between 1801 and 1806. Much of the city’s foreboding architecture remains the same from the streets and yards described in Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. Be sure to visit the Jane Austen Centre, which is set in a beautiful Georgian town house, only a few doors down from where she used to live. Here you are treated to such sights as costumes, original manuscripts and film scripts. Once educated all things Austen, head for the Regency Tea Rooms for a spot of tea and a cake before dropping into the souvenir shop.
Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire
For Fans of: Shakespeare
Stratford is a beautiful English town where many come to see the birthplace of the UK’s most famous and celebrated playwright, William Shakespeare. The market town attracts millions of visitors every year and is renowned for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, New Place (his final home) and Nash’s House, a museum. Visitors will get to travel back in time as they explore the beautiful Tudor buildings and thatched cottages. Anne Hathaway’s cottage (pictured above) as well as the Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare was baptised and buried remain popular tourist attractions. Only a train ride away from London, Stratford has something to offer every Shakespeare fan.
For Fans of: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson
Edinburgh was designated the first UNESCO city of Literature in 2004 and is world renowned for it’s literary connections. The city has a rich literary history and was the former home of literary greats such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Muriel Spark and Sir Walter Scott. The centre of the city displays the biggest monument dedicated to a writer in the world. The Scott monument is dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, considered by many to be Scotland’s greatest writer. Founded in 1446, the Scottish city has been featured in numerous movies, including Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Must sees for book lovers include the Rosslyn Chapel, and elaborately decorated place of worship that has inspired many writers such as William Wordsworth, The Scottish Poetry Library and The Scottish Storytelling Centre. Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh. Even though he left for London and then eventually Europe, many argue that the city of Edinburgh greatly influenced his literary works. The Sailsbury Crags are said to be a backdrop for The Lost World and his most celebrated, adapted and famous book, Sherlock Holmes was based on a character he met at the Royal College of Surgeons. Don’t forget to visit the bronze statue of Doyle which stands proudly in Picardy Place.
The Lake District, Cumbria
For Fans of: Beatrix Potter
if you loved Peter Rabbit as a child you must visit this beautiful part of Northern England and experience the magical world of Beatrix Potter. The famous children’s author spent many of her own childhood holidays in the Lake District, becoming a huge influence on her world-famous stories. Once successful, Miss Potter purchased Hill Top in the village of Ambleside, basing many of her books on the nearby farm, the house itself and it’s beautiful and magical garden. Beatrix would often visit nearby Lake Windermere, where her cousin Edith lived and is now home to the Lake District Visitor Centre. The entire district is also a haven for nature lovers. Beautiful lakes, rivers and mountain tops are the perfect place to get rid of those pesky cobwebs that fill the mind. Other must-visits for Potter fans include the Tower Bank Arms pub, brought to life in a sketch of Jemima Puddle-Duck as well as the enchanting Yew Tree Farm, which Potter once owned herself. If you still aren’t Pottered out, head to the stunning Keswick and Derwentwater, which formed the backdrop for several books and beloved characters such as Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Benjamin Bunny and Squirrel Nutkin!
For Fans of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien
Oxford has produced some of the finest literary writers and academics the world has ever known. JRR Tolkien spent most of his adult life here, first as a professor of Anglo-Saxon studies at Pembroke College, University of Oxford where he wrote ‘The Hobbit’. He later became a professor of English Literature at Merton College. Fellow fantasy writer, C.S. Lewis, who knew and spent many the hour with Tolkien in the Oxford Writer’s Group, also had a strong connection to the city having lived here until his death. Other famous writers who have studied, lived and taught in Oxford include, Oscar Wilde, W.H. Auden, William Golding, Phillip Larkin and John Betjeman. Many literary adaptations have also been filmed across the colleges, including Harry Potter! To get the most of the city’s literary vibe head to two of these pubs, The Eagle and Child on St. Giles, home of a literary discussion group frequented by Tolkien and Lewis or The Lamb & Flag where Graham Greene was a regular. Alternatively, take a college tour and see where some of the most famous and well-respected writers of the English world nurtured their ideas.
Bloomsbury and the Blue Plaques of London
For Fans of: Charles Dickens, Virginia & Leonard Woolf, Percy & Mary Shelley, T.S. Eliot, John Maynard Keynes, Lytton Stratchey and E.M. Forster.
Bloomsbury is a wonderful part of London, which you should devote a few hours to exploring and bring a book to read in many of its squares. The area is world-renowned as being home to famous artists, writers and intellectuals, especially the members of The Bloomsbury Group: Virginia & Leonard Woolf, Vanessa & Clive Bell, Lytton Strachey, E.M. Forster and T.S. Eliot. The area is a literary heaven, full of bustling coffee shops and beautiful boutiques but one of the district’s highlights are it’s blue plaques. As you walk, look out for them, which mark the homes of literary greats such as Virginia Woolf (50 Gordon Square) and 87 Marchmont Street where Percy & Mary Shelley once lived. Alternatively just laze on the grass of Gordon, Tavistock or Russell Square and read until you weep and sleep. You will be among the greats!
Whitby, North Yorkshire
For Fans of: Bram Stoker
Irish author Bram Stoker frequented the fishing town of Whitby and found inspiration for his world-famous horror novel from the eerie overlooking cliff tops, misty skies, the imposing abbey and old cobbled streets. It sounds terrifying, right? If you visit Whitby for the day or for a literary weekend be sure to join the Bram Stoker Dracula Experience guided tour. The Tour is filled with interesting and random Stoker trivia and spooky stories. You will also have a chance of seeing the colossal 56-kilo cape Sir Christopher Lee wore in the second Dracula film. Whitby is a pretty little town, full of life and character with winding streets to explore and the gothic ruin of Whitby Abbey. If you are feeling brave enough, visit St Mary’s Churchyard. In the mist you’ll feel like you are actually in a horror movie! The town is also home to the Bram Stoker International Film Festival, which takes place every October.
West Yorkshire & The East Lancashire Pennines, England
For Fans of: Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte
Heathcliff! Heathcliff! Yes, the rugged and gothic looking moors of West Yorkshire and the East Lancashire Pennines were home to the most famous literary sisters in the world. Charlotte, Anne and Emily Bronte lived in the sleepy village of Haworth from 1820 to 1861. The wild and beautiful landscape of this region in Northern England inspired some of their most famous novels, including Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Emily’s Wuthering Heights. Visitors can see the dramatic landscapes their novels described for themselves by going on the 43 mile walk, the Bronte Way, that goes through Haworth, the gorgeous Pennines and Oakwell Hall. On your visit, explore the three sister’s former home, now the Bronte Parsonage Museum, which features hundreds of their personal possessions and interesting exhibitions that cover their fantastic and literary lives. Also visit the Bronte Falls, where you can enjoy a drink and a fabulously British picnic and see the nearby rock chair, where Charlotte is said to have often meditated. This part of the world is designated for WILD book lovers.
For Fans of: Leonard & Virginia Woolf and Members of the Bloomsbury Group.
This lovely part of rural Sussex is home to Monk’s House, a tranquil 17th-century weatherboarded cottage, which was once home to Leonard Woolf, literary critic and author and his wife Virginia, who needs little introduction. Here you will be able to see the house almost as they left it, as well as the beautiful garden, which contains a mix of orchards, flowers, lawns and ponds. The house is home to over 700 items including an exquisite collection of painted furniture by Virginia’s sister, Vanessa Bell and her lover Duncan Bell; several pictures of Vanessa & Quentin Bell, Roger Fry, E.M. Forster and other members of the Bloosmbury Group and various other memorabilia, including Virginia Woolf’s writing desk and a beautiful Chinese shawl gifted to her by Ottoline Morrell. Visitors will be able to visit the place where some of Virginia Woolf’s most famous works were penned including, Mrs. Dalloway, To The Lighthouse and The Waves.