Travel may be difficult at present, but there is nothing to stop us dreaming!
Where do you long to visit? What places do you feel will inspire you?
How about combining your passion for travel and for reading into a little literary tourism?
England is a fantastic country for those who love literature, for it has such a rich literary heritage. For my writing, living in this ‘green and pleasant land’* has been an inspiration. Over the years I have spent in England, I have visited many ‘literary locations’, and each time I have been humbled and awed and moved – and filled with new energy for my writing.
Today, I’m sharing with you some of my favourite places with literary links. Perhaps one or two will appeal to you, and you’ll be able to visit in the future. In these special spots, you can just feel the presence of such great writers whose words bring comfort and meaning and beauty.
Westminster Abbey, London
Nowhere on earth can you be close to such a plethora of writing talent as in Poets’ Corner; it’s inspiring and humbling to visit. Writers interred here include Tennyson, Robert Browning, and Dr Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling and Thomas Hardy. Those who have memorials here include John Milton, William Wordsworth, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Robert Burns, William Blake, T.S. Eliot and Gerard Manley Hopkins, to name but a few.
Shakespeare’s Globe, London
A reconstruction of the theatre in which many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed for the public, and a stunning building. While in the area, wander along to London Bridge and find Nancy’s Steps – setting for the heart-breaking murder of Nancy in Dickens’ Oliver Twist.
The Globe Theatre
The setting of Great Expectations and the home town of Charles Dickens. Here you’ll find a range of Dickens-inspired tea rooms and quaint pubs, and Rochester Castle is magnificent. Best of all, Rochester is second-hand bookshop heaven and boasts the largest one in the UK.
Rochester Castle and Cathedral as viewed from the Medway River
Home of William Shakespeare. If you get the chance, take in a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and visit Anne Hathaway’s cottage.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with the imposing ruins of Whitby Abbey and myriad cobbled streets to explore. You can take a Bram Stoker guided tour, and if you visit in October, you can catch the Bram Stoker Film Festival. A must-visit place for vampire fiction aficionados.
Whitby Abbey at sunset
Brontë country, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire
See for yourself the wild and beautiful landscapes of the south Pennine hills that inspired authors Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë and visit their home, now the Brontë Parsonage Museum. No visit to the area is complete without a hearty hike across a rugged heath where you can hear Cathy’s call to Heathcliff on the wind.
Top Withens, Haworth Moor, inspiration for Wuthering Heights
221b Baker Street, London
Home of the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes and now a museum.
The Lake District
Take some time out to explore this Area of Outstanding Beauty, which was the writing location of choice for William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Ruskin, Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome.
Buttermere, the Lakes
Literary connections abound in this city of dreaming spires. The legacies of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien are particularly strong here, and Oxford is the setting for Philip Pulman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and was home to the real Alice in Wonderland. Fit in a walk around Christ Church College and the Divinity School at the Bodleian Library too, and you’ll be magically transported to Hogwarts…
The Divinity School
* ‘Green and pleasant land’ is a reference to a line from the popular English hymn ‘Jerusalem’, whose words are taken from a poem by William Blake published in 1808 (‘And did those feet in ancient time’).
Photo credits: Poets’ corner: Carcharoth/Wikipedia; Whitby Abbey: Ackers72/Wikipedia; Baker St: Jordan 1972/Wikipedia; Lake District: Undivided/Shutterstock; Royal Shakespeare Theatre: DeFacto/Wikipedia; Haworth Moor: James Elkington/Shutterstock; Shakespeare’s Globe: Diego Delso/Wikipedia; Rochester: Clem Rutter/Wikipedia; Divinity School: Diliff//Wikipedia.