These are the Best Locations on Your Literary Tour of England
I don’t read too many books, but when I choose one to invest time and energy, it is usually written by a Brit. Perhaps their long lineage of literary genius and expertise is why I choose them over other nationalities, or maybe because the chances of being entertained is highly more likely with their prim and proper prose. So let’s go on a literary tour of England that myself and my fellow blogging bff’s and explore some of the most influential and impactful authors throughout the centuries.
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Take a Literary Tour of England To These Incredible Locations
Jane Austen – Bath
Bath is one of the UK’s most beautiful cities. Although Bath dates from Roman times, many of the buildings today were built around the Georgian period. Back then, Bath was one of the UK’s top destinations for the high society of the day, who would spend several months there at a time, attending parties and socializing.
We know a lot about Bath’s society at the time from Jane Austen’s much-loved writing. Jane lived in Bath for several years and it featured in some of her stories, mainly Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, although she didn’t always look on Bath (and its inhabitants) favourably.
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Today you can walk in Jane’s footsteps through modern Bath. You should make your first stop the Jane Austen Centre which has talks and displays on Jane’s life, especially the time she spent in Bath. Dressing up at the end of the tour is mandatory ;-). Pick up a Jane Austen trail map from the centre to help you find other places mentioned in Jane’s books, including some of the houses that Jane lived in.
Visiting the nearby Bath Assembly Rooms is a must. Here you can try to visualise the gatherings that Jane and her heroines attended. The attached Fashion Museum is a good place to see fashion through the ages, including several pieces hundreds of years old, and some dating from Jane’s time.
Whether or not you visit Bath to learn about Jane Austen, you’re sure to find it to be a fascinating city.
Jane Austen’s Hampshire and Oxfordshire
Fans of Jane Austen should not only visit Bath as mentioned above, but also head to Oxfordshire and Hampshire where the author lived most of her life and wrote many of her novels. A wonderful stop on your literary tour of England, here you will discover the pretty-as-a-picture home counties of England that inspired her famous stories. In this part of the world the villages a collection of thatched roof houses set amongst rolling green hills divided by hedgerows. It is exactly how you picture the England of Jane’s books.
Jane Austen was born in the tiny village of Steventon where her father was the local rector. You can can visit the church where he delivered his sermons and gaze out over the fields and country pathways that became the setting for so many familiar scenes.
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Jane lived in Steventon for 25 years before the family moved to Bath. She returned to the area with her mother and sister Cassandra after her father’s death. They settled in a cottage in Chawton, Hampshire, close to her brother’s estate, and it is from here that Jane wrote and published her novels.The cottage is now home to the Jane Austen House Museum dedicated to the author’s life and it is well worth a visit. You can even see the desk Jane wrote on and take a stroll in her garden.
Winchester is the nearest big city and it was here that Jane spent her final days. She was buried in the magnificent gothic cathedral. You can pay your respects at the memorial inside.
Agatha Christie – Torquay
Located in the southwestern coast of England, the resort towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham are popular tourist destinations. For obvious reasons, these towns comprising the borough of Torbay are situated around a natural harbour facing the English Channel eastward. Noted for its sandy beaches, warm climate and an abundance of recreational facilities, Torbay is known as the English Riviera.
Torquay’s other claim to fame was that Agatha Christie was born (in 1890) and spent her early years in this town. With 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections tucked under her belt and the creator of the famous fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, the queen of whodunit mysteries needs no further introduction. Among her notable works include Murder on the Orient Express, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Death on the Nile, The Murder at the Vicarage, Partners In Crime, to name a few.
In honour of its famous daughter, the town offers the Agatha Christie Mile tour. It will take you to some places associated with the writer. Seven commemorative plaques await to be discovered along the way. Other attractions in Torquay include Kents Cavern, an important Stone Age site; Living Coasts which is Britain’s only coastal zoo; Torquay Museum which contains geological, archaeological and other collections of significant importance. Also, the district of Babbacombe with its miniature Babbacombe Model Village, Babbacombe Downs with its stunning coastal views and Oddicombe Beach accessible via Babbacombe Cliff Railway.
C.S Lewis- Oxford
Close your eyes, use your imagination and a walk through Oxford is like walking through the wardrobe door straight into Narnia. C.S Lewis, author of the world-famous Narnia series, was an undergraduate at Oxford, and then returned as an English Fellow at Oxford University’s Magdalen College.Lewis wrote the Narnia series during his tenure as tutor at Magdalen, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you can find glimpses of the city in his books, glimpses that you can still find today… if you just know where to look. Luckily as a life-long Narnia nerd and an ex-Oxford grad, I had a lot of time to delve into the places that inspired Lewis, but you can see it all in a day trip to Oxford. From the old cloisters in Magdalen College, whose carvings are said to have inspired the frozen animals in the later books, to a large door on St Mary’s Passage decorated with intricate wooden carvings including a pair of fauns (hello Mr Tumnus), I’d spend many a day hunting out spots that feature in the book.
Love Narnia and heading to Oxford sometime soon? I’d definitely suggest that you do the same.Once you’re done, finish up with a pint in the Eagle & Child pub – in the very spot where Lewis used to meet with his fellow Inklings: J.R.R Tolkien among them to discuss his progress with the books.
Charles Dickens – Broadstairs
Contributed by John of From Real People
The town of Broadstairs on the Kent coast is synonymous with the English author Charles Dickens. He spent many summers in the town during the 1850s and 60s, staying in Fort House that overlooks this charming, quintessential seaside town. It was in this house that he wrote his classic book David Copperfield. At some point in the 20th Century, the house was renamed Bleak House in a creative attempt to cement Broadstairs as the home of Dickens. Whether the house was actually the inspiration for the book of the same name is debatable though. Perhaps it shows the creativity of a future would-be Blogger.
Regardless of the link, Broadstairs is a beautiful little place just waiting to be explored. It lies approximately 80 miles (130 km) east of London. The town itself is a myriad of winding lanes with cute streets full of local shops, restaurants, cafes and traditional English pubs. Add in its location sitting above a picture postcard harbour, it really is the perfect place to sit and relax by the water. Broadstairs has 7 bays and some stunning sandy beaches. One of the best is Kingsgate Bay that is dominated by the castle that looks over it. If you want to check out the perfect seaside resort an easy day trip from London then this is the place to come.
William Shakespeare – Stratford-Upon-Avon
Stratford upon Avon is famous as Shakespeare’s place of birth. His family house is now on a pedestrian street with his home, a museum, gift shops and many restaurants, pubs, banks, inns etc. The most important site is his home which is setup as a period home with his bassinet, play things, his parents’ bedroom, his dad’s workshop and so much more. But that not all, the whole town is dedicated to Shakespeare including the church, the bank, the cafes, the famous Shakespeare theater, inns etc. his own adult home is destroyed but the site is preserved.
If you’re up for a full Shakespeare immersion, is Stratford upon Avon is the place to be. But that’s not all, there is so much more, for example – Stratford upon Avon, the river where the town gets its name. It’s the most picturesque sight one can imagine – with the beautiful river, the Queen’s swans, the trees, walking paths and grassy fields. Do bring a picnic and plan to spend the day in Stratford upon Avon.
Margaret Oliphant – Windsor
When most tourists think about the history of Windsor, they think immediately about Windsor Castle, but the town of Windsor is also the home of important nineteenth-century literary figure Margaret Oliphant. She was born in Scotland and also lived in England and Italy. She moved to Windsor to be near her sons while they attended Eton College following a series of family tragedies and lived there for over thirty years. As the breadwinner for her family after the death of her husband, she turned her already successful literary career into one that could sustain her family financially.
She wrote over a hundred and twenty novels, books, short stories, and literary articles. She is a controversial literary figure today, with some critics relegating her to the role of domestic novelist while others find her works important to the development of Victorian literature. Her works continue to remain in print and to be adapted for television and radio. Her most famous works, Miss Marjoriibanks and Hester, are the most often reprised. When she lived in Windsor, her house was named Clarence Crescent, but it has been renamed since as Oliphant House and is still standing. Drop by when you’re in the city to honor her legacy.
Beatrix Potter – The Lake District
With the release of the Peter Rabbit movie this year, the Lake District is sure to be hopping with Beatrix Potter fans. Here are a handful of places where you might catch a glimpse of Jemima Puddle Duck or Mrs Tiggywinkle. Hilltop Farm was Beatrix’s first property, bought with the proceeds from Peter Rabbit, but she had already been visiting the District for more than 20 years. She first visited with her family as a teenager and spent time at Wray Castle with her mentor, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley.
He went on to co-found the National Trust (which now looks after the 15 farms and 4,000 acres of land in Beatrix’s estate).
Nearby, the town of Hawkshead is home to the Beatrix Potter Gallery, which displays a collection of the author and illustrator’s original drawings. It was also the office of Beatrix’s husband when they met. Their home, Castle Cottage, is across the road from Hilltop Farm and not open to the public. Across the beautiful Lake Windermere, The World of Beatrix Potter is an interactive attraction with short films, a live show, and even an interactive walk to introduce you to, or wrap up your time in, the Lake District.
Sophie Kinsella – London
So my adoration for chick lit is now admitted in one the web. And who would blame me with the talented works of the London-born incredible stories of Sophie Kinsella? This chick lit phenom has penned some of my favourite books including the Shopoholic series which I could instantly relate to when I was testing my fate with credit cards. This author from the 20th and 21st century is the youngest of this lot and is still publishing best sellers for me to take along with me for the dismal, yet peaceful commutes to and from work.
Sophie was born in London. One of my favourite spots on this literary tour of England as it is also where I can mingle with Charles Dickens, emulate Shakespeare at the Globe theatre, and relive the moment when Paddington bear arrived on the Tube. Another one of her books will be hitting the theatres soon and a new book is in the works. I better get hubby to makes some room on his book shelves for these chick-friendly fables I think….
A great start for your literary tour of England, check out these wonderful spots when in the UK. You will become well-read, or perhaps a new closet bookworm. And no better way than with some of the best authors who have ever lived and those who continue to bring brilliance in the writing world. After you check these spots out, there are hundreds more incredible notables who have penned classics over the years hailing from the UK. Your literary journey has only begun…
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