PERHAPS IT’S A FORMER HAUNT of a favored author, the location of a classic novel’s setting, or the home of a renowned literary establishment. Whatever the specifics, there exist untold destinations throughout the world capable of breathing new life into our favorite literature.
During the course of an ongoing series entitled “Literary Treasures Here and There,” we’ll be exploring bookish destinations around the globe. For this first installment, pack your deerstalker cap, favorite tobacco pipe, and a bespoke greatcoat; we’re headed to London, England, a city steeped in rich storytelling tradition.
“London offers travelers a wealth of bookish adventures to explore.“
Exploring London’s Literary Treasures
London has played host to countless legends of the written word—William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Samuel Johnson, and the Irish-born Oscar Wilde to name but a few. It is also the fictional home of the master sleuth himself, Sherlock Holmes. Thanks to this rich literary history, London offers travelers a wealth of bookish adventures to explore.
For starters, check out one of London Walks’ literary walking tours. For a mere £10, you can explore the city through the eyes of Dickens, Shakespeare, or Wilde. If sleuthing is more your speed, you can opt instead to traverse London’s winding alleys in the footsteps of Sherlock himself.
For those who would prefer to absorb their history over a pint or two, check out the London Literary Pub Crawl. This weekly event gives crawlers the chance to visit the public houses frequented by such literary giants as Dylan Thomas, George Orwell, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, and more. As an added bonus, tours are occasionally given by Charles Dickens himself. (Or at least some actor with the chops to play Dickens, but hey, why shouldn’t we get into the ‘spirit’ of things.)
Of course, after stopping at all those watering holes, you’re going to need a place to rest your head. Though it’s currently undergoing renovation, the Cadogan Hotel in London offers guests an opportunity to stay in the very suite where Oscar Wilde was infamously arrested by Scotland Yard officers in 1895. Alternatively, why not check in at Dukes Hotel where you can savor a martini at the same bar frequented by James Bond novelist, Ian Flemming.
“As if libraries weren’t magical enough.“
As long as you’re not feeling too stirred (err . . . shaken) the next morning, consider journeying outside of London to visit the home of the Brontë sisters in the picturesque village of Haworth. Nearby, you will find an opportunity to hike the Top Withens Farmhouse Ruins—the supposed setting of the Emily Brontë classic Wuthering Heights.
Finally, Harry Potter fans will not want to miss the Bodleian Library. Located at the University of Oxford, this historic site is one of Europe’s oldest libraries and has served as the setting for the Hogwarts Library featured in the Potter films. As if libraries weren’t magical enough . . .
© 2015, K. E. Olsen | All Rights Reserved