Take a tour around Literary England
England is lucky to have a rich and long literary heritage which has made the country’s literature world-famous. What could be better than to celebrate our famous authors than taking a journey in their footsteps. Here’s my guide to the very best that Literary England has to offer.
Beloved children’s books
It’s as a child that we truly fall in love with reading and there are a certain few authors that are arguably responsible for making us a nation of book lovers. Enid Blyton is easily one of the most prolific writers this country has produced and much of her inspiration is still around for all to see in Dorset. To experience life with the Famous Five, take yourself to Brownsea Island which is now owned by the National Trust and was the inspiration behind Blyton’s ‘Whispering Island’. Corfe Castle was also the basis for Kirrin Castle and is also home to the Ginger Pop Shop, which sells a wonderful array of Blyton books, memorabilia and even the Famous Five’s favourite treats!
Heading north from Dorset, take yourself to the small town of Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, to find yourself amongst another true literary icon, Roald Dahl. Here you’ll find the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre which celebrates Dahl’s life and the way his books helped shape today’s children’s literature. My favourite part of this museum is Roald’s Writing Hut which has been left exactly as he had it when writing all his marvellous books.
- Location: 81-83 High Street, Great Missenden, Bucks, HP16 0AL
- Opening hours: Tues-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat-Sun 11am-5pm
- Admission: Adult £6.60, Child £4.40
- Website: roalddahlmuseum.org
Nestled amongst the Lake District far in England’s north, you’ll find the spectacular world of Beatrix Potter. It’s easy to see why The Lakes inspired Potter so much, with its beautiful scenery and way of life which she sought to retain. There are many ways that you can explore Beatrix Potter’s Lake District, such as with The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction or by visiting the Beatrix Potter Gallery which houses her original paintings. Best of all is a trip to her home at Hill Top House where you’ll expect to see Peter Rabbit hiding in the garden.
Dorset isn’t just celebrated in the works of Enid Blyton. It’s most famous son is Thomas Hardy and much of the county is remembered in his books. Dorchester marks the home of Hardy and here you can visit his birthplace, his home and his final resting place.
- For more information, visit nationaltrust.org.uk
The West Country was also an inspiration for Jane Austen and in Bath, she is celebrated annually with the Jane Austen Festival which is held every September. Start your trip around Bath at the Jane Austen Centre which has fascinating exhibitions and also hosts a number of walks around the city.
- For more information, visit janeausten.co.uk
Heading North, you have to explore the world of the Bronte sisters on the Yorkshire Moors which is iconic in the Gothic tradition. A trip onto the Moors soon conjures up images of the brooding Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. You should also visit the village of Haworth, to visit the Bronte Parsonage Museum in the site of the sisters’ family home.
- Location: Church St, Haworth, Keighley, W.Yorkshire BD22 8DR
- Opening: 10am-5:30pm (Apr-Sept) 11am-5pm (Oct-Mar)
- Admission: Adult £7; Child £3.60
- Website: bronte.org.uk
The capital is a hive of activity for anyone wanting to celebrate England’s literary heritage. Home to the British Library, a wealth of bookstores along Charing Cross Road and the largest bookshop in Europe at Waterstones’ flagship store in Piccadilly, there is much to keep the bibliophile entertained. I would highly recommend booking yourself onto one of the London Literary Walks where you can immerse yourself in the worlds of Sherlock Holmes, Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolf.
- For more information, visit walks.com
London has been captured through various points in history by books and none more famous than the works of Charles Dickens. There are two ways of taking in Dickens’ London. Firstly visit his London home in Camden which has been turned into the Charles Dickens Museum before taking a trip out of the city to Kent to Dickens World, where you can literally step into Dickens’ time.
London is also magnificent for children too with its deep connection to the magical world of Harry Potter. Visit King’s Cross Station to see where Harry left for Hogwarts via Platform 9 3/4 and next door the stunning St. Pancras Station which featured in the Chamber of Secrets. You can also visit the Reptile House at London Zoo to see where Harry first became aware of his magical abilities. Take a short trip out the city to the wonderful Warner Bros studio where you are taken into the world of Harry Potter on film.
- For more details, visit wbstudiotour.co.uk