Old books come alive in London-a vacation for the whole family
Authors find their inspiration from the surroundings. If you love great works of fiction or want to understand the works at a new level, you’d love to take a London literary tour. From Chaucer to Dickens, Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf, London has provided inspiration (and a home) to some of the English language’s greatest writers. You can venture a walk on your own and explore at your leisure or you can sign up for an organized walking tour.
Here’s what you’ll see:
This is the country’s greatest book repository. It’s the home of over 150 million items, including original manuscripts by Jane Austen, the Brontës, Lewis Carroll, Angela Carter, and James Joyce, among many others. The library also features stations that allow users to access electronic copies of rare manuscripts, including Lewis Carroll’s original Alice’s Adventures Under Ground and William Blake’s notebook. For lovers of literature, there are hours of good, nerdy fun to be had here.
For more details about the library’s holdings, a list of its hours, and more transportation information, see the British Library profile
BLUEPLAQUES marks the headquarters of the Bloomsbury Group, a loose collection of writers, artists, and economists, including Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, and John Maynard Keynes, who met here in the early 20th century.
If you’re a Charles Dickens fan you’ll want to visit 48 Doughty Street, the home of Charles Dickens from 1837 until 1839, and now a museum. Here, Dickens wrote Oliver Twist and completed The Pickwick Papers. Said to be the last surviving London home of the novelist, the house contains his study, manuscripts, original furniture, and other personal items.
4. Take a Break — Fitzroy Tavern
Make some time for a reasonably priced pint in this quaint old pub, part of the Sam Smith’s chain, where Dylan Thomas and George Orwell once hung out. It’s at 16 Charlotte St., W1 (tel. 020/7580-3714).
Founded by Edward the Confessor in 1065, Westminster Abbey holds monuments and tombs of everyone from Queen Elizabeth I to Charles Darwin. Though the church and the cloisters are worth exploring, writers will gravitate to Poets’ Corner, which is located in the South Transept. Here you’ll find the tombs of luminaries such as Chaucer, Browning, Dickens, and Tennyson, among others, as well as memorials to Milton, Keats, Shelley, Dylan Thomas, and Henry James.
See the Westminster Abbey site for a list of hours.
From Westminster, it’s an easy walk to the historic Charing Cross location of Foyle’s Bookshop. Founded in 1903 by two brothers who had failed their civil service exams and were amazed by the response to the ad they placed to sell their textbook. Foyle’s has been at this location since 1906. Regulars have included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, G. B. Shaw, and Walt Disney.
Over 100 years after Sherlock Holmes still captures readers’ imaginations when he first gained popularity in the pages of Strand Magazine, his London still is sometimes shrouded in fog. London is now a very modern city with many roads that little resemble the cobblestone streets and narrow lanes of Holmes’ era.And you can still visit historic areas throughout the city. These include the site where 221B Baker Street is located (it is now a museum).
Finish your day of literary delights with dinner and a show at the re-created theater of England’s most famous playwright.
If you’d like a walking tour, here are some suggestions that you might find just right for you.
Is oldest urban walking tour company in the world. It’s also the premier urban walking tour company.
Is made up of a group of dedicated professionals, who are committed to changing the relationship between travelers and the local people who deliver travel services.
Most Curious Tours are different, since its guide is an active member of the London literary scene. As a working poet, he performs his own works, as well as those of the greats from literary history
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