Literature Lovers’ Holiday in England
Writing a list about the best literary sights for your holiday in England is really hard. Not because there isn’t much to do, rather that this list is almost impossible to narrow down! We don’t want you lit-lovers to be bogged down with an abundance of information, so we’ve done the work for you and made a list of England’s best sites. Let’s go!
London: 221B Baker Street, Platform 9 3/4, Globe Theatre, and more!
Arthur Canon Doyle
All Sherlock Holmes fans know his iconic address, 221B Baker Street. Since the fictional detective’s popularity took off, fans have been flocking to London‘s Baker Street for a chance to see his home. To their disappointment, 221B did not exist. Over the years, the street expanded to include number 221 and in 1932 the Art Deco Abbey House was built there. The Abbey House actually had to hire a secretary just to deal with all of the mail that Sherlock Holmes fans sent! Don’t be disappointed that his house does not really exist – you can visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum, which is located in a 19th Century townhouse between 237 and 241 Baker Street.
Ten year old children across the world dream of receiving their Hogwarts letter. To my utter disappointment, mine never came. That didn’t stop me from trying to go through the barrier between platforms 9 and 1o at Kings Cross Station! Embedded into the wall is half a luggage trolley, so you can hold on and pretend to be going through the barrier for a shamelessly touristy photo. Located nearby is the Harry Potter shop, where you can purchase paraphernalia from the franchise, including a wand to make your cheesy photo complete.
Learn about the life and works of iconic British playwright William Shakespeare at the Globe Theater where his plays were originally performed! Take a guided tour of the museum to better understand the history and construction of the theatre itself. Also try to get tickets to a show for the full Shakespearian experience during your holiday in England.
Now a museum and literary centre, the elegant Keats House was once home to poet John Keats. Learn about his life and works through manuscripts and personal artefacts in the place where he wrote “Ode to Nightingale.” Make sure to check the events calendar and see what falls during your holiday in England. -You may be able to catch a performance, family day, or other exciting events!
Although Dickens only called Doughty Street home for two years, during his time there he wrote two of his most famous works: Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickelby. Explore the house by yourself, or take a Costumed Tour where a tour guide dressed as a Dickens period maid will give you a tour of the house.
Stratford Upon Avon: Shakespearean immersion
Immerse yourself in Shakespeare’s personal past with a trip to Stratford Upon Avon. Wander through his childhood home, Anne Hathaway’s cottage, Mary Arden’s farm, and more. There are five separate destinations for Shakespeare lovers to explore in this charming English town. Walk the paths that William Shakespeare walked, and gain an appreciation for the landscape that inspired this literary giant.
Bath: Your introduction to high society
Travel back in time with a visit to Bath, the town that inspired two of Jane Austen’s most successful novels. Visit the Austen Center, followed by tea at the Regency Tea Rooms, where you will feel like a character in Northanger Abbey. Take a guided walking tour of the city, or explore on your own and let your imagination roam. Picture what Jane Austen herself must have seen in Bath’s 18th Century high society seasons.
Oxford: Get to know the Inklings
C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien
C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are two extremely famous former Oxford students. They were actually at the university together, and both were members of the literary club the Inklings. Take a tour of the university to see the colleges where they studied, and the Eagle and Child Pub, where the Inklings used to hold their meetings.
Lake District: Literature and nature holiday in England!
My literature nerd spirit was truly in its happy place when I visited Dove Cottage in the Lake District. The former home of William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy now houses the Wordsworth Museum. Wordsworth lived here for eight happy years, along with his wife and three of their children. Other famous Romantics such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge frequented the cottage.
Beatrix Potter also called the Lake District ‘home.’ Visit her old house Hill Top, explore the scenery that inspired Peter Rabbit, followed by a visit to the World of Beatrix Potter. Complete your tour by indulging in some afternoon tea at the former home of Beatrix Potter’s mom, the Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel.
Bradford: Head for the heights … Wuthering Heights, that is!
The Bronte Sisters
The Bronte Sisters used to visit Bradford to get away from it all and enjoy the countryside. Have tea at Ponden Hall, the inspiration for Wuthering Heights, and pretend that you are a character in one of their stories on your holiday in England.
Birmingham: A visit to the Shire
J. R. R. Tolkien
Can’t get enough of Tolkien? Don’t worry, we can’t either! A visit to Birmingham will open your eyes to the scenery that inspired the Shire and forests of his famous works. Take a tour of the mill where young Tolkien used to play with his brothers, pay a visit to the Mosley Bog, and explore the “Old Forest” for a real-life glimpse into the inspiration for Middle Earth.
Kent: Medieval to modern
Starting with Geoffrey Chaucer, Kent has seen the likes of numerous literary icons. Begin your tour with a visit to the Canterbury Tales Center, where costumed tour guides will take you on a pilgrimage to Canterbury and from there on to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket. Truly experience the story on this fabulous tour.
Next, walk the paths of Charles Dickens in Broadstairs, a quaint seaside town of which Dickens said, “You cannot think how delightful and fresh the place is and how good the walks.” Dickens drew inspiration from Broadstairs and frequented it regularly between 1837 and 1859. Visit Bleak House and look out onto Viking Bay which became his muse for David Copperfiled. The town itself is full of pubs, inns, and attractions named for Dickens and characters in his stories. Make sure to check out the Dickens House and Museum, located in a cottage that was the ‘original’ Betsey Trotwood’s home!
Finally, visit Virginia Woolf’s old home Monk’s House. Meander along the preserved rooms and explore the gardens that inspired Woolf and countless other writers and artists. Be sure to check out the Writing Lodge where she did most of her work!
What are you waiting for? Pack your favourite books, notebooks to jot down inspired ponderings, and head out on your own literary holiday in England!