England: A great literary tour

By: Virgin Atlantic

March 18, 2016

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Uncover your book-inspired getaway and holiday in the footsteps of English literary greats right here in the UK. There’s something for every avid reader, regardless of age or genre. England is home to some of the world’s best-known literary greats, so come and discover where they lived and what they wrote about.

Visit John Keats’ idyllic house in Hampstead or see the house in Bayswater Road where JM Barrie wrote Peter Pan. Dr. Johnson fans can explore his home and workplace at 17 Gough Square, off Fleet Street. Or visit Jane Austen’s Bath, a honey-coloured spa town just a couple of hours west of London.

Childhood memories come alive

Got kids? Let them relive the Harry Potter magic at the actual Diagon Alley at Leadenhall Market near Monument, or catch a ride to Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross station, where students depart for Hogwarts on the Hogwarts Express. Children and adults alike will love spotting everyone’s favourite travelling bear, Paddington, who has his very own statue at Paddington station. And why not stop by Mr Gruber’s antiques shop in Notting Hill – ably portrayed by Alice’s Antiques on Portobello Road – to munch on a marmalade sandwich or two?

For an outdoor adventure, head to Ashdown Forest. It’s one of the south east’s best-kept secrets and just 40 miles outside London. Here you’ll find the real-life Hundred Acre Wood from A.A. Milne’s beloved children’s stories; Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner.

Classics to cherish

Put your detective skills to the test and follow in the tracks of Sherlock Holmes at his replica home-museum in Baker Street. Dine at the famed detective’s favourite restaurant Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, or just around the corner near Adelaide Street you can strike up a conversation with the great Oscar Wilde, where his granite monument stands.

Be sure to stop off at the legendary Langham Hotel in Marylebone, where Conan Doyle and Wilde dined with a publisher in 1889, resulting in the classic novels The Sign of Four and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Step back in time

Discover the wonder of the Charles Dickens Museum in Holborn. The museum was once home to the great author himself, and holds some of the world’s most important collections of rare editions, manuscripts and original furniture. While you’re here, stop off at one of London’s oldest pubs; The George Inn. Not only was it one of Dickens’ favourite watering holes, it was reportedly frequented by Shakespeare too. The Tabard, an inn which once stood on a neighbouring site, was where Chaucer began writing The Canterbury Tales in 1388.
A historical tour of London isn’t complete without a visit to the unique Shakespeare’s Globe in Southwark, which is just a short walk from the George Inn. Here you can watch some of the poet’s greatest plays brought to life in a beautiful oak and thatch replica of the original Elizabethan theatre.

Bloomsbury and beyond

Take a walk through Bloomsbury Square near Holborn to discover some of the famed residents of the Bloomsbury Group including Virginia Woolf, Clive Bell, E.M. Forster and John Maynard Keynes. Or venture out of the city for a peek into the life of one of our greatest ever authors, Jane Austen. For this you’ll need to travel to the south and west of England where she lived most of her life. Visit the Jane Austen’s House Museum in the village of Chawton, Hampshire, where she spent her last eight years. Or head to the Georgian city of Bath for a trip to the Jane Austen Centre, where the story of Austen’s time here is retold by costumed character guides.

Word on the street

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The rise of literary festivals in the UK has been unrelenting, with the 350+ annual events fast becoming a major feature in our cultural landscape. The Cheltenham Literature Festival kicked things off back in 1949 and has paved the way for many others across the country. So what are you waiting for? Grab a book, get reading and make a beeline for one of these upcoming events.

North London Literary Festival: 22 March 2016

The Oxford Literary Festival: 2–10 April 2016

Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, Wales: 26 May–5 June 2016

Edinburgh International Book Festival: 13–29 August 2016

Cheltenham Literature Festival: 7–16 October 2016

Time to start living your literary dreams? Book a flight to London and start turning fantasy into reality today.

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