Hands up who doesn’t enjoy a good book on holiday? Well, we’ve got great news for all book lovers – you can take your hobby a step further by giving your next UK break a bit of a bookish theme!
Dotted around the country are not only the homes where great pieces of literature were written, but also the stunning scenery that inspired these works. You can’t fail to be inspired by the rolling green hills of the Lake District, the wild Yorkshire moors or the golden Dorset coastline.
Westminster Abbey © cristapper
The UK’s capital is brimming with literary spots. 25,000 people visit Charles Dickens’s only surviving London home on Doughty Street every year. It’s not far from Samuel Johnson’s house off Fleet Street, a 300-year-old townhouse running events and exhibitions all year.
Keats House in Hampstead is the recently-restored Grade I listed home that inspired some of John Keats’s best poetry, and at the Sherlock Holmes museum at 221b Baker Street you’ll find the rooms are maintained exactly as they appear in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories.
Westminster Abbey isn’t just a wedding venue; you’ll also find Poets’ Corner here, the final resting place of great writers like Chaucer and Kipling. You can even get involved while travelling in London. At Paddington station you can relive Paddington Bear’s adventures, and we all know what’s at Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross. Don’t we?
Grasmere, The Lake District © Kevin Eaves
For a taste of the incredible vistas that have inspired countless writers, the Lake District is the place to visit. Wordsworth was captivated by the daffodils on the shores of Ullswater and the panoramic views over Grasmere. In this village you’ll also find the BEST gingerbread around – you heard it here first! Beatrix Potter wrote her Peter Rabbit stories in the Lakes, from her Hill Top Farm cottage in Ambleside.
In West Yorkshire and the Pennines are the wild moors and rugged countryside featured in the Brontë sisters’ works, and you can find out more about the sisters at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Keighley. Also from the north are former poet laureate Ted Hughes, Roger Hargreaves of Mr Men fame, playwright Alan Bennett and the list goes on; this region is a real hotbed of literary talent.
Broadstairs beach © Mark Castro
In Lewes, East Sussex, you can stay at Monk’s House which was Virginia Woolf’s country retreat, but far more popular is Sissinghurst Castle in Kent. This former home of Vita Sackville-West, novelist and Woolf’s sometime lover, welcomes over 150,000 visitors each year.
Also in Kent is the real Bleak House in Broadstairs, where Dickens wrote David Copperfield. Offering plush gardens and a sea view over Viking Bay, it’s now a luxury B&B and can be hired for special events; you could even get married there if the name doesn’t put you off too much.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Stratford-upon-Avon © Andrew Roland
The pretty Warwickshire town of Stratford-upon-Avon greets over 800,000 visitors every year who come to admire the five Shakespeare houses, including Shakespeare’s birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.
Also in the heart of England you can follow Birmingham’s Tolkien Trail, taking in landmarks that inspired The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Further south in Oxford, fans of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will enjoy browsing gifts at Alice’s Shop and visiting Christ Church college where Lewis Carroll worked.
Edinburgh © Shaiith
If you celebrated Burns Night at the weekend, we hope you had a great time! To find out more about the great man before next year’s feast of haggis and Scotch, pay a visit to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Ayr.
In the Scottish capital Edinburgh you can rent out Stevenson House, former home of Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson, or just enjoy pounding the streets of the city where J K Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books and where crime novelist Ian Rankin sets his Rebus detective stories.
If you’re the solitary type, Peter Pan author J M Barrie’s holiday home on the island of Eilean Shona (current population: 2) will provide you with much peace and quiet.
Seriously, this beach is in England – Durdle Door in Dorset to be exact © Terry Yarrow
Don’t miss Greenway House near Galmpton in Devon, Agatha Christie’s holiday home. This Grade II* listed Georgian mansion in the heart of the English Riviera has a large woodland garden and a secluded boathouse overlooking the River Dart. Remember to book in advance; there are lots of Christie fans out there and you might be turned away if it’s too crowded.
Over in Dorset you’ll find Hardy Country, the landscape that inspired Thomas Hardy’s best-known works. Don’t forget to visit the stunning Dorset coast!
You should also test the natural thermal waters and take afternoon tea in Bath, where Jane Austen lived and set two of her novels.
Three Cliffs Bay, Gower, Swansea © Alan Bryant
Inspiration might strike for budding authors at The Cabin in Tenby, south-west Wales, where Roald Dahl spent Easter holidays in the 1920s. This Grade II* listed building with Tenby Harbour on one side and Carmarthen Bay on the other catches the sun all day and enjoys beautiful sunsets.
You can also stay at the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley’s house Plas Tan-yr-allt on the edge of Snowdonia National Park. Yes, it’s impossible to pronounce, but that’s where booking online comes into its own. And of course, a literary trip to Wales wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the Swansea and Gower countryside, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that inspired Dylan Thomas’s best-known works.