Britain has very distinctive national traditions when it comes to literature, from the Welsh Valleys where Dylan Thomas resided to the waters of Loch Katrine in Scotland, which inspired Sir Walter Scott’s poem ‘The Lady of the Lake’. It is easy to learn all about these great writers, see the landscapes where they grew up and discover plenty to ignite your own creativity on a trip. We’ve put together some of the highlights and trails.
For many, no playwright boasts more significance in history than the masterful Shakespeare. London’s Shakespeare’s Globe – a reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre – is still a popular venue for performances today, while in Stratford Upon Avon you can visit his illustrious home with Shakespeare’s Birthplace Tickets, to enjoy historic houses and learn about the events that shaped his life. The working Tudor farm was once home to Shakespeare’s daughter and her husband and the gardens surrounding these buildings are simply beautiful.
Scotland’s capital is a fantastic place to begin when it comes to seeking out literary history – a UNESCO City of Literature and a location that plays host to an international book festival every August. The list of authors linked to the city is extensive from Muriel Spark, Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson to JK Rowling and Alexander McCall Smith. Find out more at the Edinburgh Writers’ Museum on the Royal Mile, before making your way to the Scott Monument on Princes Street, or heading a bit further out to Scotland Street, the setting for McCall Smith’s famed novel 44 Scotland Street.
Grab a coffee at The Elephant House café where JK Rowling wrote parts of Harry Potter – it’s not surprising that she found magic in this beautiful city!
The Bronte sisters have long been revered for their works about breaking societal norms and pushing the boundaries of love. Heathcliff and Rochester have become heroes to many and the landscapes of the wild Yorkshire moors a place of heartache and romance. Charlotte, Emily, Anne and their brother grew up in Haworth, and today visitors can enjoy a museum dedicated to their memory, or ride the local steam train to step back in time.
Another novel inspired by the landscapes of Yorkshire was Count Dracula by Bram Stoker – for example Whitby Abbey provided a refuge to the vampire after he docked in the town.
Dylan Thomas’s Wales
Visiting South Wales is the best way to step into the life of Dylan Thomas and there are several sites, including the Dylan Thomas Centre, the Mumbles – a beautiful little village by the sea where you can get a bite to eat – and the Gower Way – a coastal path – that truly allow you to appreciate the landscapes that inspired his works from glorious beaches to rocky cliffs.
Literary hotspots are easy to find if you visit Britain, and if you are a writer it certainly helps to follow in the footsteps of creative geniuses.