Top 5 Real Life Literary Spots in London

August 7, 2015

London is a wonderful place to live or visit for many reasons; not least the opportunities to experience Britain’s incredible legacy of history and literature in one sprawling metropolis. Also it has Platform 9 ¾. Here are five spots in London where literary legends have left their mark.

The Keats House: In the northern area of Hampstead lies the beautiful and recently renovated house that Keats inhabited for a period of his short life. Not only is it the place he met Fanny Brawne, every poet’s dream girl-next-door, but it is reportedly under its plum tree that he wrote ‘Ode to a Nightingale’. The house occasionally hosts poetry readings and lectures which are worth keeping an eye out for.

The Charles Dickens Museum: Dickens lived in a variety of locations, but it is his house at 48 Doughty Street that has become a shrine to the memory of his literary genius. If pubs are more your literary scene than museums, The George in Southwark claims Charles as a regular patron; though to be fair to the museum, it holds nights that include gin tastings. To quote, ‘Lovers of literature and gin may look no further’ – sold.

The Globe: Reopened in 1997 and still the only building in London that is permitted to have a thatch roof, seeing Shakespeare performed at The Globe is one of the experiences it seems foolish to leave London without. I would suggest shelling out the extra pennies and getting a nice comfy seat though; I don’t think I’ve ever been to a performance where at least one person hasn’t succumbed to the exhaustion of standing through a production. This is especially pertinent for Hamlet (at a full running time of around 5 hours) and for Titus Andronicus (where the sheer amount of guts spilling into the crowd makes even the sturdiest weak at the knees).

Bloomsbury: It is possible to argue that no area of London is more synonymous with English literature over the past 100 years than the area of Bloomsbury. This is mainly to do with the synonymous Bloomsbury Group, who boasted among its ranks the likes of Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster and John Maynard Keynes. The area is littered with blue plaques proclaiming the importance of the area; other notable literary residents in the area have been J.M. Barrie, Charles Dickens and W.B. Yeats.

Westminster Abbey: A little gloomy perhaps, but what bookish list would be complete without a short stop off at the resting place of some of our literary greats. Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey contains (literally) the crème-de-la-crème of the western literary canon. In a tradition started by Chaucer and continued by Tennyson, Browning and Hardy, the greatest compliment a writer could gain is to join the boys club in possibly the most famous corner-of-a-church in the world.


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