Image: summonedbyfells / Flickr
Image: summonedbyfells / Flickr

Literary destinations home and away

For many book lovers, the highlight of a holiday may involve visiting a somewhat literary destination – a place where your favourite author was born, or where a scene from a particular book is set. So why not plan a trip specifically around your favourite author or book? From local destinations that require only a day trip, to places abroad that you will need to fly to, we will provide an insight into a few literary destinations which are well-worth a visit.

Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon is an obvious local destination – the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Only 20 minutes away from Warwick campus by car, and a single bus ride from the City Centre, it is most definitely worth a visit.

Within Stratford there are five houses to visit that are connected to him and his family, which are open to the public throughout the year. Most frequently visited is Shakespeare’s birthplace, where tours are given daily, involving an exhibition of Shakespeare’s life and work.

Perhaps the most notable destination in Stratford is the Royal Shakespeare Theatre which is renowned for its excellent Shakespeare plays. They also have a student scheme called the RSC Key card, where students and young people can access the plays for only £5 per ticket. It is most definitely worth a trip to Stratford, which will make a day trip to remember while not costing much.

They also have a student scheme called the RSC Key card, where students and young people can access the plays for only £5 per ticket

Guernsey

Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables was written on the beautiful channel island of Guernsey. Of course, this is significantly further afield, requiring a ferry or plane fare, but the Hauteville house in Guernsey has stunning views of the island and involves an interesting part of Hugo’s life: it was where he moved to in 1856 after his exile from Paris. Each room is decorated differently as if he was making a philosophical statement from his décor. The entrance for example, is full of ornate designs based on his previous book The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Hugo’s house is definitely worth a visit to gain an insight into many references to Guernsey in his books – and also on a beautiful island that is most definitely a holiday destination.

The Netherlands

It would be difficult to find such a profoundly historical destination as Anne Frank’s house. Situated in the heart of Amsterdam, this destination goes beyond explaining references to the author’s books, but instead gives another level to the understanding of Anne Frank’s life and work. Being able to see the bookcase that concealed the entrance to her room, and stand in the room where she wrote her diary is a particularly moving experience, bringing the diary even more to life. There are also frequent exhibitions such as galleries of family photos, and an exploration of the helpers of the Frank family’s hiding. The entrance fee is fairly cheap, but tickets must be purchased beforehand online as it is naturally a particularly small museum.

This destination goes beyond explaining references to the author’s books, but instead gives another level to the understanding of Anne Frank’s life and work

London

Not too far from campus is the home of debatably English’s most famous novelist Charles Dickens. He moved to London at just 25 years old, where he wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. Stored in his Victorian family house are features such as his engagement ring, handwritten novel drafts, and centrally, his study. The museum is also the centre of the international research of Dickens, and so provides an interesting, intellectually stimulating environment containing a large collection of sources relating to his life and work. At the same time, there is an adjoining Garden café and gift and book shop, so giving a varied experience. Only an hour or so by train, this is the perfect destination to those interested in the work of Dickens.

Also in London is the British Library: a free museum which is perhaps the most diverse and unmissable for a book lover. Holding huge collections, catalogues and archives, you can register for a readers pass for free if there is a specific collection you would like to access. There are also constant exhibitions that are often free. For example, an exhibition about the Windrush story runs until October, involving learning about the Jamaican feminist poet Una Marson, and Benjamin Zephaniah. The British Library is a fantastic resource that is difficult to do justice in only a day, so people often make multiple trips. Nevertheless, it is so close to campus that it is definitely worth the journey.

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