Warwickshire is a hotbed of literary sights and experiences. Born and bred in Rugby (half an hour’s drive from campus) I’ve lived around Warwickshire for over 20 years, and been to almost all of the visitors centres and bookshops in the area. So, whether you’re new to campus or returning for another year at the University of Warwick, here is my list of literary hotspots to see before you graduate.
The Big Comfy Bookshop, Coventry
Nestled in Fargo Village, Coventry’s independent shopping centre and creative quarter, you’ll find this delightfully quaint bookshop. Stacked full of second-hand bargains, you’ll lose yourself for hours. Here you can order a coffee (or something stronger) and sit back and relax in the friendly atmosphere. Coventry doesn’t always get a good rap but I’m a firm believer that it’s a beautiful city if you know where to go, and this is a good place to start. Check them out on social media for aesthetic book pictures and details of their acoustic nights, workshops and other events.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire is the county of Shakespeare and nowhere is this more obvious than in Stratford-upon-Avon. You can visit the birthplace and resting place of the Bard himself for a not-very-affordable price, but I mention the theatre for its young persons’ discounts. The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) offer £5 tickets to all their performances for 16-25 year olds, a heavy discount on full price tickets. There’s Shakespeare aplenty in the main theatre or visit the small theatre, The Swan, to see plays by Shakespeare’s contemporaries as well as new original productions by the RSC.
For students living in Leamington this year and freshers with enough change for a bus alike, the town is a hive of places to find and read books. Although the Old Library is now a very nice pub (I’m simultaneously thrilled and appalled) there are plenty of other places to pick up a good read. All your chain bookshops are there as well as a great Oxfam Bookshop on Regent Street for second-hand bargains and Collectors Assemble is a nearby comic book and collectibles shop. When you’ve got your reading material, head on over to any of the local coffee shops including Procaffeinate, Leif Tea Rooms and Vinteas. Or if it’s a nice day, relax in Jephson Gardens and get lost in your new book.
Warwick Words, Warwick
Before you graduate from the University of Warwick having never visited the historic town of Warwick, you must check out Warwick Words. It’s an organisation that runs an annual literary festival with an emphasis on historical literature. This year’s festival is from 30th September-6th October, and includes Alison Weir, Tom Holland and Adam Rutherford. However, don’t worry if you’ve missed it because they run the occasional event all year round. Just check out their website and social media for updates and hold out for next year’s festival.
George Eliot Country, Nuneaton
The online travel guide North Warwickshire Tourism have a section entitled “Uncover George Eliot Country”. It gives you a comprehensive guide to the places Mary Ann Evans, known as George Eliot, lived and wrote about, including Griff House, St Nicolas’ Church and Arbury Hall. You can plan a visit yourself or join the George Eliot Fellowship on its annual tour and George Eliot Day in May. All locations are situated in and around Nuneaton, so you might need a car for this one but it would make for a great day trip.
Other local literary landmarks
Perhaps not worth an entire day trip but worth mentioning is Lutterworth Church, the spiritual home of John Wycliffe, the parish priest who was the first person to translate the Bible into English in 1382. You might also like to visit Rugby School, the setting for Thomas Hughes 1857 novel Tom Brown’s Schooldays. Rugby School also lists in its alumni the poet Rupert Brooke, author Anthony Horowitz and essayist and author Salman Rushdie.
Wherever you’re living this year and whatever you’re studying, there are plenty of literary hotspots to entertain around campus. Regardless of what your interests are, there’s something for everyone. Don’t stay holed up in the university library every day this year, get off campus for a bit and find some other books to enjoy.