The UK is alive with literary history, from Bronte to Beatrix Potter; England has produced an abundance of authors, books and characters loved across the world. This hugely important part of our heritage was often shaped by our beautiful, mystical and rugged landscapes that inspired many novelists and poets. Follow in the footsteps of our literary greats by visiting some of our favourite fictional haunts from Great Britain's most loved authors, made even more special in 2017, the Year of Literary Heroes, with many milestone events taking place across the country.
The 20th Anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
June 2017 marks 20 years since the first book in the Harry Potter series was originally published. The British Library are hosting a new exhibition, (set to open 20th October 2017) to mark this anniversary. Filled with medieval descriptions of dragons and griffins, to the origins of the philosopher's stone, the exhibition will take readers on a journey to the heart of the Harry Potter stories. Ideally located near Kings Cross' Platform 9 ¾, this exhibition will make for a brilliant day tour for any Wizards or Muggles. For any Hogwarts fans who will be in the UK before October, we can also arrange tickets to the Warner Brothers Studios or tours around famous filming sites in London - this experience can be made even more special by enjoying the tour in a vintage mini cooper car!
The Bicentenary of Jane Austen's Death
One of the most famous authors in English literature, Jane Austen, died on 18th July 1817 and was laid to rest in Winchester Cathedral. Visit Austen's house in Chawton, Hampshire (now a museum celebrating her life) where she wrote Emma, Mansfield Park and Persuasion. Ardent Austen fans should visit Bath and take in Number 4, Sydney Place where Jane lived with her family in the early 1800s. Enjoy a walking tour with one of our local guides and see sites mentioned in Northanger Abbey, her famous book set in the city. Whilst visiting Bath we would recommend also visiting the Jane Austen Centre before enjoying afternoon tea at The Pump Rooms, a traditional Georgian dining room which has featured in many Austen adaptations. The nearby Lacock is also worth a visit and was used as the village of Meryton in the famous BBC series of Pride and Prejudice, where Colin Firth was cast as Mr Darcy.
Shakespeare in Stratford-Upon-Avon
No visit to the UK, or mention of literary heroes, would be complete without noting the works of William Shakespeare. Walk in the footsteps of Shakespeare in the beautiful village of Stratford-upon-Avon, and see his birthplace or where he courted his wife at Anne Hathaway's Cottage. Stratford-upon-Avon is just two hours thirty minutes from London by train, so is a great day trip from the city! Whilst staying in London make sure you catch a performance at Shakespeare's Globe, a recreation of an outdoor Elizabethan playhouse including traditional thatched roof. Their indoor Sam Wanamaker theatre is perfect for the winter months and is lit predominately by candles for an atmospheric experience. Original Travel can also organise privately guided tours of the playhouse - complete with a sword fighting demonstration!
125th Anniversary of the First Sherlock Holmes Publication
'The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' by Scottish author - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - was first published in book form in 1892, and is now a popular TV series, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch. Original Travel can organise a Black Taxi Sherlock Holmes Tour where you step back in time and visit many sites from the original books as well the famous TV series; such as Sherlock and Watson's famous address 221B Baker Street. Although this address is actually fictional, the exterior shots of their home can be seen at 187 North Gower Street. Take in the famous Sherlock Holmes Museum, Speedy's café, as well as St Bart's Hospital and the Diogenes Club (actually The British Academy in Carlton Place) Deerstalker hat recommended...
Narnia in Northern Ireland
C. S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, was born in Ulster and although he spent all his adult life living in England, Northern Ireland provided the inspiration behind his fictional world of Narnia. Lewis mentioned to his brother that he had imagined the Mourne Mountains and Rostrevor (a small village and surrounding countryside in County Down) as Narnia when writing the books. For families wanting to see this mystical land, and enjoy the Narnia Trail loop in the forest, the nearby Castle Leslie would make for the perfect place to stay! In the city of Belfast, fans can seek out beautiful sculptures based on characters from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which are located on C. S. Lewis Square. The Lewis Reading room in the library at the Queen's University is a must see - a replica of the wardrobe door from the feature film marks the entrance to the room which holds, among other gems, 10 rare unpublished letters from Lewis to his friend Captain Bernard Acworth. Further West, the famous ruins of Dunluce Castle are said to be the inspiration behind Narnia's Castle of Cair Paravel, any Game of Thrones fans will also recognise it as the House of Greyjoy.