I will be going to London at the end of next month and I’ve just spent the last few days planning my trip. London is probably one of the most interesting cities for booklovers to visit, there are just so much possibilities! I’m checking in with my travel companion next week to see what we’ll actually be visiting. But I already wanted to share the amazing things I found with you guys.
- The British Library – I don’t need to explain why, do I? Besides it being an awesome library (with the largest collection of books in the world), there are also free exhibitions where you can admire first editions from Shakespeare and Jane Austen, medieval tomes, Asian book art and so much more.
- The Garden Squares of Bloombury: a park where the Bloomsbury group (writers, artists, intellectuals) used to meet in the early 20th century. And do walk over to Gordon Square where Virginia Woolf used to live. The nearby Russel Square boasts a fountain where T. S. Eliot used to work and a little ways further down Marchmont Street is where Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley used to live.
- Platform 9 3/4 – because Harry Potter! King’s Cross Station actually has a Hogwarts trolley that’s halfway through the wall where you can take pictures and there’s a shop right next door.
- Baker Street 221b: Sherlock Holmes’ house has been turned into a museum and gift shop. Don’t know if the museum is worth the entrance fee, I’ll check it out! And you can even take a Sherlock Holmes-themed walking tour of London. That could be interesting as well! (also: I’ve read that Benedict Cumberbatch is at Madame Tussauds’ – I’ll definitely be stopping by there as well).
- The Charles Dickens museum: similar to Baker Street 221b, there’s a museum and gift shop. The house has been kept in quite the same way as it would have been when Dickens lived there. They kept some of his furniture and filled the house up with other furniture from that time period. A must for book lovers and historians alike!
- Charing Cross Road – which is basically a street filled with bookshops. Bookshops everywhere! There are your big chains like Foyles, but also numerous independent book shops that sell anything from antiques and second hand books to the latest releases.
- Shakespeare’s Globe – this replica of Shakespeare’s theatre stands right next to the Thame. There’s an entrance fee that’s quite steep, but I think it will be worth it!
- Keats’ House is still quite intact in Hampstead Heath. It’s the house where he lived for almost two years and it’s probably where he wrote Ode to a Nightingale. Learn all about the poet and his works and take part in the guided walks and literary events.
- Westminster Abbey is also on my list since many famous writers and poets have been buried here, like Geoffrey Chaucer and Charles Dickens for example.
- And the last thing on my list are the literary tours throughout the city. I already mentioned the Sherlock Holmes tour, but let’s also not forget the several Harry Potter tours that are available. If that’s not your cup of tea, then you can also follow in Jack The Ripper’s footsteps or walk with Charles Dickens or Oscar Wilde.
So much to see, yet so little time. On top of that, my travel companion is not a big reader, not a big fan of Harry Potter (has only seen “some” of the movies) and is also not really into book shopping. I will have to compromise, but I do hope to get to do some of the things on this list. Check back mid December for the results!
Also, in the back of my head, I’m already planning to go back to London, with someone who is an equally avid reader, and go all out for a literary weekend. Inspired by books, with an empty piece of luggage to fill up with books, and just non-stop reading and discovering.
How about you guys? Have you already been to any of these literary must-sees in London? Care to let me know which ones are worth it, and which ones aren’t? Thanks!