The British Travel Bucket List For Booklovers

1. Whitby

Bram Stoker’s time spent on holiday in Whitby informed much of his gothic classic, Dracula. Hike along the West Cliff, where he stayed, and take in the atmosphere that inspired the original vampire novel.

2. The Elephant House, Edinburgh

The Elephant House, Edinburgh

Most famous for being J.K. Rowling’s go-to writing spot in the early days of Harry Potter, the Elephant House’s cosy atmosphere, delightful menu, and stunning view of Edinburgh Castle has been enjoyed many respected writers, includin Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall-Smith.

3. The British Library, London

The British Library, London

The British Library at St Pancras is the home-base for the national library, and provides over 150 million titles in most known languagesfor research and exhibition.

4. Carmarthen, Wales

Carmarthen, Wales

Myth and legend lovers can’t miss a trip to Carmarthen, the supposed birthplace of Merlin the wizard, King Arthur’s most famous advisor. Stay in the Merlin Hill Centre Bed and Breakfast on site and explore the mystical area to soak up the atmosphere of Britain’s most famous legend.

5. Jane Austen Centre, Bath

Jane Austen Centre, Bath

Jane Austen lived in the charming city of Bath for several years in the early 19th century. The city now honours her with a permanent exhibition and hosts the annual Jane Austen Festival on her birthday.

6. Writers’ Museum, Edinburgh

Writers' Museum, Edinburgh

Tucked away from Victoria Street (a must-see in itself for Harry Potter fans, since it inspired Diagon Alley) is Ladystair’s Close, home of the Edinburgh Writer’s Museum, which features a glorious bookshop, a tribute to the evolution of printed books, and an exhibition onDr Jekyll and Mr Hyde author, Robert Louis Stevenson, who spent many years in the city.

7. Hill Top, Hawkshead

Hill Top, Hawkshead

Beloved children’s writer Beatrix Potter did most of her writing, and set many of her stories at Hill Top farmhouse. She was also a talented visual artist, and the National Trust offers a gallery of her watercolours and drawings at the Beatrix Potter Gallery.

8. Broadstairs, Kent

Broadstairs, Kent

Broadstairs provided plenty of inspiration to Dickens classics. Dickens House is a tribute to all things Charles Dickens, and located on site in a cottage Dickens often visited with his son, and used as inspiration for the cabin of Betsey Trotwood in David Copperfield. The real life Bleak House, also in the area, inspired Dickens’ Victorian epic of the same name.

9. Stratford-upon-Avon


Shakespeare’s birthplace is both beautiful and steeped in literary history. Not only did the town provide the setting for Shakespeare’s early years, but remained an important location throughout his life. See his wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage, his mother’s childhood home, and the house where he spent his late years.

10. Ashdown Forest, East Sussex

Ashdown Forest, East Sussex

Ashdown Forest serves as the true life inspiration for the Hundred Acre Wood in A.A. Milne’s classic Winnie-the-Pooh stories for children.

11. English Riviera

English Riviera

Agatha Christie was born in Ashfield, Torquay on the English Riviera, and the area is is full of locations which inspired, or are featured in, her mystery novels. Most famous is the Imperial Hotel in Torquay, which inspired the fictional Majestic Hotel that appeared in two of Christie’s novels.

12. Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth

Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth

The childhood home of Emily, Charlotte, and Anne Brontë has been converted to a memory in honour of the sisters and their work and features a massive library.

13. Hardy’s Cottage, Dorset

Hardy's Cottage, Dorset

Tess of the D’urbervilles author Thomas Hardy was born in Dorset and wrote several of his early pieces from the cottage in Bockhampton. The small house was built by Hardy’s grandfather and is protected by the National Trust.

14. Culloden Battlefields

Culloden Battlefields

Fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series will recognise the Culloden Battlefields near Inverness as a spot of significance for Jamie and Clair (no spoilers for the TV crowd!). Outlander fans should checkout Visit Scotland’s tailored map for more Scottish locations related to the books and TV program.

15. Laurel Villa, Magherafelt

Laurel Villa, Magherafelt

This poetry-themed bed and breakfast in Northern Ireland is located only a few miles from poet Seamus Heaney’s childhood home. Heaney’s work, which focuses on working class and life on the Irish countryside is much informed by his upbringing, and visiting his roots gives his poetry new depth.

16. Oxford University

Oxford University

Oxford has bred some of the greatest literary minds of the modern era. Authors such as C.S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde, W.H. Auden, William Golden, and Lewis Carroll have studied or lectured at the university, and there’s a spectacular library worth visiting as well.

17. Brick Lane, London

Brick Lane, London

Monica Ali’s novel surrounding the arranged marriage and cultural adaptation of a Bangladeshi woman, Nazneen takes place in East London, and is titled after the iconic Brick Lane.

18. Jamaica Inn, Cornwall

Jamaica Inn, Cornwall

Daphne du Maurier’s novel about smuggling on the Cornish coast, Jamaica Inn, was inspired by her real-life stay at the Cornwall-based establishment.

19. Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor

Thought to be the burial place of King Arthur, Glastonbury Tor is an ancient, beautiful, and haunting spot for lovers of myth and legend to visit.

The Spoils of Poynton by Henry James

The Spoils of Poynton by Henry James

No one writes novels as perfectly executed as Henry James; the subtlety of every sentence, character, situation, exchange is simply staggering. So why don’t more writers write like this? Because they can’t? Because it’s old fashioned? Tired? Too difficult for the reader? Surely the sophistication that James revels in is superior to the fumblings of so many modern authors who only have an eye for the shallowest of readers and the easiest of paydays? Or maybe not. But this novel, one of James’ later novels, and so one of his more challenging, is a mastercalss in what can be done by an author at the top of his game.

Mr A

The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester

The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester

So many people love this novel but I can’t get past the central character who for me is no more than a pompous fool, whatever mystery he might be sitting on top of, though for others he is a richly drawn and amusing character. For this kind of thing to work – a first person narrator who is deeply and horribly flawed – the writer shouldn’t get carried away, or should get more absurdly carried away: Nabokov’s Pale Fire is an excellent example of this type of thing done well. Lanachester’s novel is an example of it done, in my opinion, badly.

Mr A

Download 55 Free Online Literature Courses: From Dante and Milton to Kerouac and Tolkien

milton and kerouac

Here at Open Culture, we don’t just feature education in your recommended daily servings of culturally wide-ranging video, audio, text, and image — we also feature it in a form that goes deep: whole courses you can download to your computer or mobile device of choice and experience at your own pace. If you never quite studied all the literature you wanted to — or if you simply can’t get enough study of the stuff — pay a visit to our collection of over 50 free literature courses online. Some of them may even cover the same textual ground as the classes you felt curious about taking in college but could never quite fit into your schedule: “Dante in Translation” (Free Online Video – Free iTunes Audio - Free iTunes Video – Course Materials), for instance, or “Introduction to Theory of Literature” (Free Online Video – Free iTunes Audio – Free iTunes Video – Course Materials), or “Introduction to World Literature (Free Online Video).

Our collection offers courses with relatively broad literary subject matter, such as “American Passages: A Literary Survey” (Free Online Video) and “Contemporary Literature” (Free Online Video – Free Video Download), and others specific to one period or even one writer, like “Oscar Wilde” (Free Online Audio ). and the Allen Ginsberg-taught “Jack Kerouac” (Free Online Audio Part 1 and Part 2). Other offerings in our collection more closely resemble the courses you may have always wanted to take, but never found offered, like these from “Tolkien Professor” Corey Olsen:

And yes, for those truly intent on continuing their education in Middle-Earth, Olsen also offers a “Silmarillion Seminar” (Free Online Video & Audio). If none of these appeal to your own intellectual curiosity, however, do visit the collection’s page for more options from existentialism to George Eliot to Shakespeare. (Nor should you miss our complete list, 1000 Free Online Courses from Top Universities, which includes other subjects likephilosophycomputer sciencepsychologyphysicsreligion and more.) And if you feel like something lighter, might I suggest John Green’s crash course on literature?

Crash Course on Literature: Watch John Green’s Fun Introductions toGatsby, Catcher in the Rye & Other Classics

As a preteen, I steered clear of “young adult” fiction, a form I resentfully suspected would try too hard to teach me lessons. Then again, if I’d had a young adult novelist like John Green — not far out of adolescence himself when I entered the YA demographic — perhaps I’d have actively hoped for a lesson or two. While Green has earned a large part of his fame writing novels like Looking for AlaskaAn Abundance of Katherines, and The Fault in Our Stars, a sizable chunk of his renown comes from his prolific way with internet videos, especially of the educational variety, which also demonstrate his possession of serious teaching acumen. Last year we featured his 40-week Crash Course in World History, and today we offer you his collection of crash courses in English literature. At the top, you’ll find its first lesson, the seven-minute “How and Why We Read.” Green, in the same jokey, enthusiastic onscreen persona as before, follows up his world history course by reminding us of the importance of writing as a marker of civilization, and then reveals his personal perspective as a writer: “I don’t want to get all liberal artsy on you, but I do want to make this clear: for me, stories are about communication. We didn’t invent grammar so that your life would be miserable in grade school as you attempted to learn what the Márquez a preposition is. By the way, on this program I will be inserting names of my favorite writers when I would otherwise insert curse words.”

Those lines give you a sense of Green’s tone, as well as his objective. If you felt miserable not just studying grammar in grade school but studying actual literature in high school, these lessons may well revitalize a few of the classics with which you couldn’t engage in the classroom. Just above, we have Green’s crash course on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (part onepart two) which, early on, gets interrupted by a familiar-looking young objector: “Mr. Green, I hate everything about this stupid collection of first-world problems passing for a novel, but my hatred of that Willa Cather-ing loser Daisy Buchanan burns with the fire of a thousand suns.” This draws a groan from our host: “Ugh, me from the past. Here’s the thing: you’re notsupposed to like Daisy Buchanan, at least not in the uncomplicated way you like, say, cupcakes. I don’t know where you got the idea the quality of a novel should be judged by the likability of its characters, but let me submit to you that Daisy Buchanan doesn’t have to be likable to be interesting. Furthermore, most of what makes her unlikable — her sense of entitlement, her limited empathy, her inability to make difficult choices — are the very things that make you unlikable.” Green knows that many of us, no matter how literate, still fall back into the disadvantageous reading strategies for which we settled in high school. He does his entertaining utmost to correct them while exploring the deeper themes of not just Gatsby, but other such oft-assigned (and oft-ruined-for-kids) works as Romeo and Juliet (part one,part two), the poetry of Emily Dickinson, and, below, The Catcher in the Rye (part onepart two):

A Crash Course on Literature will be added to our handy collection: 200 Free Kids Educational Resources: Video Lessons, Apps, Books, Websites & More

Related Content:

A Crash Course in World History

The 55 Strangest, Greatest Films Never Made (Chosen by John Green)

Free Literature Courses

Study Finds That Reading Tolstoy & Other Great Novelists Can Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los AngelesA Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.

Author, Author by David Lodge

author author

A fictionalisation of the latter half of Henry James’s life might not be to everyone’s taste, though coming out as it did in the same year as another such book – The Master by Colm Toibin – you’d think the idea would be to the taste of quite a few people, despite Henry James never really enjoying a great deal of popularity. That said, James is far better regarded now than when he was alive and throwing out amazingly complex novels by the fistful. Lodge, who throws out amazingly unexceptional but popular literary novels by an even more generous fistful, shows himself as a pretty adept judge of narrative and style, and has shown enough good sense in this novel to justify a closer look at his other work.

Mr A

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

A curious book, the problem being that it never quite lives up to how good the title is, in fact it’s quite tedious and rambling in places; the few engaging patches, and the fact that it’s all pretty well written, don’t seem to be enough. Many critics praise McCullers for telling a good story, though I can’t see how this novel is evidence of that. The characters are well drawn, even if she takes a bit too much time over each one, dragging the characters out a little bit further than the reader’s patience. But really, the cardinal sin McCullers commits is writing whole paragraphs which are unnecessary, and adding too many strands to a novel that just can’t support them.

Mr A