As St. Augustine so wisely said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Having traveled to London, I can vet that London is bloody brilliant. From Picadilly Square to riding the Tube while minding the gap and viewing the Thames from the Eye, the pulse of London is exquisite. The post below highlights a very interesting niche of London’s sightseeing with literary must sees suggested from London’s Grange Hotels.
Literary London: 5 Places Featured in Fiction
Since Chaucer first put quill to parchment in the 13th century, London has been a fount of inspiration and a hub of creativity for Great Britain’s thriving literary community. Virginia Woolf wandered its streets, T.S. Eliot made it his home and countless other writers have featured it in their most famous works – it’s where characters go to live the high life or experience the low, fulfil their dreams and fall on hard times, see the extremes of society as concentrated in a highly-populated city that barely ever sleeps (and when it does, keeps one eye open).
If you’re planning a trip to the Big Smoke soon, why not call in on a few of the real-life sites that feature in the greatest works of U.K. fiction? Set up in one of the luxury hotels in London and take a tour of the gritty, the gorgeous and the downright gruesome landmarks that have featured in British literature over the years.
1. Southwark, Central London: In the prologue of The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer’s motley band of pilgrims gather at the Tabard Inn in Southwark before setting off on their journey of words and worship. Though the inn was demolished in the 19th century, there’s a plaque in place where it once stood next door to another great medieval inn: The George. Still open for business thanks to the National Trust, you take a few hours to toast Geoff Chaucer one of the oldest pubs in London.
2. St. Clement’s Church: There are two St. Clement’s Churches on the River Thames; either could be the infamous chapel that hosts the marriage of Miss Lydia Bennett and dastardly George Wickham in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. After the outrageous duo is discovered living in sin by the novel’s hero, Mr. Darcy, Wickham’s debts are paid and he’s forced to make an honest woman of Lizzie Bennett’s most irritating sister. It’s been pointed out that all of the most salacious things Ms. Austen wrote about took place in London – then, as now, the nation’s centre of excitement and scandal.
3. Saffron Hill, Camden: Dickens is famous for his squalid depictions of London as he knew it; whether he’s describing dreary Drury Lane or the dark, oppressive prison at Newgate, his fictional characters often appear in real places to highlight the social injustices he perceived in his time. No place is more low-down and dirty than Fagin’s hive of boy pickpockets, placed by Dickens at Field Lane on the end of Saffron Hill – a notorious spot for paupers and thieves in the mid-19th century.
4. Simpsons-in-the-Strand: The eating, meeting and greeting place of many a London literary luminary, Simpsons makes this list because of it was fictionally frequented by the most famous of all private eyes: Sherlock Holmes himself. It’s mentioned in two of Conan-Doyle’s mysteries, when the super-sleuth and sidekick Watson go for dinner together: The Adventure of the Dying Man and The Adventure of the Illustrious Client.
5. Dover Street, Mayfair: This lane off busy Piccadilly was where P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster mingled with his peers at louche gentlemen’s establishment, ‘The Drones Club’. Though the Drones itself is fictional, there’s the exclusive Arts Club on the site where it would have been. Over the years, its members have included Wilkie Collins, Dickens and Thomas Hughes.
Looking to walk amongst some of the greatest literary history? Check out the above sights which are sure to provide you with more good times and good stories.
**Guest post provided by Grange Hotels, London’s contemporary luxury hotels.