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The UK has long been known for its talented poets, novelists and writers. From Chaucer to Christie, it is hard to think of an era in which British works of literature, poetry or prose were not featured heavily worldwide. If you are looking to visit the former home, once favoured haunt or school of a much loved idol, there are plenty of locations to visit in the UK. 

Read on for our list of some of the top literary locations in the UK as well as compiling a selection of our holiday cottages that have links to writers or novels.

Literary Locations

The Lake District – Beatrix Potter and the Lake Poets

The World of Beatrix Potter, Windermere

Being full of rolling hills, amazing views and of course beautiful lakes, it’s no surprise that the Lake District would inspire an author. Beatrix Potter, creator of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck and Tom Kitten amongst others, was enamoured by the Lake District after spending many of her holidays there, so much so that she bought a traditional farm in 1905 called Hill Top. Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top with the money she made from her first book, the Tale of Peter Rabbit, the farmhouse and surrounding countryside subsequently inspired her future books. Fans of Beatrix Potter can visit Hill Top which is now operated by the National Trust or visit The World of Beatrix Potter; a fascinating museum where visitors really experience the world that Potter created within her books.

The Lakes also played host to the some of the key poets of the Romantic Movement; Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth (although unpublished during her life time) and Robert Southey. William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy settled in the National Park at Dove Cottage in Grasmere, Southey and Coleridge both relocated to Greta Hall in Keswick (at different times). Although Greta Hall is privately owned, it is possible to visit Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum.

Edinburgh – Harry Potter

The Elephant House Edinburgh

Harry Potter is a global phenomenon. The Boy Who Lived and He Who Must Not Be Named are known the world over by children and adults alike, so it’s no surprise that Potter fans flock to the places that inspired the story or featured in the big screen adaptations. No UK literary tour would be complete without visiting Edinburgh, the place where JK Rowling wrote much of the Harry Potter series. You can visit locations that inspired Rowling on a walking tour before replenishing yourself with a good cup of coffee at The Elephant House, where JK Rowling spent much of her time writing her early novels. Perhaps an odd suggestion, but it’s certainly worth checking out the toilets in The Elephant House, where the walls are filled with messages from avid fans of Harry who have wanted to put their mark on ‘The Birthplace of Harry Potter’.

Oxford – J.R.R. Tolkein, C.S Lewis, Lewis Carroll and Even More

A birds eye view of beautiful Oxford

Being home to one of the most famous and prestigious universities in the world as well as one of the world’s first libraries, it’s no surprise that the beautiful city of Oxford would be on our itinerary for literary lovers. Whether you’re a fan of The Lord of The Rings, Alice in Wonderland, His Dark Materials or Harry Potter, you will be in your element in Oxford. There are official guided walking tours around Oxford that would suit any reader, no matter your genre of choice. There is a Children’s Stories Tour that adults and children alike will love which takes visitors to the places that inspired Philip Pullman, C.S Lewis and Lewis Carroll amongst others. Both wizards and muggles will love the Harry Potter tour, which takes a look at the filming locations of the films. There is also a C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien Tour, where guides will show you the Oxford that these two friends will have experienced; where they studied, lived and where they spent their leisure time!

Dumfries – Robert Burns

The Globe

Dumfries’ Globe Inn has been serving customers since 1610, with one customer of note having been Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. It is said that Burns frequented the backroom of the Globe with friends and often lodged there when his work as a Excise Officer required him to. The bedroom in which Burns lodged still has the six verses that he inscribed on the window panes with a diamond tipped stylus. The chair that Burns used to sit in can still be found in the Globe and anyone that dares to sit in it must recite a line of Burns’ works or buy the entire bar a drink.

Laugharne – Dylan Thomas

Image by Peter Broster - CC 2.0

The home of famed Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, the Dylan Thomas Boathouse, overlooking the Taf estuary in Carmarthenshire, is the place where legendary works such as “Do not go gentle into that good night” and “And death shall have no dominion” were likely penned. While these days the poet’s actual abode is devoted to exhibitions, lovers of literature can enjoy a brew and take in similar sights to those Thomas was inspired by.

Cottages with Literary Connections

Penlan (ref 6909), Snowdonia National Park

Penlan is a charming woodland cottage in the picturesque Snowdonia village of Beddgelert, famed for its historical monument to Gelert, the faithful dog of a medieval prince. According to the legend, the prince killed his dog thinking it had attacked his son, only to later discover that the dog had actually been defending his son from a violent wolf attack. The cottage itself is charismatic and traditional with exposed wooden beams and a lovely pub just 5 minutes’ walk away. It’s also affectionately known as ‘Rupert Bear’s Cottage’ in memory of Albert Bestall, the author and illustrator of the Rupert Bear stories. He lived in the cottage from 1956 to 1986 and gained inspiration from the surrounding countryside, writing his Rupert Bear stories here for many years.

Stable Cottage (ref 14117), Shropshire

This attractive stone-built cottage is situated in the rural hamlet of Cwm Head in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Perfect for a romantic getaway, Stable Cottage offers cute and cosy accommodation for two people. Children’s author, Malcom Saville, who wrote the well-known Lone Pine series, sent his family to this delightful cottage during World War Two. He was inspired to write his Lone Pine series, which were set in Shropshire, using the peaceful local countryside as his backdrop. This part of Shropshire is particularly beautiful so it’s not hard to see why he felt inspired, with lots of hill-walking and wildlife on your doorstep.

The Retreat (ref 1678), Cornwall

The Retreat is a cosy, stone-built cottage adjoining a mill house in the heart of the Cornish countryside. The tranquil village of St Keyne, where this cottage is nestled, and the surrounding areas are renowned for their rolling meadows and wooded valleys, perfect for a getaway away from the hustle and bustle of the Cornish coast yet still within easy reach. The Retreat offers open plan living for two people with its own private patio and BBQ. Pets are also allowed at this property so there’s no need to put your furry friends in the kennels! This historic cottage featured in the Daphne Du Maurier novel, The King’s General, which was published in 1946.

Church View (ref 915793), Yorkshire

Haworth needs no introduction as a literary break and this luxury self-catering apartment in the heart of Haworth is the perfect place to stay. It’s situated within a stunning period property on Haworth’s Main Street, which would have existed during the Brontë’s lifetime. Church View is less than a minute’s walk from the famous Black Bull pub where Branwell Brontë used to drink and 2 minutes’ walk from the Brontë Parsonage where the family lived. The bedrooms afford views of Haworth’s church where they are all, except Anne, buried.

Why not take a look at our Harry Potter-themed tour of the UK and Ireland, written to celebrate World Book Day?

Images courtesy of: Peter Broster (CC 2.0); Tejvan Pettinger (CC 2.0); Rebecca Siegel (CC 2.0); Ann Lee (CC 2.0); Colin Smith (CC 2.0).

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