It should come as no surprise that London is home to more than its fair share of locations that celebrate literary accomplishment. As one of the historical capitals of the written word, you’d be hard-pressed to find a London area devoid of any space that is seeped in the history of the written word. To celebrate what this city has given to literature we look at the top literary destinations in England’s capital.
London is full of great libraries and bookshops that cater to every reader interest. While the British Library offers every single published book from the UK, Persephone Books is where you’ll find reprints of neglected fiction from the mid-20th century. The original concept of the store was to publish out of print books that had been forgotten. Many of the books are interwar novels by female writers. Drop by at 59 Lamb’s Conduit Street and grab your fair share of obscure literature, printed in the bookshop’s trademark gorgeous grey covers. This is one of the many hidden literary gems in London that is dying to be discovered. It is a haven for historical researchers and your everyday bookworm.
Pay your respects to the great Geoffrey Chaucer who was interred at the South Transept of Westminster Abbey as a Clerk of Works – not as the iconic writer that he is recognised to be today. This happy accident from 1556 was what created Poet’s Corner, now the final resting place of Chaucer, Rudyard Kipling, Laurence Olivier, Charles Dickens, Edmund Spenser, Thomas Hardy, Alfred Tennyson, and Henry Francis Clay. Near and around this macabre literary hall of fame, you’ll also find several monuments to literary giants who are interred elsewhere.
Sherlock Holmes Museum
You’ll find this museum at the famous detective’s address at 221B Baker Street. Opened in 1990, the museum is in homage to the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories. The museum is full of “artefacts” from the sleuth’s adventures, and Sherlock fans will be able to spend a few hours deducting from which story does each object belong.
More than just a nice display of antiquities, this museum is a pilgrimage site to one of the most globally popular fictional characters on the planet. And the good news is that Sherlock Holmes continues to be reinvented for new audiences, whether it is new adaptions of the classic Conan Doyle stories or new adventures created by present day writers. Yet, this desire to create new Sherlock Holmes material is not just limited to the written word. Companies from all industries have also added their own stories to the canon. Digital slot games provider Slingo has two popular games based on Sherlock Holmes that are adapted from the literary and cinematic versions of the character respectively. The two games featured on the gaming community are Holmes and the Stolen Stones and Sherlock Holmes: The Hunt for Blackwood. Unsurprisingly there is new Sherlock Holmes content released every year, which is why he continues to be so popular. Yet if you want to learn about how it all began, there’s no better location than the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
You can’t talk literary destinations without at least a mention of the iconic Globe Theatre. This painstakingly detailed recreation of the 1599 theatre accurately replicates the building before it caught fire during a performance of Henry VIII back in 1613. Fodor’s advises attending a performance and watching it from the pit – a space that’s right in front of the stage – for a truly Shakespearean experience. Some of the country’s biggest stage names have performed at The Globe, so don’t be surprised to see a famous face or even a future Hollywood star. The bard’s plays are not the only ones performed at this hallowed space. Check out the Globe Theatre’s site for more details on future performances.