10 places every literary fan should visit

1. The Long Room at the Library of Trinity College Dublin

Built in the early 1700s, tourists come from all over the world to see this magnificent library. Located in the heart of Dublin city, its awe-inspiring bookshelves are lined with some of Ireland’s oldest books. You can also peer at the Book of Kells, an illustrated manuscript written around the year 800.

2. Shakespeare and Company Bookshop, Paris

Overlooked by the Cathedral of Notre Dame, literary fans have flocked to this English-language bookshop since it opened in 1951, and leave notes on the wall documenting their visit (here’s what happened on my trip there). But perhaps most pertinent is the sign that hangs above a doorway: ‘Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.’

 3. New York Public Library

Flanked by statues of lions at its entrance, the library is a richly decorated home to over 50 million books. They’re also running an exhibition until the end of June (that I saw at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the UK) called Curtain Up: Celebrating the Last 40 Years of Theatre in New York and London – I’d highly recommend a visit!

4. British Library, London

Not only do they have Jane Austen’s writing desk for you to stare at, the exhibitions at their St Pancras site are both varied and enjoyable (such as ‘Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination’.) They are commemorating the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone with an exhibition opening in October and I cannot tell you how excited I am for that! They also host talks with authors and have a great themed gift shop.

5. National Library of Ireland, Dublin

The National Library in Kildare Street is a fantastic resource, offering not just a splendid reading room but genealogical advice and a database of Ireland’s newspapers.

National Library of Ireland

A photo posted by Marése O’Sullivan (@marese_martha) on Jan 16, 2015 at 11:13am PST


6. Charles Dickens Museum, London

Tucked away in Doughty Street, Holborn, is the house where Charles Dickens lived from 1837 to 1839. While he spent just two years here, the museum is a wonderful showcase of his dedication to writing, as well as the man behind the fame. It’s where he penned Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby, among others.

7. Bronte Parsonage Museum, Haworth

As I wrote when I visited the house, it does really feel like the family has just stepped out for a walk on the moor. While Haworth is not particularly easy to get to, if you’re a fan of the Bronte sisters you will not regret it. Built in 1778, it is a true tribute to their lives and stories. Museum staff have just launched an exhibition on the recent TV drama To Walk Invisible called ‘From Parsonage to Production’.

8. Shakespeare’s Globe, London

There’s nothing like seeing a show at the Globe: the bawdy interaction between actors and audience; nabbing a standing ticket for £5 and watching a soliloquy up close; and clapping along to the musicians onstage. I was lucky enough to catch Jonathan Pryce in The Merchant of Venice the last time I was there.

9. Gordon Square, Bloomsbury

Where all the greats hung out back in the day. Virginia Woolf lived at number 46, and the location lent its name to what became known as the iconic ‘Bloomsbury Group’ of writers, philosophers and artists, who frequented the area.

10. Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey, London

Here’s where you’ll find the resting place of some of Britain’s most iconic writers. Among those who are buried here, or who have a memorial floor stone or a monument, are Geoffrey Chaucer; Alfred, Lord Tennyson; Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning; Charles Dickens; David Garrick; Laurence Olivier; Jane Austen; Lewis Carroll; George Eliot; and TS Eliot.

Lead image of the Long Room at Trinity College Dublin courtesy of Fred Bigio/Flickr.

Have you been to any of these places? What did you think? Leave a comment below.

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