“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien
While travelling may not be at the top of the bucket list for a book reader, there are many places you can visit that have strong connections to the books and the authors you love. For instance, an ardent F. Scott Fitzgerald fan will delight visiting the French Riviera where the author lived and as he writes in his Tender is the Night – was inspired by the magic of the “soft-pawed night and the ghostly wash of the Mediterranean far below.” Peter Jackson, a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings, through his movies, has made New Zealand a Mecca for J. R. R. Tolkien fans.
There are many literary tourists who are also inspired to travel to places their favourite fictional characters have travelled to. So pack your bags and your books and visit these wonderful places that a book lover should visit once in his or her lifetime.
William Shakespeare, widely regarded as the greatest English writer, was born in this tiny village by the river Avon. Stratford-upon-Avon, steeped in culture and history, is considered one of the UK’s most important tourist destinations. Literature lovers from all over the world flock to pay homage to his grave. You could even catch The Bard’s plays, which are regularly performed in the local theaters.
St. Petersburg, Russia
It was once described by the great Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoyevsky as being “the most abstract and intentional city in the world.” Inspiring writers like Alexander Blok, Alexander Pushkin and Nikolai Gorgol, St. Petersburg offers a myriad of literary museums to explore. Literary tourists can also visit the prison that inspired Akhmatova’s poetry, walk through the house of Pushkin and check out the apartment where Dostoevsky began his career.
Scotland’s capital city is well known in literary circles as being a great influence to some of the finest writers of the English language. Robert Louis Stevenson once compared the Scottish capital to Paris and even said that Edinburgh was “what Paris ought to be.” Travelers can visit the Writers’ Museum which house many memorabilia of Scotland’s literary elite, with exhibits that include Robert Burn’s writing desk and other personal effects. Fans of the Harry Potter books will certainly enjoy a visit to the Elephant House, a small café where JK Rowling spent time penning everyone’s favorite boy wizard.
While Stevenson might have had reservations about the City of Lights, many people feel that there’s no better place to be a writer than Paris. Whether you’re searching for inspiration, following the footsteps of literary greats, or mingling with current working writers, the creative opportunities on offer throughout Paris are plentiful.
There is more than four centuries of literary history to cover. From favored locales of Parisian authors, to museums dedicated to the lives of Enlightenment writers and famous playwrights, the list of literary haunts is seemingly endless.
With streets full of bookstores, cafes and museums to famous poets, Santiago is a top destination for book lovers. Literary heavyweights like Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral have called the city their home. Neruda’s house, called La Chascona, is visited by fans from all over the world.
When you are there make it a point to visit one of several branches of the library Café Literario, including an outpost in Balmaceda Park that has 30,000 books.
The city is synonymous with literary greats like James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, William Butler Yeats and one of the most influential writers of all time, Oscar Wilde. The city is also designated as a UNESCO City of Literature. It is home to the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, won by Dublin resident Colm Tóibín in 2006.
Literature is in the fabric of Dublin, its great novelists, poets and dramatists have exerted influence in literature that no other city can rival. No other city can boast its literary heritage and creative impetus.
In 2008, it was titled the World Book Capital. Because of its lax administration, writers fleeing oppression in other parts of the world, flocked to Amsterdam in the 17th century, leaving behind a rich literary heritage. Travelers will find some of the most atmospheric bookstores hidden in alleyways near the canal, selling works of art (both literary and otherwise) from local artisans that are often printed on small presses in other parts of the city and then hand delivered by the writers themselves.
Prague, Czech Republic
There’s a popular saying that states Prague’s literary history is so impressive that it will transform the way you view the city. Be sure to visit the Museum of Communism, it will give you an insight to the difficulties that writers faced during the Soviet rule.
There is also a museum dedicated to one of Prague’s most famous sons – Franz Kafka. It offers a look into the life of one of the greatest literary geniuses. You can also enjoy a coffee at the Café Slavia in central Prague, where poet Rainer Maria Riike set a scene that takes place in his ‘Two Stories of Prague’.
Another city that UNESCO designated a City of Literature, Melbourne has been home to some of Australia’s greatest writers, past and present including Marcus Clarke, C J Dennis, Peter Carey, Helen Garner, Christios Tsoilkas and Nam Le. The city is also famous for its many literary festivals which promote local as well as international books.