Hay-on-Wye, where the Photographing is Easy

Over here in North America you can drive for days without seeing a bookstore, let alone mind-blowingly quaint ones, like these

Every time you turn a corner in Hay-on-Wye, the book-town on the Welsh/English border, another one pops

into sight.

Christ, even the ground here

is photogenic. And check out this green grocer:

If you fancy visiting Hay and attending the Festival here’s the tourism information you need.

Four Reasons why you should visit Literary Places

Top Withens, the ruin on the moors near Haworth that inspired Wuthering Heights

This from David Herbert’s paper LITERARY PLACES, TOURISM AND THE HERITAGE EXPERIENCE, published in the Annals of Tourism Research, 2001. Herbert is Emeritus Professor of Geography at University of Wales Swansea:

“In these places, a visitor can still walk out of a house and into landscapes which have barely changed since the writer drew breath from them and breathed literature into them… We walk in our writers’ footsteps and see through their eyes when we enter these spaces (Marsh 1993:xi, xv).

Second, tourists may be drawn to literary places that form the settings for novels. Fiction may be set in locations that writers knew and there is a merging of the real and the imagined that gives such places a special meaning. Fictional characters and events often generate the strongest imagery. Pocock showed that tourists to Haworth sought out the moors but emotions in crossing them were suffused “less with the excitement of treading in the Brontes’ footsteps, than with the thought that Heathcliff might appear” (1987:138).

Third, tourists may be drawn to literary places for some broader and deeper emotion than the specific writer or the story. Squire (1993, 1994) exemplified this with her research into Hill Top Farm, a former home of Beatrix Potter, in Cumbria. Many tourists were evoking memories and emotions from their childhood: their recall was of the telling of the stories and their bonds with home and family. In a similar way, G. Davies (1995) recorded the significance of the story Evangeline to the Acadian people of eastern Canada. For them, she argued, the story, as depicted in Longfellow’s poem, evoked memories of suffering and the loss of a home territory.

The fourth reason may be less concerned with the literature than with some dramatic event in the writer’s life. Van Gogh was an artist rather than a writer but Millon (Office de Tourisme, Auvers-sur-Oise, personnal communication in 1993) commented that many people visited Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris because of its association with the manner of the artist’s death rather than with his art.”

If you’d like information on Haworth and Bronte country, click here.

Alice’s Adventures in Oxford

Christ Church. Credit Bduke at en.wikipedia

By Angela Youngman

A city of dreaming spires and black robed undergraduates with bikes hurrying to lectures, Oxford is also home to one of the most celebrated characters in literature. It was here that one blazing hot day in the summer of 1862, that an Oxford don named named Charles Dodgson took a little girl named Alice Liddell and her sisters rowing on the river Isis. Leaving Folly meadow, they rowed down to Godstow for a picnic during which Dodgson told a story about Alice encountering a white rabbit with a pocket watch and muttering he would be late. The rest is history.

Better known by his pen name of Lewis Carroll, Charles Dodgson wrote down the story and it has delighted readers ever since. Iconic scenes such as the Mad Hatter’s tea party with a Dormouse being stuffed into a teapot, playing card soldiers and gardeners painting roses red are instantly recognizable. Many of these scenes are based around places that Alice knew in Oxford – and visitors can still see many of these locations today. Both Alice and Lewis Carroll lived at Christ Church College, part of Oxford University. Alice’s father was Dean of the College, while Carroll was one of the lecturers. The College was Carroll’s home from 1851 to his death in 1898 . He started writing his famous story while living in The Cloister of Christ Church College.

A picture of Lewis Carroll can be seen in the dining room near the door, while Dean Liddell’s portrait is close to the High Table. Just behind the High Table is an intriguing winding stair, which is known as the Rabbit Hole! Nearby is Christ Church Cathedral where Carroll worshipped daily, sitting in the Canons and Students stalls. Alice Liddell also came here with her family to attend services, most frequently on Sundays. Leaving the College via a path through the Meadows, it is possible to walk directly in Alice’s footsteps. The poplar trees were planted on the orders of her father, and Carroll’s photograph of the site shows this identical view. Punting and rowing on the river is still a feature of Oxford life. There are many boats for hire, just as Carroll hired one for his party. Godstow Lock and the meadow where Alice and her sisters heard the story still remain, with lots of space for picnics.

Across the road from the Deanery on St Aldates is another reminder of Alice. A little shop now bears her name. It was here that Alice went to buy sweets. The old lady in charge of the shop had a bleating voice, and the shop frequently flooded. Carroll referred to this in his book Through the Looking Glass when he wrote that Alice was ‘in a little dark shop, leaning with her elbows on the counter, and opposite her was an old Sheep, sitting in an arm-chair knitting, and every now and then leaving off to look at her through a great pair of spectacles’ and that goods floated away in the water.

Not far away is the Museum of Natural History where Lewis Carroll and Alice saw the remains of a Dodo, while the Museum of Oxford has an fascinating display of Alice memorabilia such as Alice’s Crest Book, her Red Cross medal for fund raising efforts during the First World War and a wonderful biscuit tin specifically commissioned by Lewis Carroll to celebrate his 60th birthday.

Angela Youngman is a writer and journalist with numerous books linking travel and literary/film sites. She is the author of Discover Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland: The writer, the stories, the places

10 of Britain’s most fascinating literary landmarks

Here, from VisitBritain, are ten must see literary destinations to add to your bucketlist. Click on the link at the bottom for details. I’ve attended a play at The Globe, which was riveting. The action on stage was so absorbing that I didn’t even notice standing on a hard concrete floor for three hours. A modern day groundling. And Dylan Thomas’s Wales was beautiful, atmospheric, poetic in fact. Love his writing shed overlooking the Taf estuary in Laugharne. Even got up to Hay-on-Wye with all of its photogenic bookstores. As for the rest? Plenty to look forward to!

1. Roald Dahl: Cardiff
2. Shakespeare: Globe Theatre, London
3. Beatrix Potter: The Lake District
4. Bronte Sisters: Yorkshire Moors
5. Arthur Conan Doyle: London
6. Dylan Thomas: Wales
7. Charles Dickens: Kent
8. A.A. Milne: East Sussex
9. Robert Burns: Alloway
10. Agatha Christie: Torquay

Details here.

An interactive literary map of England you can use

VisitEngland’s interactive map will help you navigate your way around England’s literary hotspots, from Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn to enjoying a game of Poohsticks in Ashdown Forest.

Research from VisitEngland into literary tourism shows that more than half of British holidaymakers would visit a literary attraction on holiday in England.