A Literary Travel Guide To The UK


Such is the unshakable might of a good book, great authors have always had an uncanny ability to move us in both senses of the word.

And while dreamy landscapes vividly conjured up on a page or two maybe reason enough to seek out the real-life location, how better to understand a writer's genius than by visiting the realm which shaped them?

So, with summer imminent we've drawn up a rather novel holiday guide...

And click here for a list of real-life literary drinking spots you can visit



No sweeping coastal town is as intrinsically linked with Dracula as Whitby, the scenic North Yorkshire spot which Bram Stoker took direct inspiration from while penning his horror masterwork, mostly from a house atop West Cliff, where he gazed at the red roof littered landscape that fell before him - a sight referenced in Mina Munny’s journal: “The houses of the old town - the side away from us - are all red-roofed, and seem piled up one over the other anyhow, like the pictures we see of Nuremberg.”


Described in the novel as “a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits,” Whitby Abbey is just as eye-catching today. While Dracula did have the slight advantage of being a demonic dog when he bounded up the bending 199 stairs toward the landmark, the legwork is well worth it.

Whitby Abbey, Abbey Lane, Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO22 4JT

Where to stay:

The Bay Royal Hotel, where Stoker is believed to have written much of his book and where you’ll enjoy similar dramatic views of the buildings which ruggedly lay across the bottom of the adjacent cliffside, as well as the those mysterious ruins so richly described by the author. Sunset casts a particularly ominous viewpoint over the Abbey if you time it right.

Bay Royal Hotel, West Cliff, Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO21 3HA

Bayhotels.co.uk - - Yorkshire.com



It is something of a feat just to get to reach the Isle of Jura, bog-mired, windswept and populated by little under 200 people. Never mind reaching Barnhill, a cottage requiring a drive across its rugged terrain then a good hike once you’ve made it ashore. It’s here, from 1946-1948, that Orwell lived, an idyllic solitude and a long way from when he was once down and out in crammed cities like Paris and London, allowing him the perfect space to imagine that metropolis nightmare which would pulsate off the pages of 1984, the landmark novel he typed up here.


Down at the gulf of Corryvreckan, a beautiful if dangerous passage of strong Atlantic current funnelled from the island, near peril awaits. In 1947, Orwell discovered the volatility of these waters first-hand after the boat he and some family members were sailing in got caught in a whirlpool, the clan only surviving by paddling to a rock a mile from shore where they were eventually rescued by lobstermen. Three months after this incident, he started writing 1984. A certified boat tour is available.

Ardfern Yacht Centre, Ardfern, Argyll PA31 8QN


Where to stay:

Barnhill Cottage. Retaining the exact same rustic feel and owned by the same family who had it in Orwell’s day, book a stay and you will rely on a vintage diesel generator for electric light, gas powered fridge for food storage and a Rayburn for hot water. Oh and given that you’ll need a boat or a 4x4 to make it there, we imagine Big Brother would struggle to watch you in these parts.




To know any Brontë is to know Brontë County, and you’ll find the heart of their kingdom in Haworth – specifically, at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, former home of the sibling authors surrounded by dazzling views of rolling hillsides and windy cobbled streets that echo the days of old. The museum itself is one of the finest literary history gems in the UK, allowing you to step into the rooms once filled by Charlotte and co, which are so well presented you might feel as if you’ve wandered into one of the books yourself.


Take a drive 14 miles south east toward Gomersal and you’ll encounter Red House Museum. Built in 1660, it was once lived in by women’s rights campaigner Mary Taylor in the 19th century, a close friend of Charlotte Brontë, which is why the Taylor family and stately home itself were immortalised by Bronte in her classic novel Shirley as The Yorkes and Briarmins, respectively. Equally, nearby Oakwell Hall, known as Fieldhead in the novel, and also open to visitors, was another 16th century manor to get a name-check, being described by Brontë as having “old latticed windows” and walls and chimney-stacks “rich in crayon touches and sepia lights and shades.”

Red House Museum, 281 Oxford Rd, Cleckheaton, Gomersal, BD19 4JP


Where to stay:

The Brontë Hotel. A short walk from the tourist hubbub of Keighley yet comprising the same antiquated values of the surrounding attractions, it’s a good base camp to have in the area. The bonus is being a stone’s throw from a vintage steam railway station – further reason to question whether your taxi driver had a flux capacitor on getting you there.

The Brontë Hotel, Lees Lane, Haworth, Keighley, BD22 8RA

Bronte-hotel.co.uk - Yorkshire.com



Foremost beard wearer and writing genius Charles Dickens enjoyed foreign excursions as much he did designer stubble. It was for good reason he wasn’t attracted by the bright lights of America or the Far East – he loved his native land too much for that, and nowhere more than Broadstairs, nestled on the cusp of the Kentish coast where he’d regularly spends his summer holidays.


Given that our own offices in Bloomsbury, London are sat just down the road from one, we know a thing or two about Charles Dickens museums - so when we say Dickens House in Broadstairs is worth a trip to, we’re not pulling your leg - or any limb for that matter. It is a place of note for any fan. After all, it’s here that the author got his inspiration for the home of Betsey Trotwood in David Copperfield, not to mention Trotwood herself, based on Miss Mary Pearson Strong, whom Dickens would have tea with on frequent occasions. Now a museum, you can see all manner of memorabilia from the scribe, including letters written about the destination itself.

Dickens House Museum, 2 Victoria Parade Broadstairs CT10 1QS


Where to stay:

Bleak House, the erstwhile home of Dickens where he wrote a number of major novels and now a hotel (albeit named after one of the few landmark books he didn't write here), is the ideal place to soak up a majestic sea view as maritime loving Dickens once did all those years ago.

Bleak House, Fort Road, Broadstairs, Kent CT10 1EY




“Catherine was all eager delight. Her eyes were here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking environs, and afterwards drove through those streets which conducted them to the hotel. She was come to be happy, and she felt happy already”. Mirroring Austen’s own feelings towards Bath, her home between 1801 and 1806, you may recognise this passage from Northanger Abbey, one of two novels she set in the spa city not far from London.


Last year, the city marked 200 years of Pride & Prejudice with a host of pop-up and fancy dress events, and though you might be 365 days late, don’t unloosen that 19th century garb just yet –The Manor House in nearby Castle Combe runs a series of Austen-themed lawn parties and even without, the grounds are the perfect spot for a picnic.

Castle Combe, Bath, Wiltshire, SN14 7HR


Where to stay:

No visit is complete without a trip to No.4 Sydney Place, an 18th century Georgian apartment where Austen once lived herself. Ramped up to 21st century standards nowadays, you can loaf around the exact spot she once slept, where she once wrote and where she once watched Sky News on a 36-in plasma TV. Okay, so perhaps that last one is stretching it a tad.

4 Sydney Pl Bath, Bath and North East Somerset BA2 6NF




Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? Clearly not the army of shrewd fans who continue to flock to the leafy Sussex corner of Lewes, long frequented by the writer during her best years with her husband Leonard.


The pair bought Monk’s House in 1919, staying there for sustained periods of time, normally summer months, until Leonard’s death 50 years later. And the pair weren’t alone in wanting to escape the perpetual din of London, either, with other esteemed members of the Bloomsbury Group often coming to visit. Reading like a who’s who of the literary world, T S Eliot, Roger Fry and E.M. Forster were a few of the names to pop around for tea. Ludicrous.

Monk’s House, Rodmell, Lewes, Sussex BN7 3HF


Where to stay:

Part of that very same country retreat is available to rent for stay through The National Trust. Based on the other side of the cottage's bountiful garden, this intimate studio comes with a sunlit sitting room/bedroom; a perfect environment in which to unfurl and catch up with a good book. A Room Of One’s Own might be fairly apt.

Monk’s House, Rodmell, Lewes, Sussex BN7 3HF




Pirates, pasties and providing the backdrop for much of Daphne Du Maurier’s back catalogue is what Cornwall is best known for. That, and we ran out of ‘P’s. We digress - so magnetised to the coastal region was native Londoner Du Maurier, first taken there by her prominent actress mother Muriel Beaumont, it’s hard to deny the romanticism in simply knowing her writing still inspires people to visit the region today.


Spend a day ambling up and down past the houses sprinkled across the drooping banks of Fowey - Du Maurier lived in a house now known as Ferryside, rumoured to still be inhabited by her extended family and where, if you find it, you can marvel at the view she enjoyed while writing her debut novel The Loving Spirit, Afterwards, jog down to the bottom and jump on a historic ferry-ride (it's been in use since the 13th century, apparently) and get off at Fowey, another hang-out of Du Maurier’s.

Bodinnick, Fowey, Cornwall PL23 1LX


Where to stay:

Jamaica Inn. It might be in the middle of nowhere 40 minutes north of Bodinnick’s shoreline by car, but you can’t put a price on staying at the hotel tavern opened in 1750 and made famous by Du Maurier’s novel of the same name. Unlike the book, however, which describes the place as solely a place for smugglers, not guests, it’s a hub for tourist activity, even containing a 'smugglers' museum. Just ensure you ask to see the Du Maurier memorial room, which, alongside other memorabilia, contains her writing desk.

Bolventor, Launceston, Cornwall PL15 7TS




To visit or not to visit, that is the rhetorical question when pertaining to a potential trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare and so a tourist magnet for some 4m travellers keen to ingest a healthy crop of Bard-related lore every year. There’s more modern entertainment, of course, with the nucleus of the Royal Shakespeare Company also based here.


Shakespeare’s place of birth, of course. To say Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens are just two of the millions who’ve made the pilgrimage to this cultural shrine is testament to its haunting appeal over some 250 years of operation. Plant your feet in the same confined space which shaped the formative years of the eminent literary figure from birth at 1564, into adulthood and through the first five years of his marriage to Anne Hathaway, before wandering a mile down the road to the cottage the pair later shared.

Henley St, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6QW


Where to stay:

The Mercure Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare Hotel. Romeo And Juliet fans might be wondering if they meant Mercutio, or are otherwise flagrantly avoiding copyright –they aren’t, it’s a brand name, but not enough to stop numerous other references to the bard. Take your pick from 78 individually named guest rooms and a restaurant called Othello. Then again, with an old fashioned black and white timber exterior frame meeting you on a visit, you'll already know you're in Shakespeare country. We wonder if you get the Twelfth Night for free...

Mecure, Chapel Street, CV37 6ER


[Images: Wikipedia Commons, James Whitesmith, Rex Features]


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