London has produced some of the most successful authors and provided the backdrop for countless novels, so if you want to explore the capital’s literary history, perhaps your first stop should be the historic pub “I Am the Only Running Footman” – on Charles Street in Mayfair. This 1749 drinking den, was once the hangout of servants and is said to have inspired P.G. Woodhouse to create the fictional club “Junior Ganymede” for “the gentlemen’s gentlemen”.
No visit to London is complete without paying homage to perhaps the most famous of all English authors, Charles Dickens, which can conveniently be done at the Dickens House Museum at 48 Doughy Street. Here you can tour the rooms where Dickens lived with his family during a particularly productive period of writing, when the author completed “Oliver Twist”. The museum also holds the world’s most important collection of material relating of Dickens, where visitors can see paintings, rare editions, manuscripts, original furniture and many other items that relate to the life of the most popular and beloved personality of the Victorian age.
If all that leaves you a little thirsty, why not indulge in a pint of London’s finest ale in Dickens’ local watering hole – “The Lamb on Lamb”. This pub was not just a hangout for Dickens, but also the meeting place of the “Bloomsbury Group”, a collection of novelists and essayists whose work deeply influenced the literature of the period, and whose topics often focused on controversial areas of the time, including feminism and sexuality.
For crime fiction fans, 221b Baker Street is an essential stop on the London Literary tour. As the home of London’s most famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Doctor Watson, this notorious address is the starting point for dozens of the detective duo’s adventures.
To witness part of a more recent literary phenomenon, JK Rowling fans can pay a visit to Kings Cross station. From here, muggles can attempt to find Harry Potter and Co’s platform 9 and three quarters, from where they catch the Hogwarts Express to their wizarding school.
Bookworms who are looking to buy a piece of prose can peruse some of the thousands of new and second-hand book shops; from the big chains like Waterstones, Blackwell or Borders, which sit next to some of the most prestigious shops and hotels in London, right down to the smaller, side-street stores, where books from times gone by are piled up and waiting to be rediscovered again.
The world is home to many famous authors, but nowhere else is there such a concentration of literary heroes as you’ll find in London; so if you truly are a book lover, the British capital should definitely be on your visiting list.
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