Literary Britain

Old Jan 20th, 2001, 08:27 PM
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Literary Britain

I'm making my second trip to the UK and looking for new literary haunts to explore. I took in Stratford-on-Avon, Dickens's home and Shaw's home in Hertfordshire (which I recommend highly--it's extraordinary!) the first time out. Anyone have any leads on spots with some connection to other writers, particularly Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, and Aphra Behn? I have a book called Literary Britan but would appreciate any firsthand travel accounts. Thanks!
Old Jan 20th, 2001, 09:03 PM
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In Rye, you can visit the home where Henry James lived, and it is said that he based several of his novels on people of the town. It's a pretty city.
Have you read DuMaurier's book "Vanishing Cornwall"? Fabulous detail, including sites of her books.
Old Jan 20th, 2001, 10:35 PM
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I'm sorry I can't help you on your specific requests but you can visit the cottage where Thomas Hardy was born/spent many years in Dorset near Dorcester. It is surrounded by a beautiful garden and gives you a wonderful sense of place. Nearby is Aethelhampton House and Garden which are also worth a visit-- the whole area around Dartmoor is Hardy country.
Old Jan 20th, 2001, 11:43 PM
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Jane Austin lived at Chawton near Winchester. Her house is open daily from March to December and weekends the rest of the year. She moved to Winchester in 1817 and died at 8 College St, in the city
Old Jan 21st, 2001, 08:08 AM
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Don't know of any place there that's attached particularly to Aphra Behn, but she did grow up in Canterbury--a good place to soak up some Brit lit history in any case.
Old Jan 21st, 2001, 08:24 AM
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Oscar Wilde was born and brought up in Ireland, university at Oxford, in prison in Reading, and died in France (buried in Pere Lachaise).

Oxford would be good - Samuel Johnson was there and it is where Colin Dexter set all his Morse novels.

Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth and his parents house is open to the public, and the historic ships, including Nelson's HMS Victory, in Portsmouth are well worth a visit.
Old Jan 21st, 2001, 09:28 AM
wes fowler
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Visit your local bookstore or library and pick up a copy of the Blue Guides to London and England published by WW Norton. Both list writers and places they lived or worked as well as times of openings and closings of their dwellings.
Old Jan 21st, 2001, 10:29 AM
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Suggest a vist to the house in London where Samuel Johnson lived while compiling his dictionary. It's down a lane off Fleet Street and is maintained extremely well. Few people visit and there's time to talk to the Curator. i throughly enjoyed it. The house has a wbsite. Do a search on Johnson.
Old Jan 21st, 2001, 11:23 AM
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I have a book called A Readers Guide to Writers' Britain by Sally Varlow published in 1996 in Great Britain. Jane Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral. There is a home there on College Street that has a plaque. She died nearby. She lived in the Hampshire town of Steveton, in Bath, in Southhampton, and Chawton. In Chawton, there is a house remaned Jane Austen's House that is a small museum.She also spent time in Sidmouth near Devon. Oscar Wilde spent a lot of time with other authors at a cafe in London calleed Cafe Royal on Regent Street and in Picadilly. The book says he traveled frequently.
The book refers to Aphra Behn-"The adventures of Mrs. Aphra Behn began with her baptism in 1640 iat St. Gergory and St. Martin in the village of Wye. She went to South American with her parents, and to Holland to spy for CharlesII. She was buried in Westminster Abbey in1689".
Old Jan 21st, 2001, 12:29 PM
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To somewhat repeat what was just said, and this time from the Oxford Literary Guide to the British Isles
Wilde educated Enniskillen, Dublin and Oxford
Lives in Chelsea, London, visits Rossetti in Cheyne Walk Chelsea
Frequents Café Royal in Mayfair, imprisoned Reading

Behn thought to have been baptised in Wye , buried in Westminster Abbey

Austen, born and lives in Steventon, educated Oxford and Reading ;
Visits Allington, Goodnestone, Godmersham, Great Bookham and London ( Lambeth);
Lives in Bath visits teignmouth and Dawlish, Ramsgate, Dartford, Lyme Regis and Adlestrop,
Lives in Southampton
Lives in Chawton vists Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London and Box Hill
Died and buried in Winchester. Memorial Lyme Regis
Old Jan 21st, 2001, 04:23 PM
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Alloway (near Ayr, Scotland) has excellent Robert Burns centre, cottage and other associations.

Bath has Jane Austen house in Gay St plus other ex-home in Bathwick.
Old Jan 21st, 2001, 07:09 PM
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If you rent a car, don't miss the Lake District National Park in the north of England. William Wordsworth made his home at Grasmere, a village today that celebrates the poet. You can visit his cottage and the museum, and you can see the field of golden daffodils (in bloom March-April). Travel up the M6 past Lancaster, then turn off to Kendal, Windermere, and Ambleside (all worth a visit too).
Old Jan 22nd, 2001, 04:25 AM
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a few more details on Austen
The phone number of the museum-house is 01 42 08 3262. Their email address is
[email protected]

This website ( has an essay on
Chawton House, Jane Austen's home and museum. You might also be interested in the report from a Jane Austen of North America Tour of England at
Some people feel that
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire may have been the model for Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice
Chatsworth House:

Not too far from York is
Castle Howard, definitely the model for
Brideshead in "Brideshead Revisited"
I went there and it is wonderful.
And then of course the Brontes were also from Yorkshire
Bronte house, Haworth Parsonage

Old Jan 22nd, 2001, 06:03 AM
Beth Anderson
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You didn't mention an interest, but I'll tell you anyway - Beatrix Potter is also from the Lake District. I THINK Windermere, but my memory is getting foggy.

Even without a literary reason to go, you should try to make it to the Lake District anyway - beautiful beautiful place to relax...

Old Jan 22nd, 2001, 12:47 PM
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I second the Samuel Johnson house, if you're a fan, as I am. I spent some time just sitting on the top floor, alone with the ghosts. (no, there isn't any ghost or suspected ghosts, to my knowledge.) But the sense of the man was great. The curator/employees are delightful. Nearby is the pub Johnson frequented with his literary gang - don't remember the name. Read the biography first.
Old Jan 22nd, 2001, 04:18 PM
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Dear Aphra,
One of my favourite literary haunts is Lyme Regis in Dorset (near Hardy country). I walked along the Cobb, thinking of Louisa Musgrave in Persuasion by Jane Austen and also the French Lieutenant's Woman, which was also set here. The author, John Fowles is a local.
Further along in Devon is Dartmoor, home of the Hound of the Baskervilles, then we arrive in Cornwall. On Bodmin Moor is the Jamaica Inn, inspiration for Daphne du Maurier's book of the same name.
Shrewsbury is the fictional home of Brother Cadfael, Ellis Peters' mystery solving monk. You can see what is left of the Abbey and the Shrewsbury Quest across the road has Ellis Peters' study. I always tour Britain with my favourite books in mind. Enjoy!
Old Jan 22nd, 2001, 05:02 PM
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Authors: Kipling & Churchill....Both have beautiful (former) homes you can visit in the southeast: Rudyard Kipling's "Bateman's" near Burwash in East Sussex, and Churchill's "Chartwell" near Westerham in NW Kent. People forget that Churchill was also one of England's great non-fiction authors, like the whole history of WWII.
Old Jan 24th, 2001, 01:09 PM
Q. P.
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There's plenty to see in London that is associated with Wilde. Get yourself a copy of Choral Pepper's _Walks in Oscar Wilde's London_ (1992) and have a great time!

Let me also suggest an out of the way literary landmark with a quiet charm of its own: the Carlyles' house in Chelsea. Surviving early Victorian domestic interiors are quite rare, and this one is perfect--not so much restored as simply unchanged from when Jane and Thomas Carlyle lived there. (His hat is on the peg in the hallway and you expect them to walk into the room at any moment.) You'll enjoy a visit there most, of course, if you read a bit by and about both of them (their letters are especially wonderful) but in any case the house at 24 Cheyne Row is really something special.

I've read and used a lot of literary guides and my favorite for London is still G. G. Price's _Guide to Literary London_, now long out of print. See if your library has it, though--the walks are great, and include a lot of obscure but colorful literary figures that the ordinary guides leave out.

Old Jan 24th, 2001, 01:29 PM
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I second The Lakes District - bautiful! If you like Wordswoth you can see Dove Cottage in Grasmere - it is arranged as it was during Wordsworth's tenancy. This area was the scene of some of his most creative years. Thomas De Quincy (The Confefssions of an English Opium Eater - talk about romantisim gone wild) lived in the cottage after Wordsworth. There is a Wordsworth museum and Dorothy Wordsworth is buried in a little church in the town. Anyway, the area is lovely.
Old Jan 28th, 2001, 02:46 PM
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Quite a selection of sites--I may just have to move there for a while to get it all in! Thanks to all for the great advice!

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