Travel a literary trail
Literary tourism is booming
Published 16 April 2012 in Featured Articles
The literary tourism business is booming. Each year bring more literary festivals and another big literary anniversary – this year it was Charles Dickens’ bicentenary. So there are many opportunities to take your travel tips from your reading and it’s easy to theme your next holiday around a favourite book or author. Visit the backdrops of much-loved novels to find out more about writers and their landscapes. Hit the literary trail – and don’t forget to load up your Kindle or pack a bag of relevant paperbacks. Read on for some intellectual inspiration.
Best of British
We’re not suggesting that you follow the journey in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and sail up-river in the Congo, but that novella does start and finish closer to home, in the Thames Estuary. The River Thames has a long history of literary references; perhaps the most famous is its role in Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, taking the characters from the outskirts of London towards Oxford on a rowing and camping holiday. If you don’t fancy taking the oars and roughing it, you could walk the Thames Path and take advantage of its many lovely inns and B&Bs as you travel westwards via Hampton Court, Marlow, Windsor and Henley-on-Thames.
London itself is rich literary territory, of course; from the Limehouse, Spitalfields and Clerkenwell of Peter Ackroyd and the Baker Street of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes to the Notting Hill of Colin MacInnes (Absolute Beginners) and Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, there’s plenty of scope for a literary pilgrimage. Dickens is one author who offers rick pickings: over the course of a few days you could easily take in the Holborn area and Lincoln’s Inn Fields which featured in many of his novels, and then head eastwards to the dockyards of Chatham in Essex and to his house in Broadstairs, Kent – where you can also see Bleak House itself.
If your tastes are more pastoral, how about exploring Thomas Hardy’s Wessex? This was a fictitious county he used to cover much of the South-West, centring on ‘Casterbridge’, his home town of Dorchester. Or you could travel through the spooky, isolated Fens of East Anglia, as featured in Graham Swift’s Waterland, perhaps? Or Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh?
On the Road
Voyaging further afield, every budding Beat has to drink coffee in San Francisco’s North Beach district, and trace at least part of Jack Kerouac’s journey as fictionalised in On the Road. While in California, there’s the Salinas and Monterey of John Steinbeck – not to mention Los Angeles as portrayed by crime writers such as Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy and Raymond Chandler.
Staying in Europe, you could follow the ‘Bloomsday’ trail – even if you can’t quite manage to read all of James Joyce’s Ulysses, it’s as good an excuse as any for a weekend in Dublin. There’s the Paris of Zola, Balzac and Colette, or Sartre, de Beauvoir and Camus – quite apart from the Paris as detailed by so many expatriates, such as Ernest Hemingway, Henry James, Gertrude Stein and Jean Rhys.
Hemingway fans should also see Spain (attendance at a bullfight is not compulsory!) and you can’t really understand Kafka until you’ve been to Prague and marvelled at the mysterious Castle. Equally sinister is the ‘Stasiland’ of Berlin and the former East Germany, as described by Anna Funder.
Wherever you go, and whatever your budget, one thing you shouldn't economise on is trip insurance. Medical bills abroad can be expensive, especially if you fall ill somewhere like the USA. Having appropriate cover can help make sure you receive the treatment you need. If you're a regular traveller, buying an annual travel policy could be a good idea too. Another possible way to make some savings is by shopping around in advance for your foreign currency. Search online for the best exchange rates before you go.
Issued by Sainsbury’s Finance
Sainsbury’s Finance is a trading name of Sainsbury’s Bank plc. All information correct at time of publication, but may be subject to change. Any views or opinions expressed in this article are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any part of the Sainsbury’s Group of companies.
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