My favorite thrift shop has a large book section I love to browse because I never know what marvels I might stumble across there. On one recent visit, I found this book by Anna Quindlen, Imagined London: A Tour of the World’s Greatest Fictional City (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2004, ISBN 9780792265610.) I love reading. I love London. I love reading books set in London. Brilliant find! Some of the authors that inspired Quindlen’s London adventures discussed in this book are, Virginia Woolf, Margery Allingham, Nancy Mitford, John Mortimer, and of course, Charles Dickens. If you’d like to find out more about Anna Guindlen and her books, please click here: Anna Quindlen
We took a family trip to London in 2012 and one of the spots we visited in common with Quindlen was Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey. Over 100 English authors/poets are buried or honored here, including Robert Browning, Lewis Carroll, Jane Austen, and William Shakespeare. The first poet buried in Westminster Abbey was Geoffrey Chaucer in 1400! When you visit here, you’ll notice the vaulted ceiling soaring above you, and you’ll be surrounded by beautiful archways, stained glass windows, and statues. What an amazing way to pay tribute to your national treasures of literature. Out of all the photos we took while we were there, I can’t find any from Poet’s Corner! If you’d like more information, and to see official photos of Poet’s Corner, please click here: Poets’ Corner | Westminster Abbey (westminster-abbey.org).
While we were in London, I was hoping to see the “home” of Sherlock Holmes at 221B Baker Street, an address that did not actually exist when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the Holmes stories. Now, that address belongs to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. We were unable to make it there due to several road closures, so I guess I’ll have to plan another trip someday. Would you like to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum on your next trip to London? Make sure to click here for more information: Sherlock Holmes Museum – The official home of Sherlock Holmes (sherlock-holmes.co.uk). Want to know more about the man behind it all? You can find information about Doyle here: Arthur Conan Doyle – Licensing – Official Website of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Family Estate (conandoyleestate.com)
If you’re planning on going to Baker Street when you visit London, and you’ll be traveling with children, you may want to visit Paddington Station while you’re in the general area. Why? Do you remember Paddington Bear? In the 1950s, Michael Bond bought a stuffed bear for his wife, which they named Paddington since they lived near Paddington Station. Bond began to write stories about this bear, and in 1958 A Bear Called Paddington was published. A statue of the bear was commissioned by Bond and was unveiled in its new home in Paddington Station in February 2000. If you’d like to find out more about Bond and his famous bear, click here: Paddington
If you’re continuing on your adventure with your children (or even without), south of Paddington Station is Kensington Garden. While you’re strolling in the park and taking in the lovely views, you may come across the statue of Peter Pan, made famous by author JM Barrie. Peter first made his appearance in the 1902 adult novel, The Little White Bird or Adventures in Kensington Garden. Peter then made his way to Neverland in the 1904 play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. The statue has had its home in the Garden since 1912. If you’d like more information on Kensington Garden, please click here: The Peter Pan Statue – Kensington Gardens – The Royal Parks. For more information on JM Barrie, you can click here: The Largest Archive & Database of Scottish writerJ M Barrie
There is another stop I should mention. Book lovers young and old would enjoy a visit to the British Library. Not only does this magnificent structure maintain holdings of global historic and cultural significance, but it also contains a library of over 300,000 volumes. That’s a lot of books!! What’s even better? You don’t have to wait until the end of the pandemic to visit – you can visit virtually! Please click here for more information: How to explore the British Museum from home – The British Museum Blog. And while you’re in the area, continue on to the British Library. You’ll find originals of the Magna Carta, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in their holdings. To find out more about the British Library’s online exhibits and more, please click here: Online exhibitions – The British Library (bl.uk)
I hope you’ll find some points of interest here and will begin planning your own literary journey to London.
(Photo credit for picture of map in title box : London AZ Street Atlas)