Sure, London is one of the most visited cities in the world, and sure, there is a lot to do. Historic sights, exciting attractions, more museums than you can count… the question when visiting London is not what to do, its what you can afford not to do. But if you’re like me, literary hotspots take priority on vacations; and London is full of them. So ditch the touristy spots and head to one of thee five places you can’t miss if you’re a book lover:
- The British Library- A working library, some of the British Library is off limits to guests, however, you’ll find an array of literary treasures inside. A copy of the Gutenberg Bible, a Beowulf manuscript, and one of Jane Austen’s original writing desks are just a few of the treasures you’ll find. Be sure to visit the King’s Library, the instantly recognizable tower of books in the center of the Library. If nothing else, this is a great place to grab coffee with a friend or get some reading done.
- Bloomsbury- Located in the West End of London, Bloomsbury is famous for its many garden squares. Many do not know that this area is also home to some fascinating literary history as well. Virginia Woolf lived nearby, and Tavistock Square, located within Bloomsbury, is where she thought up the idea for a novel that would eventually become To The Lighthouse. The likes of Vera Brittain, Charles Dickens, and William Yeats all lived in and around Bloomsbury. Their homes are marked with placards so the public can tour the area.
- Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre- If you’re a Shakespeare fan, (which, let’s admit, you’re on one side or the other here), what better way to experience his work than to visit the Globe Theatre, where some of his best works were performed. Of course, the original Globe was destroyed by fire in 1613, so this one is a close recreation. Seeing a play here is surreal nonetheless. To experience what it would have been like in Shakespeare’s time, buy a standing ticket for just 5 pounds. Standing on your feet for two hours may not seem appealing at first, but the time flies!
- The George Inn- The George Inn dates back to the 17th century, and once existed as an inn serving coach travelers. It is the location where Charles Dickens frequented, and referred to in Little Dorrit. Today, it is recognized as the oldest surviving inn of its design. It’s location in central London attracts hundreds of tourists each day, so be prepared to wait a bit. Well worth it!
- 221B Baker Street– This is the fictional home of detective Sherlock Holmes, made famous by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his Sherlock Holmes novels. 221B Baker Street now houses the Sherlock Holmes museum as well as a statue of Mr. Holmes himself. The museum recreates the flat that Holmes shares with his partner, John Watson, in the novels. The recent recreations of Sherlock, the films starring Robert Downey Jr. and the television show starring Benedict Cumberbatch, have spurred lots of interest in this particular location recently. You’ll often find a line outside the museum, but the vivid depictions of a Victorian style home are well worth the wait!
Natalie is a senior at the University of Kentucky double majoring in Secondary English Education and English with a minor in Psychology. She studied abroad during her junior year in the beautiful London, England at King’s College.