They say that readers can travel the world without ever leaving their home, just through the magic of words. “In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own,” wrote Anna Quindlen in How Reading Changed My Life. However, if you love to travel too, we’re bringing back the Reading Addicts roadtrip starting with Britain. So, pack your bags (and don’t forget a rain coat) and join us on a literary tour of England, Scotland and Wales.
The Lake District
The Complete Tales – Beatrix Potter
Spending many childhood holidays in The Lake District, its stunning setting and wildlife influenced her vivid children’s stories of sentient animals like Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck and Mrs Tiggywinkle. Squirrel Nutkin sailed on Derwentwater, Hawkshead was the setting for The Tale of Johnny Townmouse and Mr Brock the Badger shares his name with the lakeshores of Brockhole.
Whitby, North Yorkshire
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Follow in the footsteps of Stoker’s gothic novel and the vampire Dracula, in dog form, as he flees the wreckage of his ship, into the nearby graveyard and up the 199 steps to the ruins of Whitby Abbey. Much of Bram Stoker’s inspiration for his dark novel came from Whitby including the name of Dracula’s victim, Swales, whose name can be found on a tombstone in the graveyard of St Mary’s church. Dracula’s name too came from time spent in Whitby library where Stoker learnt of Vlad the Impaler who was known as ‘Dracula’ meaning the son of the dragon and devil in Wallachian (a language which originates in Romania), and if you know the tale of Dracula you will remember the character originates from Transylvania, Romania.
Jamaica Inn – Daphne du Maurier
Jamaica Inn, built in 1750 as a coaching inn for weary travellers and smugglers alike became the setting for Daphne du Maurier’s novel of the same name published in 1936. Du Maurier was inspired to write the novel after she and a friend became lost in the fog of Bodmin Moor in 1930 and were led to the safety of Jamaica Inn by their horses. While recovering from their terrifying adventure, the local vicar is said to have entertained du Maurier with tales of ghosts and the hidden world of smugglers.
Ashdown Forest, Sussex
Winnie-the-Pooh – A.A. Milne
Hundred Acre Wood, the home of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends; Piglet, Tiger, Eeyore, Owl, Kanger and Roo, and Christopher Robin is thought to be based on Ashdown Forest in Sussex. A.A. Milne lived in the village of Hartfield, Sussex on the edge of the forest and Hundred Acre Wood is said to be inspired by parts of the woodland. What’s more, E.H. Shepard’s illustrations for the books are also based on actual places there.
Under Milk Wood – Dylan Thomas
Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas called Laugharne, the place he called home for the last 4 years of his life, “the strangest town in Wales”. It was the setting and people of this Carmarthenshire town that inspired his “Play for Voices”, Under Milk Wood.
“To begin at the beginning: It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters’-and-rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea.”
The Outlander series – Diana Gabaldon
American author, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels, and the TV adaptation of the same name, are set predominately in the rural landscapes of Scotland’s Highlands. Set in 1946, the book’s protagonist Claire goes to the Scottish Highlands for her honeymoon but one afternoon she steps through a circle of standing stones and ends up in dangerous and violent Scotland of 1743.
King’s Cross, London
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
Pack your trunk, grab your wand and don’t forget your ticket when you head to King’s Cross, London. Join fellow classmate on the Hogwarts Express to J.K. Rowling’s school for witchcraft and wizardry. To get to Platform 9 ¾ follow Mrs Weasley’s advice, “All you need to do is walk straight at the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Don’t stop and don’t be scared you’ll crash into it, that’s very important. Best do it at a bit of a run if you’re nervous.”
The Yorkshire Moors
Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
Emily Brontë and her sisters grew up in Haworth Parsonage and the Yorkshire moors that surrounded it. It is these harsh landscapes that inspired Brontë’s gothic and darkly twisted tale of love, loss and revenge, Wuthering Heights and the lands that doomed lovers; Cathy and Heathcliff played upon as children and walked as adults.
Northern Lights – Philip Pullman
While Philip Pullman’s ‘Oxford’ exists in an altered fantasy where humans have daemon companions, a part of their soul that exists in animal form outside the body, it features much of the Oxford we know in our own world. From the Bodleian Library and Oxford Colleges much like the fictional ‘Jordon College’ to the covered market and the Oxford Canal, Lyra’s stomping ground is a distorted version of Britain’s Oxford.