For centuries, London has been home to some great literary figures, all of whom left their mark on the city. Every day Londoners brush with literary history, as many of the places frequented by notable London writers of generations past are still around today.
The year 2012 marks 200 years since the birth of Charles Dickens, one of London’s most famous literary names. Dickens, best known for A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, David Copperfield, and Oliver Twist (to name only a few), can be traced to spots all over London. His former home at 48 Doughty Street, where he lived from 1837 to 1839 is now the Charles Dickens Museum.
Dickens, along with other authors at the time, was known to settle in for a pint at The Lamb and Flag, and legend has it the sad, hermit proprietor of Dirty Dick’s was the inspiration for Great Expectations’ Miss Havisham.
The Spaniard’s Inn features in Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers, and was also frequented by notable poets Keats, Byron, and Shelley, as well as Robert Louis Stevenson, William Blake, Evelyn Waugh, and John Constable. Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and 1984 author George Orwell were well-known patrons of The Wheatsheaf, Virginia Woolf could often be found at the Fitzroy Tavern, and Museum Tavern used to host the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Ah, but what about the Bard? Well, it’s thought that Shakespeare sat at the bar at the George Inn, located not far from the Globe Theatre. Preserved under the National Trust as an historic English site, the George Inn’s history is perhaps even richer than that of its patrons.
Even in the modern era, notable literary figures have left their mark on London. While many fans of literature seek out historical literary landmarks that have survived hundreds of years, many other fans make a pilgrimage, of sorts, to more modern landmarks.
In fact, want to guess one of the most visited literary landmarks in London?
Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station.
There’s even a trolley, disappearing into the brick wall!
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