If your summer travels take you to Great Britain, consider scheduling some time to soak in the locale’s rich literary history. Lovers of the written word and history enthusiasts rejoice – the homes of some of England’s most renowned writers are open for visitors to tour.
When writing about his home, poet William Wordsworth said:
“And now ’tis mine, perchance for life, dear Vale,
Beloved Grasmere (let the wandering streams
Take up, the cloud-capt hills repeat, the Name)
One of thy lowly Dwellings is my Home.”
Take a look at homes up for public viewings. You’ll notice right away that these aren’t minimalist writing retreats. Instead, the designs range from lush country cottages to dramatic expressions of classic Gothic architecture. These beloved writers lived (and wrote) in style.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
1. “When I was at home I was in a better place.” – William Shakespeare
Stratford-upon-Avon, a market town in England’s West Midlands, is synonymous with the world’s most famous playwright. The birthplace of the Bard, William Shakespeare was born and raised here on Henley Street, in a large timber-clad house. The structure still stands today and is home to a world-class collection of Shakespeare artifacts. Inside, the rooms have been fashioned to resemble how they would have looked in Shakespeare’s childhood. Take a step back to the 16th century on your visit, with costumed guides and actors performing both as characters from the Bard’s works and from his life.
Siobhan Doran Photography
2. “Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.” – Charles Dickens
Travel down to Bloomsbury, London, and stop by 48 Doughty Street. Here, you’ll find the atmospheric Charles Dickens Museum. During your visit, you’ll be immersed Dickens’s life both as a writer and a family man. The literary great’s former house has been curated to reflect how Dickens would have known it. Filling the home are pieces of Victorian furniture, period artwork, and the Dickens’s original writing desk, where the writer penned “Oliver Twist,” “The Pickwick Papers,” and “Nicholas Nickleby.”
Jane Austen’s House Museum
3. “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” – Jane Austen
Take a trip to Chawton Cottage to get a glimpse into the life of legendary author Jane Austen. Located in Hampshire, a county on the southern coast of England, this picturesque cottage is where Austen called home from 1809 until 1817. During her residence here, Austen completed her most famous novels, including “Pride and Prejudice”, “Emma,” and “Sense and Sensibility.” Now home to the Jane Austen’s House Museum, comfortable Chawton has been restored to reflect how the family home would have looked when the Jane Austen lived there.
4. “To withdraw myself from myself has ever been my sole, my entire, my sincere motive in scribbling at all.” – Lord Byron
Poetry enthusiasts and literary scholars alike have heralded Lord Byron as the greatest romantic poet of his time. Byron called Newstead Abbey home during various times from 1808 to 1814. Marked by gothic structures and a sweeping estate, there’s little doubt the poet’s signature verses were inspired the Newstead’s landscape. Today, the Abbey houses a collection of Byron’s possessions, romantic artwork from the era, and is scattered with other interesting relics of the Abbey’s long past.
Copyright Dylan Thomas Boathouse
5. “He who seeks rest finds boredom. He who seeks work finds rest.” – Dylan Thomas
Arriving in Laugharne in 1934 at the young age of 19, Dylan Thomas was immediately enchanted with the area. In 1938, Thomas moved his family there. Visitors will want to pay homage to the famous poet by visiting his famed boathouse. During the last four years of his life, Thomas resided on the boathouse in Laugharne to focus intently on his writing. This home on the water boasts terrace views of the Taf estuary and the Gower beyond. Situated below a cliff near the water’s edge, it’s easy to see how the location inspired Thomas’s works. Today, Thomas is interred at the village churchyard in Laugharne, which is also worth a visit while you’re there.