There are lots of beautiful literary cities around the world filled with book themed sculptures, fountains, bookstores, and even buildings, but that is a list for another day. In the wake of recent Book Lovers Day (9 August), let’s instead look at literary cities that have become go-to destinations for book lovers.
Literary tourism has been around for centuries, from Shakespeare fans flocking to Stratford in the 18th century, to Harry Potter fans swarming Edinburgh in the past few years, these cities have inspired authors and book lovers alike. Combine your love for books and travel with these 6 literary cities.
Paris is already a top travel destination and its host of literary-inspired things to do merely make the City of Lights more attractive to bibliophiles. It has long been a hub of literary greats like Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Henry Miller, and many others. You can visit the vibrant neighbourhoods of Montmartre and Montparnasse, or the many booksellers (bouquinistes) that line the Seine. Also, stop at the famous Shakespeare & Company bookshop (pictured) opened in 1919.
Everyone can find something to interest them in London, especially book lovers. This great city has been home to countless famous writers. Many are now buried at the famous Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey (pictured), including Tennyson, Browning, Lewis Carroll, Dickens, and Kipling and countless others. In London, you can also visit the British Library and its many ancient books and manuscripts, browse the second-hand bookshops on Charing Cross Road, or visit one of the many pubs and coffee houses where great writers met. There are also many other exciting things to do in London.
Often called the ‘Athens of America,’ Boston was the centre of American literature in the 19th century. While it is home to the famous Old Corner Bookstore and hosts the annual Boston Book Festival, it is the nearby Concord which was home to the likes of Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Here you can visit Emerson House, Orchard House (where L. M. Alcott wrote Little Women), and the Olde Manse (which was home to both Emerson and Hawthorne) (pictured). You can also visit the nearby Berkshires and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Before Paris, Rome was the literary capital of Europe during the Romantic period of the early 19th century. Keats, Shelly, Byron, and Goethe all lived and wrote here. You can visit the houses of Goethe, Keats, and Shelly around the city, or visit one f the city many excellent libraries. There are guided tours of the Biblioteca Casanatense, the library of the National Institute of Archaeology, and the extensive Vatican Library among others.
5New York City
Perhaps the most vibrant city in America, New York City has been home to major writers for a century. Arthur Miller, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Tennessee Williams wrote in this city, along with countless others in recent times. New York itself, much like London, has served as the backdrop for classics like The Catcher in the Rye, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and American Psycho. You can also visit the famous Strand Bookstore, a treasure trove for book lovers that sell everything from new, used, rare, and even out of print books. Or, you could visit some of the city’s iconic landmarks that are featured in your favourite books.
Edinburgh is often called the literary capital of the United Kingdom. It was home to Sir Walter Scott, who redefined Scottish identity, along with other greats like Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, J. M. Barrie, and George MacDonald. And while Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous character, Sherlock Holmes, was a resident of London, the man himself was born in Edinburgh. In more recent times, the city has become famous for its connections to J.K. Rowling and her famous Harry Potter series. The city also hosts the vibrant Edinburgh International Book Festival each year.
Of course, there are lots of other destinations around the world for book lovers to visit. The most famous of these other literary cities are perhaps Dublin and Venice, but there are also many other lesser known literary destination you can check out. If we’ve forgotten any, be sure to mention them in the comments below.