Discover the landscapes that inspired and shaped some of the UK’s greatest authors and poets.
Scotland's most celebrated bard, Robert Burns, is renowned the world over. Author of famous poems such as Auld Lang Syne and Tam O' Shanter, Burns was born in Alloway. The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum here offers visitors a chance to experience the rich heritage of Burns within the environment that inspired his imagination. The museum owns an original manuscript of Auld Lang Syne.
The Pride and Prejudice author is known as one of the most acute observers of late 18th- and early 19th-century British society. Visit Steventon in Hampshire to see where Jane was born and the small church where she worshipped and explore the gorgeous World Heritage city of Bath where she later lived. She spent the last eight years of her life at Chawton in the 17th-century house which is now preserved in her memory as a museum.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll, whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was a mathematics don, and based his most famous character on Alice Liddell, the 10-year old daughter of the dean of Christ Church College, Oxford. Christ Church itself is the best place to begin exploring Alice’s Oxford. See the tree where the Cheshire Cat sat and discover Alice's special door to Wonderland. Stained glass in the Great Hall features characters from the books, and there’s also a portrait of Lewis Carroll.
England's greatest medieval poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, was born the son of a wealthy London vintner around 1345. His famous Canterbury Tales feature a motley bunch of pilgrims on their way to Canterbury to pray at Thomas Becket’s shrine. Make your own pilgrimage to this medieval city, tour the imposing cathedral and see where Becket was martyred. You can also visit the Canterbury Tales attraction where the stories are brought to life complete with medieval smells!
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1855 and studied medicine at Edinburgh University. Here he met Dr Joseph Bell, one of his lecturers, the persona for Sherlock Holmes. Holmes solves mysteries all over Britain but perhaps the most atmospheric is the Hound of the Baskervilles set on Dartmoor in Devon. Today, Dartmoor is still one of Britain's most dramatic landscapes, which is popular for cycling, walking, horseriding and other outdoor pursuits.
The rural county of Dorset is where Hardy spent most of his life. Visit Hardy’s picture-perfect cottage where he wrote Under the Greenwood Tree and Far from the Madding Crowd and the town of Dorchester, thinly disguised as Casterbridge in the Mayor of Casterbridge.
Ensconced in the inspiring landscape of the Lake District, William Wordsworth produced some of the most memorable poetry in the English language. Visit his two Lake District homes, Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount to see the scenery that moved him. If you want to see ‘a host of golden daffodils’, be sure to come in March.
Our second Lake District luminary, Beatrix Potter, was passionate about the natural world and her Lake District home. You can visit her charming cottage Hill Top which is full of her personal effects and watercolours as well as information about her beguiling stories. Out in the garden it’s not hard to imagine Peter Rabbit scampering among the flowers, fruit and vegetables that still grow today.
Sir Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott was fired from his earliest years by a patriotic love of his native Scotland - 'Caledonia' - which he eulogised in The Lay of the Last Minstrel. His novels and poems fashioned a heroic, romantic image of lochs, glens and ancient ruins which brought visitors flocking to ‘his’ Scottish Borders and The Trossachs. Today you can take a trip aboard the SS Sir Walter Scott on Loch Katrine, the setting for The Lady of the Lake.
The world's most performed playwright enriched Western culture with new words and dazzling imagery as no author before or since. From knockabout comedy to searing tragedy, he plumbed the landscapes of the human soul. Visit historic Stratford-upon-Avon to see five houses associated with William Shakespeare including Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. You can also see his grave with its mysterious curse.