1 June 2020 Susannah

Literary Travel – My Top Ten

Literary Travels

In her gorgeous book 84 Charing Cross Road Helene Hanff states that she goes to England to find “the England of English Literature”. That’s always been my reason for visiting England – nothing means as much to me as a place connected with a much-loved author or the spot where a poem or novel is set. The photo you see here is my 2019 Exploring the Literary Landscapes of England tour group.

Literary England – My Top Ten

I first went to England when I was 20 – I think I was almost shaking with excitement on those first days in London. Then I began to see the glories of the English countryside and villages. I remember my first bus ride in the Cotswolds, when I just longed to call out to the driver to ‘slow down’ so that I could see things properly.

I should have been in England on the day you receive this newsletter, but thanks to Covid-19 I will not be travelling, nor will the group of excited literary tourists I should have been taking with me. So, instead of sitting thinking sadly of all I should have been seeing, I decided to create a virtual talk about my Top Ten literary places in England. I must say that choosing only ten, and then ranking them, was an incredibly challenging task. I have not included any places in London (there will be a separate talk about that great city) and possibly I have left out some of your favourite spots.

It’s a personal journey, based on travels on my own and then over many years of leading literary tours in England. I hope you will enjoy the quotes and readings I have included, the anecdotes about different authors, and beautiful views of the places I love most in England. There are no prizes for guessing which is my No 1 Literary Destination, not only in England, but in the world, but you might find that the other nine offer you some surprises.

Join my virtual tour to England and visit my Top Ten literary destinations.

Literary Scandinavia – My Top Ten

I’ve also been working hard to get my virtual talk on my Top Ten places in Literary Scandinavia completed in time for this newsletter.

I found that when I first mentioned to people that I was leading a literary tour of Scandinavia, they often looked rather blank and then asked me what Scandi writers there were. I soon reeled off a list – Hans Christian Andersen, Karen Blixen, Astrid Lindgren, Thor Heyerdahl, Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell, Sigrid Undset, and the list goes on. This talk will take you to places connected with some very familiar authors, but might also introduce you to a few new ones.

Sweden, Denmark and Norway offer some fabulous literary destinations, with crime novels, fairy tales, book towns and literary walking tours. I even include one surprise author you’d probably never guess. And I let you share in the best literary guided walk I have ever experienced.

Come with me to the lands of fjords and valleys, Scandi Noir, and castles on a very different sort of armchair literary journey.

Join my virtual tour to Scandinavia and visit my Top Ten literary destinations.

Over to you

Are you one of my past travelling companions? Where did you go, South of France, Italy, perhaps the USA? Which places would you like to see next from your armchair, or would you love to recommend to others who haven’t been there yet? Please tell me your suggestions in a comment below.

One lovely lady told me that she has purchased several copies of my virtual talks and tours to send to her friends as small gifts for birthdays. I think that this is a really thoughtful gift and easy to arrange during isolation, but also any time. Can you think of someone who would enjoy virtual travel?

I’m desperately hoping that I’ll be able to recommence literary tours in person by next year, but revisiting England and Scandinavia has helped me relive the absolute joy of showing these special locations to like-minded people. I do hope you will enjoy my first two virtual tours also.

Leave a comment.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until approved.
I only recommend books I have read and know. Some of these links are my affiliate links. If you buy a book by clicking on one of these links I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help cover the cost of producing my free newsletter.
Header image credit- Literary England – Top Ten Places to Visit, the Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire, England, http://wallpaperswide.com/england-wallpapers.html

Comments (14)

  1. Jaki Ilbery

    About 20 years ago I was in New York idling through the Manhattan telephone directory when I came across Helene Hanff’s phone number. Figuring if it was out there she wouldn’t mind, I called her.
    She was delighted that I had enjoyed her book in Australia and even seen the play. She could not have been friendlier and told me about another of her books called, I think The Apple of my Eye. It was about New York and I liked it a lot.
    It was a never too be forgotten encounter.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Good on you for phoning, and what a memorable experience. If I have really loved the book, I do sometimes write to the author to say thanks for all the enjoyment, but I haven’t yet phoned a famous writer up!

    • Andrea

      I love this story about Helene Hanff, I have read all her books beginning with 84 Charing Cross Road, progressing to The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street (usually in the same book as Charing Cross) and then finding and reading Apple of My Eye (about writing a guide book for New York and living like a tourist in her own city), Underfoot in Show Business (her beginnings as an apprentice playwright in New York) and Q’s Legacy (the influence of Quiller-Couch on her writing and her tastes in literature), they’re all fabulous. I’ve also read Pastore’s biography Helene Hanff: A Life which says something to the effect that she never minded when her fans sought her out to tell her how much they enjoyed her work, he in fact was one of those. On the experience of contacting a famous writer, I have two. I have always loved the Miss Read books and have all of them. Years ago I knew a girl in Bath in the UK who worked for Miss Read’s publisher and I was coincidentally going on a trip to the UK. When my friend found this out and knew how much I loved Miss Read’s books, she arranged for me to go to her house, meet her and have afternoon tea. It was a surreal experience, she was a lovely lady. I had taken my favourite book (Further Afield) which she signed for me and also gave me another copy of it, also signed and happily posed for a photo. It was one of my trip highlights I must say. The other experience I had was writing to Joanna Trollope to let her know how much I enjoyed her books in general and how I had all of them, she wrote back saying that she thought that was lovely and how appreciative she was of fans letting her know how much they enjoyed her work, that people were reading what she had worked on. And although I have never had any encounter with her, on that long ago trip to the UK, I also had in my luggage a copy of Jilly Cooper’s The Common Years which recounts in diary form her ten years living on Putney Common and whose walk I recreated by taking a taxi along the Richmond Road, getting out at Putney Common and walking the route she would often take with her dogs. Now of course you can look these things up on Google Maps, in 1992 you could not but I know which encounter was the better one and it wasn’t google maps!

      • Susannah Fullerton

        Thanks for your interesting response, Andrea. I also love Helena Hanff’s books, but have never read Q’s Legacy so will add that to my list.
        I LOVED The Common Years by Jilly Cooper – it was such a fun book, with all the dogs and neighbours.
        How fabulous for you to meet Miss Read. I’ve enjoyed her books, and also Joanna Trollope’s novels, but they are not amongst top favourites for me.
        I hope 2023 is filled with good books for you.

  2. Sally Petherbbridge

    Have really enjoyed your two virtual tours so far and look forward to more. I went on your literary tour of Ireland in 2018 so would love to see your top 10 in Ireland but any others would be fine too. I plan to watch them all.

    By the way, I lived in Stockholm in 1972 and 1973 so was pleased to see the apartment building where I lived in your tour of Stockholm – it’s in the part of Stockholm where the rich bad people live!



    • Susannah Fullerton

      Sally, I am so glad you have enjoyed my virtual tours so much. I am grateful for the support in this difficult time. I do have Literary Ireland on my list, but it might take a while before I get to it. I have promised to do Literary France next.
      How amazing that you spotted your old apartment building! I hope you are rich, but I know you are not bad!!!! Did you learn to speak any Swedish while you were there?

      • Sally

        I learned some Swedish but didn’t learn to speak it. I can still occasionally decipher simple Swedish. I did my last two years of high school by correspondence at that time (my father was working there) and also learning French and German. That seemed like enough languages, but having some German helped me to guess Swedish words.

  3. Susannah Fullerton

    Thanks for your suggestion, Stacey. I have already made a list of my Top Ten places in Literary France and hope to start on the talk in the coming weeks. I need a couple of weeks to catch up on other things after all the work creating the last two talks – finding so many wonderful pics and recording my talk is a really big job.
    My newsletter will keep you posted.

  4. Stacey

    Hi Susannah !

    I would love to see a virtual talk on Southern France. I visited last year, but due to its vastness, I hopefully will go back and this time be a little more organised, as there’s so many beautiful literary spots to visit.


  5. Kelly

    Susannah, you had me at 84 Charing Cross Road! A long-time favourite of mine. I should have been planning my own English literary adventure right about now, but instead took comfort in your delightful virtual tour. Lamb House was always on my list & you have inspired me to add a few more. Thank you!
    PS. I saw your #1 coming a mile away. Top of my list too. ☺️

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I am so glad you share my no. 1, and also that the virtual talk gave you some ideas of fabulous palces to visit. Let’s hope we can travel again soon.

  6. Sue

    Hi Susannah,
    As usual loved reading your news. Last time I emailed we were trading crime favourites and you recommended Julia Chapman and the Dales books. I love them and the mood is perfect for now… I need to find that village and do a dating session organised by Delilah. Thank you for the tip.
    When you mentioned Scandiwriters- another favourite- I wondered if you have read any Camilla Lackerberg- another great series.
    Do you ever do any literary tours based on detectives ? Oxford for Morse, Dales for inspector Banks and Delilah?
    Hope you’re keeping safe and well. Thank you again for the great literary info.
    Kind regards
    Sue Scott

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, I love Camilla Lackberg and have read all of them. I believe there is a TV series of her novels, but I haven’t been able to find out where to watch it. Have you seen them?
      So glad you enjoyed the Dales mysteries – I agree they make perfect Covid reading. I’m currently enjoying a crime novel set in Malmo in Sweden – Mourning in Malmo by Torquil MacLeod. The first in hsi series is ‘Meet Me in Malmo’ which is good and I’ve enjoyed all his. And I have a new Maggie Hope book by Susan Elia Macneal to enjoy soon.
      I do take my tour people to places connected with crime fiction. If you watch my new Scandinavian Top Ten virtual talk you will learn about some fabulous crime writers. But I’ve never done a Morse tour in Oxford (only give talks about Morse in Oxford). I adore the Dales and if my tour takes place next year which goes to that part of England, I’ll include Delilah.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *