Literary England - Susannah's Top Ten Places to Visit

A video talk

In 2003 I took my first tour group to England, and it was so exciting seeing beloved places through their eyes. I have taken tours to many other countries, but it is my English tours that are always the most popular. That means that there are some literary sites which I have visited more than a dozen times – and I have never felt sick of them.

I thought about the places I’d choose if I was asked to create the ultimate fantasy trip of English literary must-see locations.  Which places would I recommend to my best friend to visit?

So, after much deliberation, I now give you my Top Ten Literary Locations in England.

Rich in literary connections

I first went to England in 1980, with a long list of places I just had to see. All the places had literary associations – I had to see the homes of favourite novelists and poets, walk the paths they had trodden, pay my respects at their graves, and see with my own eyes the landscapes that had filled my imagination since I had learned to read.

I worked my way through that list, but forty years later I still have a list of yet more places I must one day visit. England is so rich in literary connections that it would be hard to find a village or city that does not have some fascinating association with an author.

“I said I’d go looking for the England of English Literature, and he nodded and said: ‘It’s there’.”
― Helene Hanff, American writer

From gentle countryside to dramatic landscapes

Of course, those of you who know me well will be easily able to guess my number 1 choice. In fact, it would have been very easy for me to choose all my Top Ten from Jane Austen-related sites alone, but I have restrained that urge and spread my choice more widely.

You will find in this talk a variety of authors and a variety of place too, from a library, to houses large and small, churches, a graveyard and an ancient charitable institution. I will take you from the gentle countryside of southern England, up to the more dramatic northern landscapes.

Not everyone is able to come on one of my literary tours, and I hope that this virtual travel will enchant and intrigue you. If you are planning a trip to England, hopefully I will have given you ideas of places to include in your itinerary. If you have visited them in the past, I hope I bring back wonderful memories.

A personal choice

My choice is, of course, a deeply personal one. These are sites that resonate with me, which move me deeply because of what they are in themselves and because of the great writer who worked there. You will have your own choice of favourite literary locations, you may query my selection. Believe me when I say that choosing only ten was an incredibly difficult task, and putting them in order of no. 10 up to no.1 was even more challenging.

What I hope this virtual talk will make you do is to consider which Top Ten places you would choose, and to consider with a deeper appreciation of the incredible riches of the England of English Literature.

Discuss it with me

What sort of literary places most excite you? Is it seeing a desk on which masterpieces were written, or standing in the spot where a favourite scene from a novel was filmed? Do you like to visit the graves of authors, or is it libraries and all the treasures they contain which really thrill you? I have carried certain books with me on my travels so that I could sit in exactly the right location and read a scene set there – have you done the same? Do you prefer to see special literary places on your own so that, undisturbed, you can wander, look and ponder, or would you rather travel with like-minded companions so that you can all share the excitement together? Let’s discuss it here.

I’d love to know about your favourite literary places in England. Join me in exploring “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”

Purchase the complete Virtual Talk (just $9)

At just $9 this Virtual Talk is a real video treat! In it, I count down through my 10 most favourite literary locations in England. You’ll have more than 1 hour of gorgeous armchair travel through this beautiful, historic country. This talk is illustrated with photographs, paintings, scenes from different film versions and book covers – you’ll have plenty to look at while you listen.

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Oh, Susannah, thank you, thank you! What a marvellous tour! You hit so many of my favourites and introduced me to ones I’ve missed.
Watching your video led me to make my own list. Chawton, of course, my #1 also.

Donna

We have just enjoyed your excellent tour of Literary England. Absolutely marvellous! We are so impressed with your presentation, your readings and overall commentary.
We learnt so much! We have visited only 5 of the 10. You’ve inspired us to visit some more on your list.

Ann

I did love escaping to literary England with you and reliving my own visits to most of these very special places, some made with you.
Watching the video reminded me that my mother was named Lorna after the heroine of the novel. I have her copy and in it are postcards of the valley of Exmoor my grandmother sent her in 1964, when, as a quite elderly woman, she made her first and only trip by ship overseas to England on her own literary and family history pilgrimage. I am ashamed to say I’ve never read ‘Lorna Doone’ but I grew up with the story of who she was and how she died. I hope to visit Oare Church but a virtual visit was such a treat.

Margi

This is armchair travel at its very best. Surrender to the charm of the English countryside as Susannah relates her 10 special literary destinations. It is a total joy to view and hear Susannah’s commentary on renowned writers and to learn more of their intimate lives while visiting their homes and villages. Don’t hesitate – just settle in for the hour and be transported without travel concerns.

Pamela

I’ve just finished watching your 10 Top Literary Places in England, Susannah, and loved it.
It was fun guessing what you would choose as the numbers went down – some were expected, others were surprises.

Anne

I’ve just watched this talk of yours and absolutely LOVED it!
I knew Chawton would be number one but I loved the variety of homes, towns, villages and places around the country.

Kenneth

Oh, Susannah, thank you, thank you! What a marvellous tour! You hit so many of my favourites and introduced me to ones I’ve missed.
Watching your video led me to make my own list. Chawton, of course, my #1 also.

Donna

We have just enjoyed your excellent tour of Literary England. Absolutely marvellous! We are so impressed with your presentation, your readings and overall commentary.
We learnt so much! We have visited only 5 of the 10. You’ve inspired us to visit some more on your list.

Ann

This is armchair travel at its very best. Surrender to the charm of the English countryside as Susannah relates her 10 special literary destinations. It is a total joy to view and hear Susannah’s commentary on renowned writers and to learn more of their intimate lives while visiting their homes and villages.

Don’t hesitate – just settle in for the hour and be transported without travel concerns.

Pamela

Instead of doing many things I should have been doing, I sat down at once and toured England with you, with great delight. Am saving Scandinavia for later. Your final choice was mine too, but many happy memories brought back when viewing the others.

Marjorie
Discuss it with me

I’d love to know about your favourite literary places in England. Let’s discuss it here.

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Featured image credit- Literary England – Top Ten Places to Visit, the Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire, England, http://wallpaperswide.com/england-wallpapers.html

Comments (6)

  1. Anne Makepeace

    I’ve just finished watching your 10 Top Literary Places in England, Susannah, and loved it. Seeing as we can’t actually travel at the moment, armchair travelling is the next best thing. It was fun guessing what you would choose as the numbers went down – some were expected, others were surprises. I’ve visited six out of your ten places, so it brought back pleasant memories as well as giving ideas for future travels. When I was in the UK last year, I sought out many Jane Austen places. As well as the predictable ones, I tried to find some of the more obscure ones – the Jane Austen statue in Basingstoke, Stoneleigh Abbey (and its infamous bridge), Lizzie’s Rock in the Peak District (as described in Amanda’s quest), the plaque on Henry’s bank in Henrietta St, Covent Garden. I think the place where I got the biggest buzz, was staying the night in the Teigh Old Rectory near Oakham, which was used as Hunsford Parsonage in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. It’s a lovely old building and its gardens and nearby church are delightful. Victoria, our B&B host looked after us very well. But, of course, the highlight was sleeping in Lizzie’s bedroom (with the cupboard with Mr Collins’ drawers) and sitting in the parlour where Mr Darcy made his first disastrous proposal. I sat and read the proposal scene and was in seventh heaven! Just as good as floating down the Gravel Walk in Bath or walking along The Cobb in Lyme Regis. I’d rate those as my three favourite literary places in England. Thanks for keeping us so well entertained in these challenging times.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I am so thrilled that you enjoyed it so much, Anne. Yes, armchair travel is all we can do at the moment, but I’m glad I have given you ideas for future trips. Oh I am envious of your night in Hunsford parsonage – all the other places, I’ve done, but not that one. Of course I would normally have had all top ten places Jane Austen-related, but thought I’d better make it of more general interest, so have to squeeze quite a few places into my No. 1, and the odd added reference here and there to JA. I always think of you when I visit the Gravel Walk!

  2. Suzanne Greta

    When visiting London in the early 80’s I discovered a bookstore that sold “84 Charing Cross Road “which I had read and thoroughly enjoyed.
    Then I discovered two more books by Helene Hanff which I purchased as a gift for my mother. They are “The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street”,
    a sequel to “84 Charing Cross Road “and “Q’s Legacy”, the wonderful journey to 84, Charing Cross Road. They are delightful stories and are now a part of my library collection..

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I’ve read and enjoyed The Duchess of Bloomsbury St (though didn’t think it was as good as 84 Ch. Cross Rd) but I didn’t know about Q’s Legacy – definitely one to get hold ot. Thanks so much for letting me know!

  3. Gaby Meares

    I’ve just finished your wonderful virtual tour of your favourite 10 literary destinations in England. It was wonderful, but made me sad. Who knows when we’ll be able to go back. I have a list as long as my arm of places to visit when we can finally fly again.
    One of my favourite literary destinations was visiting Hill Top. It was wonderful to see so many scenes from Beatrix Potter’s books for real! Another was Oxford. Having worked in libraries all my life, visiting the Bodleian Library in 2017 was a high point in my life! And having a pint in The Eagle and Child, sitting where the Inklings met and discussed their books.
    Thank you for your enthusiasm – it’s a wonderful distraction from the pandemic, and very much appreciated ❤️

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Thanks for your lovely comments, Gaby. I am delighted you enjoyed virtual travels around literary England with me. Yes, I share your sadness. I should have been there earlier this year and wonder when we might be able to travel to the UK again. My Top Ten places in Literary France talk will be ready by the 1st of Sept, so do hope you enjoy that one too.

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