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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.