1 October 2017 Susannah

Statues of Literary Figures

Alice in Wonderland Central Park NYC

A rather topical issue at the moment is the pulling down of statues of controversial historical figures. When I travel around the world, I love seeing statues of famous writers, seeing which ones have been honoured by a statue. If you stroll in New York’s Central Park you’ll find Shakespeare, Hans Christian Andersen, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, as well as a statue of Alice in Wonderland (pictured above) and a fountain dedicated to Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Statue of author C.S. Lewis in Belfast

Statue of author C.S. Lewis in Belfast

In Wellington, NZ, there is a fabulous statue of Katherine Mansfield, and of course Basingstoke in England now has the world’s first statue of Jane Austen. Oxford, Mississippi has a wonderful statue of William Faulkner – you can sit next to him and pretend to have a chat. In Belfast there’s a square filled with the characters from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe so you can stroll around admiring the White Witch, Mr and Mrs Beaver, Aslan and Mr Tumnus, amongst others. I was enchanted by them all and loved the way that literary characters had invaded a public space.

Of course, councils (or the necessary authorities) have to decide whether it is best to create a statue of an author or of a character. In Oxford, England, a decision has recently been taken to design and erect a statue of Colin Dexter, rather than one of his Inspector Morse. The Inspector Morse Society has been planning this statue since Dexter died earlier this year. They hope it will be in bronze or marble, and will have a crossword at its base. Colin Dexter set his 13 novels in Oxford, and Morse tours of the city are a popular tourist attraction, so to me it seems a fabulous way to honour him.

I’d love to see more statues of authors put up around the world. Is there a writer you would like to see honoured in this way? Do you have a favourite statue of an author? Tell me by leaving a comment.

  Susannah Fullerton: Of Claire Tomalin and Katherine Mansfield
  Susannah Fullerton: Poem of the Month: January 2017, Robert Burns
  Susannah Fullerton: I Do Love a Nice Garden
  Susannah Fullerton: Literary Statues

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Featured image credit- Alice in Wonderland Central Park NYC. By Gzzz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22625860
Body image credit- Statue of author C.S. Lewis in Belfast, by Susannah Fullerton
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Comments (18)

  1. Margaret Debenham

    I, too, love statues of literary figures – I would much rather see them than statues of politicians or soldiers. I particularly love the statue of Washington Irving in the most beautiful setting, beside the Cuesta de Gomerez that climbs through the Alhambra Woods from downtown Granada to the Alhambra Palace(s). And his “Tales of the Alhambra” is a such a delightful read. Another favourite is the Cervantes monument in the Plaza de Espana in Madrid – Cervantes looks down on Don Quixote astride Rosinante and Sancho Panza on his donkey, with Aldonza (as Aldonza) on one side and Aldonza (as Dulcinea) on the other. Another favourite, one I always visit when I have the opportunity – not really a statue, but a painted bust – is Niccolo Machiavelli in his former office in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. And then there is the delightful statue of La Fontaine, accompanied by the Fox and the Crow, in the Jardin du Ranelagh in Paris, 16th arrondissement.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I have seen the fabulous Madrid one you mention, but none of the others. I obviously have to do more travel. Thanks for the suggestions.

  2. Hello! Being a Sydneysider, I would love to see a statue that honours a female writer. Perhaps May Gibbs, and her gumnut babies! It would be a nice counterbalance to all the sharp edged steel sculptures that have proliferated the city.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, great idea. Or one of Ethel Turner or Dorothea McKellar. It is a woeful lack in Sydney and ther are very few statues of women, authors or otherwise.

  3. Miland Joshi

    Its not a statue, but for fans of “84 Charing Cross road” there is a plaque commemorating Helene Hanff at the same location. In fact the ground floor of 84 Charing Cross together with the North-East Corner of Cambridge Circus is now occupied by a well-known fast food restaurant. Sadly the plaque now looks darkened or tarnished with age.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I do love that book but did not know there was a plaque. I must look fomr it next time I am in London. Thanks for letting me know.

  4. I recently passed through Maryborough, Queensland and found the statue of Mary Poppins in the city along with traffic lights for pedestrians with the image of Mary Poppins either with a closed umbrella ( green ) and an open umbrella (red). P.L. Travers certainly provided Maryborough with a tourist theme but most of all , her wonderful imagination created many lovely stories for young and old.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I had no idea there was a statue of Mary Poppins in Australia. Thanks so much for letting me know. I must get to see it some time. I love the traffic light idea too.

  5. Kelly

    There’s also a Mary Poppins statue in Glebe Park, Bowral (near Don Bradman museum) to honour the time PL Travers spent living in the beautiful Southern Highlands town. Well worth a visit!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Wow, I never knew that. I will go and take a photo next time I am in Bowral.

  6. Brian Doyle

    The question on the tips of everyone’s lips Susannah is where are we going to put your statue?

  7. Brian Doyle

    There is a shocking lack of females honoured in this way and those making the decisions on such matters need to be taken to task, after all there are so many to choose from and why shouldn’t you be on the list for services to the literary community, my vote is in the bag.

  8. Margaret Debenham

    Another lovely statue is that of Marguerite Yourcenar sitting under a tree near the entrance to (appropriately) Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli. Life-size, and rugged up against the cold.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      That sounds like a great statue. I do not know much about her, so must do some more reading.

  9. Margi Abraham

    I was surprised to come across a statue of James Joyce in Pula, in Istria, Croatia last year. He is seated at a table outside a café names Uliks (Ulysses) just near the Golden Arch. Apparently he taught English there for a short time after he exiled himself from Ireland. Having just read The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs, I don’t think I like the man (nor have been able to read much of his novels!) but I love this statue!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I would love to see that statue of Joyce in Pula. And several people have recommended ‘The Joyce Girl’ to me, so thwt is high on my reading list.like you, I do not like the man much, but his life is fascinating and there are some great statues of him.

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