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Literary Tour England

Have two-three weeks to spend in England. Would like to focus on the museums, places, and landscapes associated with Jane Austen, Beatrix Potter, Virginia Woolf, and the Brontes. Advice and suggestions most appreciated.

Posted by
3452 posts

I can only comment on two and have another suggestion. We've taken the Jane Austen walking tour in Bath--was OK.

I found myself in the Lake District one fall, without a car, so I made an effort to get to Beatrix Potter's Hill Top farm. This was a pilgrimage for me as a librarian and children's lit professor to see the inspiration for much of her artwork insitu. We were staying in Windermere and our hotel had a brochure with ferry and walking directions so this is what I did. Had I had more time I would have walked on to the little museum in Hawkshead. I went in September of 2001 and there were only a few tourists at the small home that day. I understand that it can be busy in summer season so depending on when you plan to visit you may want to prebook.

In London there is a rotating collection of her work usually at the Victoria and Albert Museum. For the ultimate literary experience you should not miss the fantastic exhibits from major authors and playwrights at the British Library!

EDIT: BTW I didn't go to very commercialized looking Beatrix Potter World or whatever that extravaganza was called in Windermere.

Posted by
16887 posts

This fall, I quite enjoyed both Hill Top Farm (seeing many features which had been painted into the books) and the Hawkshead museum (which rotates its exhibit of original artwork annually). If you want to sleep closer to that location, I can recommend, or there are a few even closer to Hill Top. We had a car for this.

Posted by
6112 posts

The places associated with the four authors that you have mentioned are not particularly close to one another.

I assume that you are flying into London. You may want to purchase overseas National Trust membership.

The area most associated with Virginia Woolf are villages near Lewes. Monk's House in Rodmell is her former home and is owned by the NT. She also visited Charleston nearby, the centre of the Bloomsbury set, which is also open to the public. Visit Sissinghurst gardens less than an hour away.

You would then need to drive to Hampshire. Jane Austen spent her childhood in Steventon at the vicarage. Her time in Bath were her literary barren years, although you wouldn't think that from the amount of walking tours etc there. Most of her works were written in Chawton, Hampshire, where she died.

You then have a long journey to the north. Everything you need to see about the Brontes is in Haworth. Parking there is difficult in summer at the weekend.

Your last port of call is the Lake District for all things Beatrix Potter. The NT own Hill Top Farm - be prepared to be overrun with Japanese tourists! There is also the gallery in Hawkshead with her artwork.

Posted by
167 posts

From January 10-February 19 there will be a Jane Austen exhibit at the British Library. Even if you are not in London for the exhibit you should visit the Sir John Ritblat Treasures of the British Library. It is such an impressive collection and you may be able to see some items by the authors you mentioned. For more info the website is:

Posted by
8293 posts

According to a biography of Virginia Woolf that I read, with the money from her first published book she had indoor plumbing and a WC put in Monk's House. She was so pleased with this that at first she would go upstairs just to flush the toilet and marvel at the luxury. I love that this was such a life changing convenience for her.

Bath and Winchester for Jane Austen however if you love the BBC productions then I would suggest a visit to Lacock which was featured heavily in Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth.
The Lake District for Beatrix Potter - there is her old farm plus a few little museums etc. She owned a number of farms in the Lake District and then gifted them to the National Trust.
For the Brontes it's Yorkshire and I'm thinking Haworth...possibly!

You should be easily able to visit all these places and a few more spots in between.


Posted by
8293 posts

The house in Winchester has a sign in the window, which is right next to the sidewalk and thus quite evident, to remind passersby that it a "private house". No doubt the residents had had enough of Austin fans ringing their door bell.