Literary itineraries are a small niche of the travel industry. However, they have seen a growth spurt recently. Thanks to several large book series taking to the big and small screens, literary travels are booming. There are many ways to create a literary-themed itinerary. You can explore the home of a famous author. Perhaps you can follow the journey of a beloved character. The regional setting/location of a book or series of books is a great idea.
Let’s look at all of these and Go Learn Things…….
Authors Worthy of Literary Travels
- Shakespeare remains larger than life all these centuries later. His first play was written in 1590. The Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust offers tours of his birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon, UK. The Globe Theatre in London still presents his plays and tours of the facility, although it is not the original from 1600’s. Atlas Obscura details 8 destinations from Shakespeare’s plays that you can visit.
- Jane Austen. 2016 ushered in a total of 5 Jane Austen based movies. Not the least of which was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Honestly, I don’t get the Jane Austen thing. I am an avid reader, but I have never made it all the way through one of her novels or the subsequent movies. Nonetheless, there is no judgement in literary travels so if your heart goes pitter-patter over Mr. Darcy there is plenty of Jane Austen countryside to visit in the U.K. The renowned Smithsonian Magazine shares how to tour her English countryside.
- Dickens is more my style with all of his dark notions of redemption. Richard Jones the author of Walking Dickensian London gives daily walking tours that take you back in time to a Dickens’ London. His London home at 48 Doughty Street is now the Dickens Museum.
- Hemingway was quite a traveler himself. He followed the wars in Europe during the mid-20th century. Taking him to Italy, France and Spain. When putting together a Hemingway literary trip you could follow the routes in his books or visit his homes/museums in Havana and Key West.
- Laura Ingalls Wilder is a local favorite here in Wisconsin and across the northern plains. This is a popular way to road trip across the country. This website is a listing of all historic homes, towns, manuscript archives and experiential settlements related to the Little House series. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Pepin, WI is the first stop on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway. Pepin represents the setting of the first book, Little House in the Big Woods.
- Dan Brown My fellow blogger over at EverydayWanderer has a post on following Dan Brown novels through Europe. His novels are set in great cities like London, Paris and Rome.
Books Into Blockbusters Inspire Literary Travels
Most of the selections below are deep series with beloved characters. Rather than searching for the author the fans are searching for the vicarious experience. All of these have been adapted to the big screen (with the exception of Outlander on STARZ and Game of Thrones on HBO TV) so the scenes have evolved from a readers imagination to gorgeous on-location cinematography.
- Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Like Dickens, Sherlock epitomizes an era in London.
Tourism in London embraces this character. Many agencies offer a Sherlock Holmes Walk.
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling is truly magical. This is a fantasy series so obviously there is no real Hogwarts. That hasn’t stopped fans from literary travels to experience this fantasy world. Harry Potter Travel Destinations.
- Lord of the Rings by J.R. Tolkien, was a long standing literary masterpiece. Starting in 2001 they became blockbuster movies and took a step towards reality. The filming locations have put New Zealand on the map as a literary travels destination.
- Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin is an interesting inversion of a screenplay made into a book series made back into a screenplay. This megalith is filmed in Ireland, Spain, Croatia and Iceland. The latter two have become top bucket list destinations since 2011 when the show started. Travel Channel shares 12 G.O.T. sites.
- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is a slightly tamer book conversion than the previous G.O.T. Outlander is the fantasy time-travel romance of Jamie the Scot (1745) and Claire the Sassenach (Englishwoman of 1945). Decades before the series went to the screen, Outlander’s fandom were flocking to Scotland for a glimpse of a Scot such as Jamie Fraser. I openly confess my adoration of Jamie….and all things Scottish.
- Under the Tuscan Sun, the 1996 memoir by Frances Mayes was made into a rom-com in 2003. This book certainly sparked the cavalcade of culinary and literary travels to Tuscany Italy.
Animation Gets into the Act
- Frozen takes us into the Disney realm and slightly out of the book world. The story’s origin is from Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen. As with most of the fairytales and folktales that Disney pretties-up this one was originally a dark and brutal telling. In any event, the movie adaptation gave Norway a bright and shining image. When we visited family in Norway in 2014 they had been inundated with Frozen tourists. No one was complaining.
Let’s take a slightly different direction for literary travels. For the avid literature buff, book festivals are a great reason to travel. Book festivals offer an opportunity to meet established and up-and-coming authors. There are vendors selling collectibles and overstocks. Author/speakers/panels share tips on writing, editing and publishing.
Printer’s Row Lit Fest in Chicago, “the Midwest’s largest celebration of the written word,”showcases more than 200 authors and is free to the public. The 30-year-old celebration draws crowds of over 150,000 every year and maintains a strong commitment to promoting literacy.
Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books in Waukesha, WI pulls visitors from all over the Midwest.
This link is a directory of most of the state and regional book festivals in the U.S.
Famous Book Stores
Finally, book lovers love book stores. The more quirky the better. There are a few I have been thrilled to visit.
Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR is literally a “city” packed to the ceiling with books.
Montague Book Mill in Montague, MA
Prairie Light Bookstore in Iowa City, IA. I loved this bookstore a lifetime ago when I was a University student in town and it remains on of my favorites.
Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL Anderson’s has a beautiful selection of diverse books and has expanded into several other Chicago suburbs.
The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles, CA
Powell’s City of BooksThe Strand in New York, NY
Be sure to check out all the posts in The 12 Days of Travel Themes;
Part 1: Culinary Tourism
Part 2: Fairs and Festivals
Part 3: Historic Destinations
Part 4: Museums
Part 5: Boozy Trips
Part 6: Get Outdoors
Part 7: Agritourism
Part 8: Urban Adventures
Part 9: Scenic Road Trips
Part 10: Literary Travels
Part 11: The Arts
Part 12 : Oddities