Literary Tourism: Part 2

This is part two of a post about the literary sights I visited while I was in Europe for the month of July. You can read Part 1 here. On Tuesday I’ll be posting mini-reviews of my vacation reads, after which your regularly scheduled book reviews will resume.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAShakespeare’s Birthplace

This cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon was purchased by Shakespeare’s father, who was a glovemaker by trade. Actors stationed in the gardens performed sonnets and soliloquies by request, from memory. Because the birthplace has been a tourist destination for over 200 years, many bookish visitors have gone before you. In the 1800s, it was customary for visitors to sign the window of the room where Shakespeare was born. (We just signed the guestbook). Photos are allowed in the house provided you don’t use flash. Advance tickets didn’t seem to be essential, but you can get your tickets cheaper by buying online.

Website: http://www.shakespeare.org.uk/home.html

IMG_2324The Book of Kells

This famous gospel is on display at Trinity College, Dublin. The exhibit itself was good, but the best part of this visit was the Old Library Long Room, which houses 200 000 of the library’s oldest books, and is an education centre for librarians training in book preservation and repair. The room is lined with marble bust of famous writers, including Milton and Shakespeare.  If you won’t be making it to Dublin any time soon, or aren’t satisfied with seeing the one page of the book on display that day, there is an app available on iTunes for $12.99. Advance tickets aren’t necessary. No photos are permitted in the exhibit, but non-flash photography is allowed in the Long Room.

Website: http://www.tcd.ie/Library/bookofkells/

GE DIGITAL CAMERAThe World of Beatrix Potter

This indoor exhibit in Bowness-on-Windermere is a walk-through attraction with beautiful life-size dioramas of scenes from the works of Beatrix Potter. There is also a small garden, and an exhibit at the end about the life of the author. Overall, this attraction, while beautiful, was geared more towards children than adult fans, however the gift shop here offered a much greater selection of Beatrix Potter merchandise than the shop at Hill Top Farm. Advance tickets are not necessary. Non-flash photography is permitted.

Website: http://www.peterrabbit.com/en


Located in Near Sawry on the west side of Lake Windermere, Hill Top Farm was the home of Beatrix Potter, a working farm purchased with proceeds from the sales of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. I would caution anyone coming from the east side of the lake and planning to follow the National Trust trail up to the farm that the signage is quite poor and difficult to follow. Save yourself a hassle and take the bus! Staff members from the National Trust are located around the house, and are extremely knowledgeable about Potter’s life, and the furnishings of the house. Make sure to look for the copies of Potter’s books scattered around the house; they are left open to pages that depict recognizable aspects of the house or furniture. This attraction is likely to appeal more to Potter’s adult fans than to children. Advance tickets are not available; tickets are purchased on a timed entry system on the day  of admission. No photography is allowed inside the house, but the garden is fair game. Access to the grounds is limited, as the property is still a working farm.

That’s it for my literary travels. See you back here on Tuesday, when it is back to the books themselves.

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