Literary Europe

Destinations

Sherlock Holmes Museum, 221b Baker Street, London
- England
Jo Cahill

Sherlock Holmes Museum, London, UK

No process of deduction would ever lead someone to find 221B Baker Street between 237 and 241 Baker Street, but nevertheless, if you find yourself in Marylebone looking for the Sherlock Holmes museum, that’s where you should head. At the time that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was writing and publishing his Sherlock Holmes detective stories (1887-1927), there was no such address as 221B Baker Street, so not only are the detective and his medically minded companion, Dr Watson, entirely fictional, but so is their address.

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Elephant House Cafe, Edinburgh
- Scotland
Jo Cahill

Elephant House Cafe, Edinburgh, Scotland

Beyond the walls of Greyfriars Kirkyard, in the shade of Edinburgh Castle, sits an inconspicuous (but for an occasional queue outside) café bearing a sign advertising it as the ‘birthplace of Harry Potter’. Although not technically true, as the first chapters were actually drafted in Portugal, it is no work of fiction to say that The Elephant Café played a key role in the development of the first books.

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Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh, Scotland
- Scotland
Jo Cahill

Greyfriars Cemetery, Edinburgh, Scotland

Famed as a spot where J.K. Rowling would take a walk to get inspiration (and fresh air) while writing the early Harry Potter books, Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh has the distinction of providing names to some of the best-loved (or hated) characters in children’s literature. It is also regarded as one of the most haunted locations in Europe, so even if you’re not a Harry fan, it could be worth a visit.

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Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Stratford-upon-Avon
- England
Jo Cahill

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK

If you imagine an English farmhouse, there’s a good chance that the picture in your head looks a lot like Anne Hathaway’s cottage. With sprawling gardens and rambling woods, white walls contrasting with dark exposed wood framing, and a beautifully thatched roof, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife-to-be has it all.

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Mikael Blomkvist's apartment, Bellmansgatan 1, Stockholm
Europe
Jo Cahill

Mikael Blomkvist’s apartment, Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm’s Sodermalm district, one of the most densely populated residential areas in Scandinavia, is a far cry from the remote town of Umea where Millennium trilogy author, Stieg Larsson, spent his childhood. It was also, however, the place that he chose to live most of his adult life, and the home of two of his most famous characters: Mikael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander.

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Grave of Edith Mary and John Ronald Reul Tolkien, Wolvercote Cemetery, Oxford
- England
Jo Cahill

J.R.R. Tolkien’s grave, Wolvercote Cemetery, Oxford, UK

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and creator of a vast and complex body of work relating to the fictional world of Middle Earth, was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa in 1892. When he was four, his father died, and he, along with his mother and younger brother, emigrated to England where he went on to become not just a best-selling author, but also a Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford University.

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Book Reviews

Articles

James Joyce statue, Dublin
Jo Cahill

James Joyce statue, Dublin, Ireland

Widely acclaimed as Ireland’s most famous author, James Joyce is immortalised in brass, in a life-sized statue on North Earl Street, adjacent to the O’Connell Street GPO. Although he spent much of his life abroad, Joyce wrote prolifically about his home country, and particularly the city of his birth. Both his short story collection, Dubliners, and his seminal work, Ulysses, are set in Dublin, making its heart an ideal setting for him to be honoured.

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Dublin Writers Museum, Dublin, Ireland
Jo Cahill

Dublin Writers Museum, Dublin, Ireland

Few countries are quite as well known for their literary tradition as Ireland, with internationally renowned poets, playwrights, novelists, essayists and writers of all persuasions calling the country home. Indeed, no less than four Nobel Prize winners hail from the Emerald Isle and all have connections to the capital, Dublin. As such, the Dublin Literary Museum has a range of illustrious characters to feature in their displays, and they use that to their advantage.

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Strahov Monastery Library, Prague
Jo Cahill

Strahov Monastery Library, Prague, Czech Republic

Widely considered to be among the most beautiful libraries in the world, the Strahov Monastery in Prague actually boasts two exquisite rooms full of books. Originally built in 1140, the monastery became home to the Premonstratensians (an order of monks related to the Jesuits) in 1143 and from there the library and nearby basilica began to develop. Destroyed by fire, sacked by attacking Hussites and decayed by the ravages of time, the Strahov Monastery has been rebuilt and revitalised many times over, each time with architectural and artistic advances to enhance its beauty.

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