Literary Journeys

A week without posts - woops. I've been away visiting family in England, and visiting England with family-in-law. It's always fun being a tourist in your own country and this trip seems to have been particularly good fodder for this blog. For why? For because of all the places I've been with literary links! 221b Baker Street, for example, or Dr Johnson's house, or The Eagle and Child pub, Oxford (of Inklings fame), or Christ Church College, also Oxford, with Alice in Wonderland characters in the stained glass (and also where various Harry Potter scenes were filmed. That's literary too, I guess...) Quite a lot, actually. Bath, where Jane Austen spent a lot of her time, was stunning.

It's all got me thinking (and do forgive this rambling post. I woke up in London this morning and I'm in New Jersey now. Jet lag may apply...) about what might be deemed literary tourism. That is, the trade that springs up around the physical world of a writer. Not just the house they lived in in the real world (think Beatrix Potter Museum or the Bronte Parsonage) - and not even the culture that can come from visiting places they made their own (here would be the Tolkien / Lewis pub et al) - but the fact that, as with Baker Street, and a host of other locations, they're famous for things that didn't really happen. In fact 221b wasn't even built yet when Sherlock Holmes was written. It's there now though. and has become a real tourist hot spot. It's fantastic, by the way, and I recommend a visit.

This is writing at its best. Making worlds that are so real they become real. Too much for the page but not enough for the imagination, people make them happen out here in the real hustle and bustle of life. There's a Harry Potter world theme park now, isn't there, in America? But you can bet if Rowling had been more specific on Hogwarts' location - or given the Durselys a real address - then that's where people would go. And that's brilliant. Stories should be enough to make us want to reach out and really be there - to see the view with our own eyes, to know what it smells like, so we can imagine a certain scene, visualise a certain character reacting...

It's a good aim, isn't it? I don't write about places so much, but if I ever do, and someone takes the time and effort to actually go there because of words I wrote, I can't imagine a bigger compliment.

And now I'm tired. Goodbye!

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