Whether they offer a place of quiet refuge, a pleasant diversion, or pure escapism, the written word means something to everyone. World Book Day arrives on 7th March and with the occasion imminent, there’s no better time to indulge in a spot of literary tourism. After all, this is the perfect moment to seek out the places described in the books you love, the spaces most intimately connected with your favourite author or — via the means of travel and tourism — to experience an entirely new take on a book or writer you may already know. And so — with the flick of a page and a shimmer of imagination — here are some itinerary suggestions to make your World Book Day come to life.

You Can’t Beat a Classic

When it comes to books, there’s something for everyone, but you just can’t beat a classic. In the Anglosphere, William Shakespeare is the undisputed king of this particular genre and while many places in England can claim some kind of link with The Bard, the county of Warwickshire undoubtedly boasts the closest connection. After all, Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and a short stroll through this market town offers a fascinating glimpse into the early years of his life and the era in which he lived.

Fast-forwarding from the Elizabethan Age, Bath is the place to go for those who want to walk in the footsteps of Jane Austen, one of the most famous authors of the Regency Era. Though born in Hampshire, Austen lived in this genteel spa town — which serves as the setting for both “Northanger Abbey” and “Persuasion” — for five years. For a more immersive experience, you can head to the Jane Austen Centre or — even better — grab your bonnet and take part in Bath’s annual Jane Austen Festival. But love, of course, isn’t bound by geography and so — if you fell for Austen’s writing via the glow of the 1995 BBC adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” starring Colin Firth, you can also head to Cheshire’s Lyme Park to see exactly where that famous lake scene (you know the one) was filmed.

If Regency literature isn’t your thing, a visit to the county of Dorset takes us forward in time to the Victorian Era and — most specifically — to the home of Thomas Hardy, author of “Tess of the d’Urbervilles,” “The Mayor of Casterbridge,” and “Far from the Madding Crowd.” It was in this very dwelling — located on the outskirts of Dorchester at Higher Bockhampton — that Hardy wrote this latter novel. But if you’re something of a Hardy superfan, you can also follow the Hardy Trail, which winds its way through the rural Dorset that served as the backdrop to so many of his works.

In Norway, the late 19th Century saw playwright Henrik Ibsen — whose famous works include “A Doll’s House”  and “Hedda Gabler” — upend what were then the conventional rules of drama, eschewing romantic fiction for a glimpse into the unspoken social rules that defined the lives of middle-class Norwegians at the time. A walk through Oslo offers visitors the chance to meet Ibsen himself on a tour of the city or the opportunity to take in the many other places in the Norwegian capital so closely associated with him. 

Darker Reads for Something Sinister

If your literary tastes are a bit more sinister, the Yorkshire town of Whitby offers a Dracula Trail. Indeed, this coastal location is said to have served as the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” and this walking route takes in many of the sites described in this Gothic novel, including those infamous 199 steps. If you prefer demonic hounds to vampires, a trip to Devon — a county in the southwest of England — offers you the chance to stroll among the Dartmoor landscape that served as the backdrop for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” But as many avid readers already know, this county has deep links to many different works and authors, including Agatha Christie. With so many places to see in such a small area, Visit Devon has come up with this handy guide to help bookworms make the most of their visit. 

Of Fairy Tales and Fantasy

For younger travellers, no trip to the Lake District is complete without a visit to Hill Top, the Cumbrian cottage of Beatrix Potter, located in the village of Near-Sawrey. At the nearby Armitt Museum, visitors can admire the botanical sketches and drawings that are as much a part of her legacy as the likes of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck. Even better, you can head to the Lingholme Estate to see the inspiration behind Mr McGregor’s garden or walk through the grounds of Wray Castle, where Potter’s love for the Lake District first began. 

From Potter’s gentle fairy tales to pure fantasy, it’s time to head to Belfast for the Worlds within Wardrobes, A Literary Odyssey walking tour. While he is recognised as the author of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” C.S. Lewis is also one of the city’s most famous literary sons. On this walking tour, visitors get to explore the parts of East Belfast most closely associated with Lewis and his family. For a grown-ups-only fantasy experience, Tourism Northern Ireland (TNI), has rounded up the places and spaces around the country that helped bring George R. R. Martin’s  “A Game of Thrones” novel to life. 

Literary Experiences and Libraries

If you’re already in Northern Ireland, it’s worth exploring the area’s many and deep connections to the written word. While it’s well-known as the home of C.S. Lewis and now deeply associated with “The Game of Thrones” franchise, Northern Ireland — and specifically the Armagh Robinson Library — boasts links with poets Seamus Heaney and Samuel Beckett as well as with author Jonathan Swift.  But if you just love the written word in any and all of its forms, then check out The Verbal Arts Centre in Derry-Londonderry or Belfast's Writer’s Square. 

Meanwhile, in the Irish county of Kerry, the Kerry’s Writers’ Museum explores the lives, times, and the inspiration behind the works of some of the region’s finest authors, including John B, Keane and Brendan Kennelly. But if all you want is to meander through row upon row of books and tomes, Chetham’s Library, Manchester — remarkable for being the oldest public library in the English-speaking world — and Liverpool Central Library — one of the largest public libraries in the UK — are perfect places to while away the day. 

Whatever you like, whatever you seek — be it refuge, diversion, or a total escape — books offer a space and a place for everyone, everywhere. With these itinerary suggestions, you can bring your imagination to life anytime you like, this World Book Day and beyond.

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