Literary work inspired by U.K. locations
The United Kingdom is filled with postcard-picture worthy landscapes. From white, chalky cliffs in the south; green, undulating hills dotting the countryside to craggy peaks in the north, it’s no wonder the U.K. has inspired generations of literary heroes. Geoffrey Chaucer immortalized the medieval city of Canterbury, and J.K. Rowling drew many of her Harry Potter references from sights around Scotland. Here are seven locations around the U.K. which have inspired some of the world’s greatest authors.
Ashdown Forest, England
“Winnie-the-Pooh” by A.A. Milne
Published in 1926, Alan Alexander (A.A.) Milne told the story of a lovable bear and his group of friends — Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo and Tigger — who live in Hundred-Acre Wood. Full of adventures (and misadventures), “Winnie-the-Pooh” became a beloved classic around the world.
Located southeast of London and known for hunting deer, Milne lived at the edge of Ashdown Forest and would take walks with his son Christopher Robin (for whom the character is named) in the dense, green woods. He so loved the area he once wrote, “In that enchanted place on the top of the forest, a little boy and his bear will always be playing.” Visitors can stroll leisurely through the woodlands. Other hikes within Ashdown Forest lead past World War II-era runways and trenches, stone bridges and ancient Roman roads. www.ashdownforest.org
Birmingham and Cheddar Gorge Caverns, England
“The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien
Originally published over the course of a year, “The Lord of the Rings” was split into three stories — “The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Two Towers” and “The Return of the King.” This epic fantasy is set in Middle Earth and tells the story of the quest to destroy the “one ring to rule them all.”
Born in South Africa and relocated to Birmingham, England, John Ronald Revel (J.R.R.) Tolkien drew inspiration for his tales from sites around Birmingham and further southwest in the Cheddar Gorge Caverns. As a boy, Tolkien would spend afternoons near Sarehole Mill – also known as the Shire. Two towering landmarks around the village of Edgbaston, the Edgbaston Waterworks and Perrott’s Folly towers, became reimagined as the hulking towers of Orthanc and Barad-dûr in “The Two Towers.” On his honeymoon, Tolkien and his wife toured the Cheddar Gorge Caverns. Filled with crystalline stalactites and stalagmites, these caves became inspiration for the White Mountains behind Helm’s Deep. Visitors can hike through the caverns and along the cliff’s edge for a beautiful sunset. www.cheddargorge.co.uk
Haworth and the Yorkshire Moorlands, England
“Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë
The tragic tale of star-crossed lovers, death, betrayal and revenge was published in 1847 and was the only novel Emily Brontë wrote. Known for being progressive in tone, the sad love story of Heathcliff and Catherine is legendary. Set in the stunning, yet rather isolating area of the Yorkshire moorlands, “Wuthering Heights” is a literary classic.
The Brontë sisters (Charlotte, Emily and Anne) drew inspiration from the gently rolling hills around them. Brontë aficionados can tour the Brontë Parsonage Museum and see the beautiful panoramas. Visitors can also hike the Brontë trail from Haworth to the Brontë waterfall. The hike will take you past Top Withens, the ruined farmhouse said to be the inspiration for the Earnshaw estate in “Wuthering Heights.” www.bronte.org.uk
Near Sawrey, Lake District, England
“The Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter
As a teenager, Beatrix Potter and her family took a summer vacation to Lake Windermere in the picturesque Lake District. It was here where she fell in love with the serene surroundings. Set in the fertile gardens of her Hill Top Farm, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” tells the story of a mischievous little rabbit traipsing through Mr. McGregor’s garden. Spotted by Mr. McGregor after binging on vegetables, Peter makes a daring escape through the garden only to get lost. When he finally figures out his way home, he gets spotted again and races to his family just in time.
Published in 1902, this iconic tale was literally drawn from Potter’s life. Using her pet rabbit Peter Piper as a character, she looked into her back garden and knew it would be the perfect setting for the story. “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” began as an illustrated letter to a friend’s son, and quickly grew in popularity. Visitors can tour Hill Top Farm, which is exactly as she left it. Owned by the National Trust, you’ll be whisked into the beloved world she knew so well. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hill-top
Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland
“The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis
Initially released between 1950 and 1956, Clive Staples (C.S.) Lewis introduced the world to the magical realm of Narnia in a collection of seven stories. Set in 1940s England, Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan are sent to the English countryside to escape the horrors of war. There, they discover a portal into another world within a simple wardrobe.
Born in Belfast, Lewis spent many vacations and holidays in the Mourne Mountains. Isolated in the southern region of Northern Ireland, the forlorn, jagged peaks inspired Lewis’ Narnia. In the winter, with freshly fallen snow draping the mountains, Lewis often felt they were magical. Visitors to Kilbroney Park and Mourne Mountains can hike the Narnia trail, which leads through meadows, forests and beautiful hillsides. www.visitmournemountains.co.uk.
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