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Vintage Books

Literary tour of London

Few cities can lay claim to as many notable writers as London. Almost every English scribe of great renown has passed through the capital at one point or another, whether struggling to make ends meet, hoping for their big break or sharing ideas with groups of friends who went on to shape new cultural movements.

In many cases you can visit their homes and preferred watering holes, the libraries and bookshops that provided inspiration, or walk down streets in the footsteps of some of English literature's most famous characters. An expert on literary London will bring these locations to life on a fascinating private half-day walking tour.

After meeting your guide at the British Museum, embark on a walking tour through leafy and affluent Bloomsbury, one of the most literature-rich areas of London. Wander through tranquil green squares and visit London’s smallest street as you explore locations associated with the Bloomsbury Set, an influential group of writers, artists and intellectuals that included Virginia Woolf and E M Forster, among others.

The group established itself in this part of London in the first half of the 20th century, living, working and studying together, sharing ideas and promoting each other’s work. Follow in their wake, exploring the area with your guide, visiting houses where members lived on Bloomsbury Square, Gordon Square and Fitzroy Square, and the small bookshops, galleries and literary pubs of this quiet area that was once home to so many influential thinkers.

As you walk your guide explains about the lives and ideas of the group's most significant members, how they reacted to Victorian attitudes, how their progressive thinking was so controversial at the time and how their complicated love lives caused rifts among the group's members.

Your walking tour ends at the British Library, the second largest library in the world. Although many of the historical tomes, manuscripts and memorabilia owned by the library are not on public display, there is plenty to keep you engaged.

Along with fascinating temporary exhibitions and regular special events, one of the most interesting areas is the Sir John Ritblat Treasures room, a permanent exhibition area displaying over 200 items, including an original copy of the Magna Carta, the Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare’s First Folio and hand written lyrics by John Lennon from the Beatles on the back of his son’s birthday card.

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Audley Travel specialist Andea

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