6th Dec 2011 5:07pm | By Editor
Our guide to the best places to celebrate London writers and literary history in the capital.
Explore the supernatural references Dickens made in his works at the British Library’s Folio Society Gallery. Delve into the writer’s personality and ideas, as well as theories and beliefs around in his day, through his musings on the subject of the paranormal. Fascinatingly spooky.
Nov 29–Mar 4
96 Euston Road, SW1 2DB
Tube: King’s Cross/ Euston
Dr Johnson was one of the Fleet Street greats and is best known for putting together the first comprehensive English Dictionary, which took him 10 years to complete. The walks venture out from Johnson’s house, through the alleys off Fleet Street – the historical home of London’s newspapers – and the City. This is a great insight into the critic, poet, essayist and biographer’s life. Booking not needed.
First Wed each month. 3pm
17 Gough Square, EC4A 3DE
Tube: Chancery Lane
Actor/ musician Dominic Gerrard will perform the festive classic A Christmas Carol in its entirety, through the use of puppets. Directed by Tim Caroll, the piece takes the audience through Scrooge’s life by way of three ghosts. An excerpt will be performed at the opening night of Dickens And London (see P8).
6 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BX
Tube: Leicester Square
According to the books written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and Dr John H Watson lived at this address. Decked out exactly as in Victorian times, it’s a step back into the much-loved 19th-century crime novels.
Open daily. 9.30am-6pm
221b Baker Street, NW1 6XE
Tube: Baker Street
Work your way through the Guardian’s ‘1000 novels everyone must read’ at the Tabard Pub, Chiswick.
Dec 13. 7.30pm
2 Bath Road, W4 1LW
Tube: Turnham Green
The fourth public literary festival held by the London School of Economics will focus on relating arts and social sciences, as well as communication through langage. Speakers at previous events have included Lionel Shriver (the author of We Need To Talk About Kevin), former poet laureate Andrew Motion and Blake Morrison (And When Did You Last See Your Father?). Time to remember the productive side of your uni years at this high-brow event, which is taking place through a series of ‘Space For Thought’ lectures, to be announced later in December.
Feb 29–Mar 3
Houghton Street, WC2A 2AE
Five speakers get 15 minutes each to share their adventures with no scripts. At the next event, photojournalist Giles Duley, who lost three limbs in an explosion while reporting in Afghanistan, speaks about becoming the story rather than documenting it.
Dec 10. 7pm
17-25 New Inn Yard, EC2A 3EA
Tube: Shoreditch High Street
Meet at the Charles Dickens Museum in Clerkenwell for an extra-Christmassy nighttime tour of London. You’ll go on a 90-minute guided journey through London via historical points, and hear a reading of A Christmas Carol. Groups will consist of 20 people.
Fridays from Dec 2-23. 4pm
48 Doughty Street, WC1N 2LX
Anyone keen to write their own literary gems should hit The Shooting Star pubfor a few drinks, some inspiration and some all-important motivation. You’ll meet other writers, and listen to veterans give talks and provide tips. You can also road-test your own writing by reading it to the rest of the group, which will give constructive feedback on your work. Chapters from a novel in progress, short stories, screenplays, poems and prose are all welcome.
Jan 10, Jan 16. 7pm
125 Middlesex Street, E1 7JF
Tube: Liverpool Street
Celebrate Christmas in literary style with a festive selection of poetry and prose, read by poetry ambassadors from Keats House – a museum dedicated to poetry – mostly, but not exclusively, by Keats. Tickets must be booked in advance – it’s time for Scrooges to thaw out their hearts and get in the Chrimbo spirit.
Dec 14. 6.30pm-7.30pm
Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS
Rock up at Foyles bookshop for a Dickens-focused book discussion. December’s book is A Christmas Carol and February’s is Bleak House. Share your expertise or gain a new understanding of the great man’s works.
Dec 5 & Feb 6. 6.30pm-7.30pm
113-119 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0EB
Tube: Charing Cross
Meet on the corner outside the north exit of the Tube and evoke gaslit streets, Victorian society and drama in Oscar Wilde’s London – finding out the good, the bad and the scandal.
Each Sat. 11am
Tube: Green Park
Get shown the big literary sights of London with tour guide Diane, who’ll take you on a customised walk. Or book readymade tours like Brothels, Bishops and The Bard, which explores historic Southwark and Bankside’s connections to Shakespeare, other literature, religion and prostitution. Another well-travelled route is Bohemians and Bluestockings: Literary London, which delves into the famously debauched Bloomsbury Set. You’ll see where renowned writers like Virginia Woolf, T S Eliot, W B Yeats and Dickens lived, worked and loved. And if you’d rather just focus solely on Woolf’s patch of London, there’s a tour dedicated to her as well.
Half-day and evening walking tours bookable through the week
In 1946, George Orwell wrote an article about his ideal watering hole, a fictional pub called the Moon Under Water. It may never have existed, but Wetherspoon named 14 of its establishments after it when a journalist drew similarities between their bars and Orwell’s vision of pub perfection. Spit and sawdust, cheap as chips.
Mon-Thu 9am-11.30pm, Fri-Sat 9am-12am, Sun 9am-11pm
28 Leicester Square, WC2H 7LE
Tube: Leicester Square
Pay your respects to some big names in poetry and literature at their final resting places. Geoffrey Chaucer (the first to be buried there), Dickens, Thomas Mardy, Rudyard Kipling, John Dryden and many other greats are buried in Westminster Abbey’s South Transept, alongside memorials of writers like Jane Austen and John Milton.
Mon, Tue, Thu & Fri 9.30am-4.30pm, Wed 9.30am-7pm, Sat 9.30am-2.30pm
20 Deans Yard, SW1P 3PA