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Image credit: Rod Edwards/VisitBritain

Book Tours

in England

Take the kids on these amazing book tours around England. Diana Plater visits the homes of England's greatest writers, including Beatrix Potter, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, JM Barrie and Lewis Carroll.

Beatrix Potter

The Lake District, England
Is that Jemima Puddle-Duck I see swimming on a tarn (or small lake) at Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm? And Peter Rabbit being chased out of the veggie garden by Mr McGregor?


Born in London on 28 July 1866, Potter’s spirit fills every nook and cranny of her home and farm at Near Sawrey as I recognise illustrations from her books, which also include ‘Samuel Whiskers’ and ‘Tom Kitten’.


When she died in 1943, Potter left all her land to the National Trust, and now you can visit. It’s truly special exploring the fells on her land, often reached via kissing gates, where she collected fungi and botanical specimens and drew the inspiration for her tales.


The 150th anniversary celebrations will extend far and wide in 2016, with a Children’s Literary Festival at Wray Castle taking place on 5-6 March, while a series of storytelling events, a birthday party and a countrywide exhibition of Potter’s artwork round out the affair.



potter


Charlotte Bronte

West Yorkshire, England
In 2016 it will be 200 years since Charlotte, author of ‘Jane Eyre’ and other novels, was born on 21 April 1816. Her famous sisters died in their 20s, but she lived until she was 38 before dying, it’s believed, of severe morning sickness in 1855.


From 1820 the Brontë home became Haworth Parsonage, now the Brontë Parsonage Museum, where I wander entranced from room to room, each filled with simple furniture, clothes and the miniature books they made as children.


I marvel at how they wrote some of the greatest English novels ever published, including ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Shirley’ and ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, at tiny writing desks in the front parlour.


Family events at the museum include drop-in art and craft activities, writing days, trails, dressing up and talks. In 2016 special exhibitions celebrating Charlotte’s anniversary will be held at the museum and at the National Portrait Gallery in London.


Charles Dickens

London, England
I’m exploring the back streets of Bloomsbury in London when I see a sign pointing to the Charles Dickens Museum and excitedly open the front door to 48 Doughty Street, referred to by the man himself as “My house in town”.


Two of the great 19th-century novelist and social campaigner’s daughters were born here; his sister-in-law, Mary, died here aged 17; and some of his best-loved novels were written here, including ‘Oliver Twist’.


Today, children can experience another era, trying on Victorian costumes and taking part in holiday events from storytelling and butter churning to craft activities. The museum also offers a walk through Dickensian London, where I recognise several scenes from his novels.


In fact I sense him everywhere in England - from the Thames, the scene of the exciting chase in ‘Great Expectations’, to St Saviour’s Dock, where Bill Skyes meets his demise in ‘Oliver Twist’.


dickensBronte

Image credit: Charles Dickens Museum

Image Credit: The Bronte Society