Book Lover’s Guide To London
The city of a million stories.
There is no shame in loving books more than anything else, and there is certainly no shame in preferring literary sites to the insta-worthy ones (but cool bookshops are super insta-worthy, okay). A city like London is overflowing with old bookshops, library bars, historic cites, and combinations of the formerly mentioned, like library bars where great authors once went (definitely counts as a historic site). Below are the places you CANNOT miss if you’re a bibliophile and find yourself in London.
An uncountable number of literary works have been set in and around London, and for good reason; it’s winding streets and seemingly permanent cloudy weather are made to inspire all kinds of stories, or an afternoon with a good book and a cup of tea. Lucky for book-lovers, small, independent book stores line streets and appear around every corner.
Quinto Francis Edwards
Henry Pordes’ Books
Any Amount of Books
Alice Through the Looking Glass
The Notting Hill Bookshop
Daunt Books and many many more.
Museums and Historic Sites
Charles Dickens Museum: Located in the former home of the famed author, it offers a glimpse into the daily life of his family and the man who told accounts of London in ways no one had before. It does have an entrance fee, but it is well worth it.
The British Library: This is the number ONE, the end-all-be-all of literary archives, open for all (read: free). Unassuming from the outside, inside is a book lover’s Wonka’S Chocolate Factory. The Treasures collection holds artifacts that could any book lover bounce with excitement. Favorites include Jane Austen’s writing desk and her handwritten copy of Persuasion’s manuscript, Charles Dickens’s manuscript of Nicholas Nickleby, and William Shakespeare’s sonnets.
Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey may seem a little morbid, but odds are, you will probably visit Westminster anyways. The final resting place of many famous British literary heroes (among them, Geoffrey Chaucer and Charles Dickens), it is worth the stop along the tour through the abbey.
Library Bars, a combo dreamed up only by the gods, is exactly what it sounds like. A bar, serving drinks and maybe food, that also functions as a book lover’s paradise. Usually lined with books and more books, and inhabited by fellow book lovers, they’re all over London. Check out one of these…The Society Club, located in Soho and a short walk from some of the formerly mentioned bookshops, head on over for a quick drink and get a headstart on your new purchase. Or…The Drawing Room, located behind a bookshelf at BFI Southbank, a seemingly normal movie theatre.
Where Literary Heroes Congregated
The George Inn, said to have been visited by William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens (though a couple years apart), is maintained by the U.K.’s National Trust. So though a legitimate and impressive site near Shakespeare’s Globe, it can also get a little bit touristy.
The likes of George Orwell, George Bernard Shaw, and Richard Attenborough frequented this still popular pub. The Fitzroy Tavern is less touristy than the George Inn, and it’s history a little more recent.
Bloomsbury Square Garden was popular among the, you guessed it, Bloomsbury Group (Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes and E.M. Forester all members) . The surrounding neighborhood also housed favorites such as T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Charles Dickens and more. Do some exploring, and see the sites that you can find.
Great places to read the books you bought
Soho Square Park, Russell Square Gardens, St. James Park (between sights for a quick break), or one of the many charming parks dotting London’s landscape.