I’m an anglophile because I am a bibliophile. Or perhaps I’m a bibliophile because I am an anglophile. The two loves are so intertwined that distinguishing which came first is impossible.
I can name all the English monarchs from Henry II to Elizabeth II because of the historical novels I’ve read and loved. And I’ve explored London to see the places that have loomed large and long in my imagination in real life. In 1999, I got to see the newly opened Shakespeare’s Globe and the new British Library. The latter astonished me with the technology that made medieval books come alive.
I also vividly remember my first visit to the reading room of the British Museum and treasure a hand-written note my father gave me that quoted Charles Lamb from a display he saw there on one of his trips.
London’s literary heritage is rich and overflowing. I could have featured destinations featured in my favorite romance novels or mystery thrillers. Or dive into locations from 19th-century novels. But here I offer a full day of the literary highlights of London.
1 || BREAKFAST AT THE LANGHAM
9:00 o’clock in the morning
Located in the West End, The Langham is one of the city’s most prestigious hotels. Completed in 1865. Clientele included Twain, Wilde, Churchill, Noël Coward among others. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle set some of Sherlock’s adventure’s here. Opposite the BBC you’ll likely run into journalistic glitterati or spot other celebs.
2 || VISIT THE BRITISH MUSEUM
10:00 o’clock in the morning
The first home of the British Library, where you can still visit the renowned round Reading Room. Many literary figures studied and wrote here from Marx to Orwell, from Wolfe to Wilde, from Conan Doyle to Bernard Shaw. Check out the Rosetta Stone while you’re there.
3 || PERUSE THE BRITISH LIBRARY
11:00 o’clock in the morning
Originally part of the British Museum, the infamous library portion of the museum got its own spectacular building in 1997. Now one of the greatest libraries in the world, the British Library exhibits literary treasures and hosts events all year round.
4 || SHOP AT CHARRING CROSS
84, Charing Cross Road may be a delightful novel (and film) for book lovers but this juncture in London is an epicenter for book lovers IRL. Explore Quinto Bookshop, Any Amount of Books, The House of Spells, and more. Don’t miss the 5 stories at Foyles where you can also grab some delicious lunch at their cafe.
5 || TOUR CHARLES DICKENS HOUSE
1:30 o’clock in the afternoon
Step back into 1837 at the Dickens Museum, where Dickens lived. Set up as he then lived there, you’ll be in the place where he wrote several of the early novels that put him on the literary map.
6 || SNOOP AROUND 221B BAKER STREET
2:30 o’clock in the afternoon
Though the address is fictional, there is a plague and a Sherlock Holmes Museum right down the street in an 1815 townhouse very similar to Sherlock’s. Full of Holmes’ memorabilia, exhibits, and displays, the highlight is the replica of Sherlock’s study.
7 || BRIDGERTON AT THE LANESBOROUGH
4:00 o’clock in the afternoon
The Lanesborough with Netflix is launching London’s first Bridgerton-themed tea. Built for the 2nd Viscount Lanesborough, this landmark Hyde Park Corner hotel is the perfect setting to drink in Regency-style. Whether you favor Julia Quinn or Jane Austen, this is the place to taste romance.
8 || DINE AT GEORGE INN
6:00 o’clock in the evening
This historic coaching inn boasts a story behind every nook and cranny. With roots back to the 1500s, and rebuilt in the 1670s after the Great Fire, this pub is mentioned in Charles Dickens’ novel ‘Little Dorrit’.
9 || THEATER AT SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE
8:00 o’clock in the evening
This modern reconstruction of the Globe Theater opened in 1997. Shakespeare’s acting company built the original in 1599 but fires in the 1600s destroyed the original. This summer you can see Much Ado About Nothing or Julius Caesar.