Which county is the setting for Poldark? We all now know it’s Cornwall, thanks to last year’s lavish BBC One drama and a certain torso belonging to Aidan Turner. But how many of us know which city is home to Miss Brodie from Muriel Sparks’ The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie?
You can’t beat taking a good book on holiday, but if you’re really into reading, why not take a holiday inspired by a good book?
To give us some literary wanderlust, Travelzoo has cherry-picked 11 powerful works from the canon of British literature – and devised a quiz to help us discover where in the UK inspired their settings.
Once the quiz is completed, the full map is unlocked and turns into a useful things-to-do resource, perfect for anyone planning a literary break in the UK.
Here are four destinations to get you started:
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Where to go: Edinburgh
Synopsis: In 1930s Edinburgh, six impressionable schoolgirls find themselves tutored by an energetic new teacher with an unconventional approach.
What to see:
The Canongate, the Grassmarket, the Lawnmarket - Miss Brodie and her pupils take a walk through the vibrant thoroughfares of Edinburgh’s ancient heart, arriving at Chambers Street, where you can check out the collections of the Museum of Scotland. Don’t forget the historic splendour of the Royal Mile and the palace at Holyrood, a visit to which is recalled by schoolgirl Sandy early in the novel. For literary-themed refreshment, book a sumptuous afternoon tea at one of the city’s finest Georgian buildings - the Signet Library in Parliament Square. The National Library of Scotland, just next door, recently launched a campaign to open Muriel Spark’s personal archive to the public.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Where to go: The Lake District
Synopsis: Beatrix Potter was born 150 years ago this July. Her most famous creation is the mischievous Peter Rabbit, who gets chased from Mr McGregor’s garden and loses his signature blue coat.
What to see:
Hill Top: Beatrix Potter purchased this idyllic 17th century farmhouse with the proceeds from the publication of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. High in the hills to the west of Lake Windermere, the garden and the landscape beyond is said to have inspired many of her following works.
Derwentwater: Beatrix Potter spent many childhood summer holidays on the shores of this lake, staying at the houses of Fawe Park and Lingholm - the vegetable garden of the latter inspired Mr McGregor’s own plot in Peter Rabbit. While the houses are not presently open to the public, there are plenty of Potter connections to explore - follow in her footsteps and climb the beautiful fell of Catbells on the lake’s western shore, or visit the nearby Newlands Valley, the setting of The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Where to go: Whitby, Yorkshire coast
Synopsis: The story of Count Dracula’s move from Transylvania to England, so he can find new blood, sees him shipwrecked off the Yorkshire coast, at Whitby.
What to see:
Whitby Abbey: Destroyed by Henry VIII in the dissolution of the monasteries, Whitby Abbey remains one of the UK’s most dramatic ruins and an enduring symbol of all things Gothic. Climb the 199 steps from the town below to enjoy this remarkable location. The Abbey also has a café, with a large garden offering unmatched panoramic views across the bay, the town, and towards the moors beyond.
Robin Hood’s Bay: To discover somewhere that truly retains a sense of remote tranquillity and wonder, pay a visit to this charming village just south of Whitby. With its wide, sweeping beach, characterful houses and a smattering of cosy pubs, it's the ideal place for an atmospheric winter walk. If you’re lucky enough to be there on a warm day, check out the sea-view terrace at the Swell Café Bar.
Poldark by Winston Graham
Where to go: Cornwall
Synopsis: There are 12 novels in the Poldark saga, which centre on Ross Poldark, who returns from war to find his fiancée is set to marry his cousin – and reopens the family’s tin mine.
What to see:
Charlestown: This quaint fishing port, just a short drive from the town of St Austell on Cornwall’s south coast, has appeared in many period dramas due to its well-preserved architecture and rustic charm. Look out for the harbour in the next season of the BBC’s Poldark
St Agnes and Chapel Porth: For wild coastal views, few places compare. This protected stretch of Cornwall’s northern shore was once at the heart of the county's tin mining industry, but has since reclaimed its natural beauty. If the sun is out, be sure to visit the beach café at Chapel Porth cove and try the ‘hedgehog’ ice cream! For something more substantial, try The Taphouse in St Agnes for great food and live music.
The Poldark Mine: Used for some of the underground filming in the recent TV adaptation, this popular tourist attraction is the only tin mine in Cornwall that’s open to the public. This mine dates from the 18th century, but there has been mining in this area of Cornwall since the Bronze Age - so it’s the perfect place to discover that rich industrial past.
Have you been on a literary pilgrimage? Is there somewhere you’d like to visit? Let us know in the Comments section below.