Treading the boards
The West End boasts many literary adaptations, including Cats – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s take on TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats – the musical of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables and ghost story The Woman in Black. There’s also Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, two musicals based on books by Roald Dahl – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda – and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (pictured), based on Mark Haddon’s mystery novel.
Meanwhile, on the banks of the River Thames lies an imposing edifice erected in honour of the UK’s greatest literary figure: William Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was inaugurated in 1997 and stages productions in surroundings the playwright would have known in his time.
The After Life
Charles Dickens and Samuel Johnson are just some of those afforded the tribute of being buried in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner. Their neighbours include Geoffrey Chaucer and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, while there are memorials to Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Dylan Thomas, John Keats and John Betjeman (whose statue adorns the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras).
Meanwhile, Highgate Cemetery is the final resting place of Karl Marx, Anthony Shaffer, George Eliot and Douglas Adams.
Charles Dickens wrote many of his novels, including Oliver Twist, at 48 Doughty Street in Holborn. Now home to the Charles Dickens Museum, the 19th-century building is a treasure trove of memorabilia related to the author. Another impressive collection can be found at Keats House in Hampstead, where John Keats wrote such poems as Ode to a Nightingale.
Essayist Samuel Johnson is commemorated in the splendid 18th-century Dr Johnson’s House near Fleet Street, while you can see a tribute to Winnie the Pooh author AA Milne in Chelsea’s Mallord Street.
The spirits of writers hang over many areas of the capital. The Bloomsbury Group was named after the area in which they lived or worked – Virginia Woolf and her painter sister Vanessa Bell lived at 46 Gordon Square, close to one of the group’s founders, Lytton Strachey, at No 51.
Nearby Fitzrovia features the haunts of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, including The Wheatsheaf and The Fitzroy Tavern, which was also a favourite of George Orwell. The Newman Arms, meanwhile, is said to be the model for pubs in Orwell’s 1984 and Keep the Aspidistra Flying.
Sherlock Holmes famously lived at 221b Baker Street, home to the Sherlock Holmes Museum since 1990. Although this Georgian townhouse is actually between 237 and 241 Baker Street, fans will enjoy its period rooms, wax figures and Holmes memorabilia. And don’t miss the detective’s statue outside Baker Street Underground station.
A statue of children’s favourite Peter Pan was commissioned by his creator JM Barrie to stand in Kensington Gardens, and there’s a statue of Paddington Bear, at the latter’s namesake station.
Harry Potter is celebrated in the form of a luggage trolley disappearing into a wall at King’s Cross station’s platform 9 ¾. There’s a shop selling Harry Potter memorabilia nearby, too.