Literary Sights In London
She’s one of the world’s best-selling novelists of all time, with 66 books that have been translated into more than 40 languages, read by two billion people around the world. But the British crime writer also holds the title for the world’s longest-running play, The Mousetrap, which premiered in London’s West End in 1952 and has been performed more than 25,000 times since. Quite simply, it is a piece of theatrical history and a must-see for anyone who loves a good ‘whodunnit’ murder mystery. The play, which is on at St Martin’s Theatre, is famous for its ending, but be sure to keep it under your hat as the audience is traditionally asked not to reveal anything after leaving the theatre.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death so expect even more Shakespeare events and performances than usual. Highlights include Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare at the Barbican (1-6 Mar) – in which every one of his 36 plays are condensed and presented on a table using a cast of everyday objects; Ophelia Dances at the Royal Festival Hall (5 Mar) – live chamber music inspired by Shakespearean works; and The Tempest (to 22 Apr), Cymbeline (from 4 Mar) and The Winter’s Tale (to 22 Apr), which are all performed in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, a candlelit indoor theatre on the same site as the legendary Globe theatre.
Keats House is the former home of John Keats, the 19th-century British Romantic poet. Situated in picturesque Hampstead, the traditional Regency villa is every bit as beautiful as his poetry, with exhibits of his original manuscripts and artefacts that bring his work to life. It was here that Keats wrote Ode to a Nightingale and fell in love with Fanny Brawne (literally, the girl next door). In the house you can see the engagement ring he gave to Fanny as well as other personal belongings. Like other Romantic poets, he used natural imagery to convey deep emotions, and even to this day To Autumn is considered to be one of the finest poems written in the English language.
With 450 million copies sold worldwide, the Harry Potter book series by JK Rowling is a 21st-century literary phenomenon, yet nobody could have predicted the success of its film franchise, which has grossed more than £4 billion so far. Take a trip out of town to experience the magic of Hogwarts in Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, a unique opportunity for fans to explore the sets, props and costumes used in the films. If you’re in a rush, then just pop into King’s Cross station in central London where you’ll find Platform 9¾ – look out for the luggage trolley embedded in the wall and have your camera at the ready for a Muggle to capture the moment before you disappear!