UK Literary Locations
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of children’s author Roald Dahl, best known for The BFG and Matilda. The Shard is hosting a Dahl-themed afternoon tea (to 30 Sep), while the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff hosts The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl, an interactive exhibition for children (to 14 Jan 2017). Visit the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire – Dahl lived here for 36 years. Activities include making a dream catcher (1 Sep), story-telling (6, 13, 20 & 27 Sep) and wildlife workshops (25 Sep). The centre’s Museum of the Unexpected (17 Sep) lets you go on a scent trail and watch magic.
How to get there: London Marylebone to Great Missenden (takes 45 mins; from £16 return). roalddahl.com
It’s 200 years since the author of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë was born. To celebrate, Brontë Parsonage Museum in the author’s childhood village of Haworth, Yorkshire, is hosting Charlotte: Great & Small (to 1 Jan 2017). See her clothes, miniature books and paintings. You can hear a talk on the role of women (6 Sep), or find out about the author’s travels (30 Sep). On a walking tour of Haworth (11 Sep), you’ll see the street sign, Heathcliff Mews, that inspired the hero’s name in Wuthering Heights.
How to get there: London King’s Cross to Keighley (takes 2 hours 45 mins; from £24.50 return). Then take a Keighley & Worth Valley Railway steam train to Haworth. bronte.org.uk
To mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare, visit What’s in a Name? (to 5 Sep) at the Museum of London, which showcases his possessions. You could also drop by the British Library’s Shakespeare in Ten Acts (to 6 Sep) to see how Shakespeare performances have changed over the years. Serious fans must visit Stratford-upon-Avon – tour Shakespeare’s Birthplace, where the Bard spent his childhood. Make sure you see a show at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre: pick from Cymbeline and King Lear.
How to get there: London Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon (takes 2 hours; from £29 return). rsc.org.uk
This year, the UK celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter – the brains behind The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Start your pilgrimage at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which has the world’s largest collection of Potter’s drawings, manuscripts, letters and photographs. You can also take an after-hours guided tour of her former home, Hill Top (1 Sep), a pretty farmhouse in the village of Near Sawrey in the Lake District in Cumbria, or join a gardener on a tour of the National Trust property’s gardens (18 Sep). While you’re in the area, pop to Hawkshead, which is home to the Beatrix Potter Gallery, a 17th-century house that displays the author’s original illustrations.
How to get there: London Euston to Windermere (takes 3 hours 15 mins; from £75 return). Then take Stagecoach bus 505 bound for Coniston. nationaltrust.org.uk
The UK is celebrating Alan Alexander Milne, the man behind Winnie-the-Pooh, as 2016 sees the 90th anniversary of the story’s first volume. Fans should start by viewing photographs in the National Portrait Gallery of the author and his son Christopher clutching a toy bear – the original Winnie-the-Pooh. Milne’s stories are near the farm where he lived in Ashdown Forest, a 6,500-acre heathland in East Sussex – so where better to take part in a run dressed as the bear and his pals, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore and Kanga? Sign up now for a Winnie the Pooh Wander (15 Oct) and don’t forget to visit nearby Pooh Sticks Bridge, immortalised in Milne’s stories.
How to get there: London Bridge to Crowborough (takes 1 hour; from £26.40 return). Then take a taxi to Kidd’s Hill. saxon-shore.com
If you’ve already visited Westminster Abbey, you might have spotted a plaque dedicated to Dylan Thomas in Poets’ Corner. Known for his inventive use of words, Thomas is considered to be one of the greatest Welsh poets of the 1900s – which is why Swansea has a statue of him. Fans should visit the permanent exhibition, Love the Words, at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea – opt for a guided tour. Or go on one of the centre’s walking trails, which takes you to the farm Thomas grew up on, and a boathouse in Laugharne, where he wrote part of Under Milk Wood. The centre also hosts the annual Dylan Thomas Festival (27 Oct-9 Nov), where you can attend writing workshops, book signings and talks.
How to get there: London Paddington to Swansea (takes 3 hours; from £40 return). dylanthomas.com