London Literary Sites For Book Lovers

Paddington Bench

There are so many London literary sites that a book lover could spend a lifetime in London and never finish all the books related to the city or visit all the sites! And if you’re visiting, with even less time than a lifetime, it’s hard to know how to prioritize! Here are my top suggestions for bookish London locations not to be missed.

I’ve also supplied links so you can purchase the books and get reading (or listening!) to these great London classics!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a book through any of these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting the blog!

1. Paddington Bear Statue

Literary London Site: Paddington Bear Statue

Paddington Bear statue at Paddington Station

The statue of Paddington Bear, inspired by the Paddington Bear stories by Michael Bond, can be found on train platform one at Paddington Station. This is where the hapless bear was fictionally found and taken in by the Brown family. He was sitting on his suitcase with a tag around his neck reading, “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” If you fly into Heathrow Airport and take the Paddington Express into London, this should be your first literary destination.

–> Read more about Paddington in this post: Literary Destination: A Bear Called Paddington

Purchase The Paddington Treasury from IndieBound | Amazon | Audible

2. Peter Pan Statue

Literary London Site: Peter Pan

Statue in Kensington Garden of Peter Pan

Author J. M. Barrie had this statue, inspired by his character Peter Pan, placed in Kensington Garden in the middle of the night so that children would think it appeared as if by magic the next morning. Rather than the second star to the right and straight on ’till morning, take a stroll through the garden along the water to find this lost boy of Never Never Land.

–> Read more about Peter Pan in this post: London for Lost Boys & Other Fans of Peter Pan

Purchase Peter Pan from IndieBound | Amazon | Audible

3. Bloomsbury Neighborhood

Barrie Bloomsbury Plaque

The Bloomsbury Neighborhood is not only famous for its namesake, the headquarters of Bloomsbury Publishing, but historically was home to many great writers who have been memorialized with round blue plaques on the fronts of several of the buildings. Take yourself on a self-guided walking tour through the neighborhood and you’ll find the former home of Virginia Wolfe, the site of where author J. M. Barrie’s home once stood, and Charles Dickens’ London home, as well as several others.

A self-guided Writers Walk through Bloomsbury

4. Sherlock Holmes Museum

London Literary Site: Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker Street, London

Although the famous consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his assistant, Dr. John Watson, are characters created by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and only fictionally lived at 221B Baker Street in London, that is exactly where you’ll find the Sherlock Holmes house museum today. 221B Baker Street is a three story historic boarding house turned museum with rooms decorated to look like as though the occupants of Doyle’s stories, Sherlock, Watson and their housekeeper Ms. Hudson have just stepped out. You’ll be able to take a seat in Sherlock’s study and try on his famous hat, but be wary of the third floor. Upstairs you’ll find wax figurines of some of the classic villains from the Sherlock mysteries.

–> Read more in this post: London Literary Destination for the Sherlock Holmes Fan

Purchase The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes from IndieBound | Amazon | Audible

For open hours and more information, visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum website

5. Shakespeare’s Globe Theater

London Literary Site: Globe Theater

A replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater

London’s Globe Theater is actually a replica of Shakespeare’s original theater, which succumbed to fire, but it has been rebuilt with similar techniques to the original and his plays are still performed daily. You can visit the theater as an audience member or just for a guided tour between productions.

–> Read more in this post: Literary Destination: Shakespeare’s Globe Theater

Purchase The Complete Works of William Shakespeare from IndieBound | Amazon

For theater tickets or guided tour times, visit the Globe Theater website

6. Kenwood Estate

London Literary Site: Kenwood Estate

Kenwood Estate, at Hampstead Heath, London

The Kenwood Estate in Hampstead Heath was home to Dido Elizabeth Belle, she was daughter to a slave mother and a naval officer father who had her raised at Kenwood by his uncle. She was raised as a free heiress. A painting of Belle and her female second cousin who the family also raised can be seen inside Kenwood, which is now an art museum. The house also contains a beautiful library room. Visit the museum and then take the biography of Belle, written by Paula Byrne out to the grounds to read. Though you may be distracted by the beautiful skyline view of London which can be seen from the estate.

–> Read more in this post: Literary Destination: Kenwood Estate, Home of Dido Elizabeth Belle

Purchase Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice from IndieBound | Amazon

For museum hours and information visit the Kenwood Estate website

7. Charles Dickens Museum

London Literary Site: Charles Dickens Museum

Charles Dickens London home is now a museum and tea room.

Walking through Charles Dickens’ first London home, you’ll learn about the struggles he faced in his personal life, his desire to be the center of attention, and you’ll be able to step before the mirror in his sitting room that he used to perfect his character acting before public readings. The museum uses sounds and smells to tingle many of your senses and totally immerse you in the historical home life of this famous London author.

At the back of the London townhouse you’ll find a tea room with a patio where you may just want to take your scone and afternoon tea snd sit with a book all afternoon after touring the house. Even if you don’t tour the house, you can still enjoy the tea room- and there’s wifi!

–> For more about the Charles Dickens Museum and Tea Room read this post: Step into the 1800s in Charles Dickens’ First London Home

Purchase David Copperfield from IndieBound | Amazon | Audible

For museum and tea room hours and other information visit the Charles Dickens Museum website

8. The George Inn

London Literary Sites: The George Inn

This pub was frequented by Charles Dickens

Besides being London’s only surviving galleried coaching inn, The George was a frequent stop of author Charles Dickens. He even mentioned the inn in his novel Little Dorrit. If you’re hungry after all your touring, The George serves up good English pub food and the courtyard is often full of Brits enjoying a cold pint.

To view the menu and more information, visit The George’s website

9. Waterstones

London Literary Sites: Waterstones Bookstore

The flagship Waterstones at Piccadilly is London’s largest bookstore and possibly the biggest bookstore in Europe. It has SIX floors of books and if you’re not careful, you may find yourself here with your entire day gone! Small seating areas throughout the shop with books lying innocently on coffee tables will suck you in. There’s also a restaurant on the top floor and a cafe on the bottom floor.

–> To read more about Waterstones check out this post: A Five-Story Book-Lover’s Paradise: Waterstones, London

For hours & locations, and more information, visit the Waterstones website

10. British Library

British Library

Even if you can’t check out books at the British Library and don’t have something to study for, you should still visit this Library. The permanent exhibit room has fascinating old and rare books from the archives on display and the rotating exhibit is always interesting as well. And you definitely won’t leave empty handed if you visit the library’s gift shop.

For hours and current exhibit information, visit the British Library website

11. Platform 9 3/4

Platform 9 3/4 shop at Kings Cross Station, London

This is a must for all Harry Potter lovers. While there may not actually be a platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station in London, there is a shop at the station with that name. If you have enough time to wait in line, you can get your photo taken with a cart sticking out of the brick wall, or you can just head right into the shop. Leave yourself plenty of time for this stop because the shop is crowded and the checkout lines are almost as long as the line for the photograph!

For hours and to visit the online shop, visit the Platform 9 3/4 website

12. House of MinaLima

House of MinaLima

The house of MinaLima is a slightly lesser known must-see for Harry Potter fans. Ok, it’s only book related in that it’s related to the films inspired by the books, BUT as the exhibit space of the graphic designers for the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films you can see the original spell book cover! From Harry’s letter to the Daily Profit newspaper images that appear in the films, you’ll see the original prints of the graphic art here.

For hours and more information, visit MinaLima online

13. Dr. Samuel Johnson’s House

Dr. Samuel Johnson's House

 

Dr. Samuel Johnson was the author of the widely used Dictionary of the English Language. He standardized much of the English language that we still use today.

For visiting information for Dr. Johnson’s House museum, visit the website

14. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Just around the corner from Dr. Johnson’s house, the Ye Old Cheshire Cheese pub was once the meeting place of authors and several of them even put the pub in their literary works. Charles Dickens spent many evenings at the pub and alludes to it in his A Tale of Two Cities. P. G. Wodehouse was also a regular and mentions the pub in his books. Even Agatha Christie staged a scene in one of her Poirot mysteries at this pub. These are only a few of the many writers who have dined at the Cheshire Cheese, and according to the pub’s entry in Wikipedia, we even know what some of the writers ate thanks to the Betty Crocker cookbook!

15. Mr. Fogg’s

Mr. Fogg’s is a collection of bars around London inspired by none other than Mr. Fogg from Around the World in 80 Days. According to the website, the establishments will transport you back to the Victorian era and you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into the book.

For locations, menus, and more visit the website

16. Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Poets’ Corner is the section within Westminster Abbey where you’ll find headstones and memorial plaques for several of Britain’s most famous writers. Interestingly, not everyone with a plaque is actually buried at Westminster. For example, although commemorated here, Jane Austen’s final resting place is actually at Winchester Cathedral.  Make sure to look all around you because you’ll find plaques and stones on the walls and beneath your feet.

I suggest getting the audio guide for your tour of Westminster Abbey, and be prepared for crowds. Also, unfortunately photography is not allowed inside, so put away your camera and just enjoy your tour.

For visiting and more information visit the Westminster Abbey website

17. Harry Potter Experience WB Studio Tour

Ok, this one is a bit outside the city, BUT they call it the Studio Tour London, so I’m adding it to this list. To get there, hop on the train and then take a shuttle to the studio from the station. The best way to visit is to reserve studio tickets for a morning time, take the train and then you’ll have all day to wander through the experience at your own pace. There are bus tours from London that will pick you up in the city and drive you there, but your time will be limited to the length of the bus tour.

At your designated ticket time you’ll start your tour in Hogwarts’ Great Hall where you’ll see clothing and props. From there you’ll proceed into a huge room with props and recreated rooms from all the Harry Potter films. You can also get in line for green screen photos of yourself on a broom or in the flying Ford Anglia. When you’re finished with this room you’ll find yourself on Platform 9 3/4 where you can tour the train engine used in the films. Walk down the train corridor and peek into compartments which are decorated for each year of Harry’s journeys on the train to Hogwarts. After this you’ll probably be ready for a butter beer so it’s a good thing the cafe and back lot are next. Although you can’t go in, you’ll see the Night Bus, the front of #4 Private Drive and a couple other sets. Finally you’ll end your day with the models, electronics, and special affects used to create the movie magic. Since my visit, the Forbidden Forest has been added to the displays as well. This experience is a must for Harry Potter fans, just as long as you’re prepared to ruin the movie magic!

–> To read more about the studio tour experience check out this post: The Ultimate Harry Potter Fan Destination: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

For tickets and more information, visit the studio website

Map of Locations & Getting Around

London has great public transportation and a couple iPhone apps make navigating it super simple!
  • The cheapest way to get around is to get a reloadable Oyster Card (subway card) when you arrive and use the subway.
  • Using the Citymapper App, you’ll be able to navigate the subway, buses, trains, and walking around the city like a pro. When you type in your desired destination the app will show you the quickest means to get there, the approximate cost, current delays, the train platform, and even the subway car you should sit in. When walking there’s a nice blue dot on the map that will take you just where you need to go.
  • To get to the sites a little farther from the center of town you’ll want to take the train, but again this is super easy with your app.
  • As for iPhone service- swap out your iPhone sim card when you arrive in Britain with a British sim card for the duration of your stay. Kiosks with sim cards can be found at the major train stations.

Let’s Talk!

Have you been to any of these London sites? Do you want to go? Have I missed any? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

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1 Comment

  1. October 8, 2019 / 10:26 am

    Well done, Elizabeth. This is a marvelous list of literary sites for visitors to London. There are many more, as you point out, but these seventeen could easily take up an entire week already. Anyone wanting to plan a personalized self-guided or escorted tour of London’s literary sites might like to visit the Tours page of my website (see below).

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