"... as I crossed the threshold, I felt as if I had suddenly moved to the sites of antiquity and was going to get lost in the shadows of the past". (Washington Irving, Geoffrey Crayon`s notebook).
By Walter Raymond
Great literary works often serve as exciting unofficial tourist guides, inviting the imagination to travel to their fictional scenarios.
The passionate reader usually walks through the same foggy streets alongside the characters, filling their lungs with the fresh air on the Thames, or drinking a cup of tea, while imagining Lord Byron passionately reciting "She walks in beauty, like the night ..."
These is a long list of sites in the UK where travelers can live the magic of books.
An evening at Bloomsbury
Jane Austen Centre
The experiences and images arising from reading stay in the reader's minds as treasured memories. At the right moment and time, they emerge in all their intensity. One example is when one arrives at the Bloomsbury District in London, more precisely number 48 Doughty Street, the house where Charles Dickens wrote Oliver Twist.
Turned into a museum, this building has the world`s largest collection of objects and memorabilia related to the author. It is possible to snoop around in the room where Dickens wrote, page after page, his stark vision of London in the first half of the 19th century.
You can also view his private world and admire the books, paintings and personal objects that surrounded him. Not only that: you can even share an extraordinary evening, talking about literature in a room lit by chandeliers in the style of the time.
Bath: a journey into the past
In Bath, a small city located in the Somerset County in southwest England and not far from Bristol, you can feel immersed for a few hours in the distant past.
On Gay Street number 40, the Jane Austen Centre presents is a permanent exhibition of the 19th-century lifestyle so masterfully reflected by the author.
Dozens of actors dressed in period costumes recreate the situations described by Austen in Sense and Sensibility (1811), and Pride and Prejudice (1813), among other works.
Austen is also present in the form of a wax figure created by a forensic artist with the collaboration of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).
Would you like a cup of tea or coffee? Perhaps a glass of champagne? In the Jane Austen Centre, visitors can enjoy those treats served by charming ladies dressed in Victorian wear.
The Folio Society
The search for more literary secrets will lead you to 44 Eagle Street, to the headquarters of The Folio Society.
The Folio Society is a publishing house founded in 1947 that specializes in the finest literary works but with the refinement of elaborate and exquisite bindings that transform every book into a work of art.
But if what you want is to enter the almost infinite world of knowledge and fantasy, at number 96 of Euston Road you will find the magic door to the treasures of the past and present of British Literature: The British Library.
Jane Austen Centre
The Lady Stairs House
In Edinburgh, Scotland, the legendary Lady Stairs House— built in 1622— hosts the Writers Museum, dedicated to three great representatives of Scottish literature: Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson.
The personal objects, manuscripts and some old editions of their remarkable novels bring us closer to the lives of these masters of literature. In their rooms, it is also possible to close your eyes and let yourself go to distant lands, inspired by the fascinating stories told by specialized guides.■