For those studying English Literature, an educational visit to a top literary destination can greatly boost appreciation of texts and their cultural contexts – as well as providing inspiration for any budding writers among your class. As the home of so many of the English language’s great novelists, poets and playwrights, London is an ideal destination for such a trip. The city’s thriving publishing and performing industries will inject anyone interested in the way writing interacts with the world with excitement and enthusiasm. Here are some of the top attractions that this city of great writing has to offer.
London’s literary heritage spans many centuries, and many old traditions have been well-preserved. An educational visit to the capital is an excellent opportunity to experience Shakespeare’s plays as his original audience would have seen them. The Globe was built especially for the Bard’s works, and early 17th century theatre-goers flocked there in droves. The role that the theatre played in the literary culture of the time is not to be underestimated, and several references to the building can be found written into the plays themselves. The reconstructed Globe shows contemporary audiences how the original productions would have looked to audiences. Today’s patrons are offered the choice between emulating the ‘groundlings’ by standing around the stage, or the theatre’s wealthier visitors, by sitting in the circular seat-filled ‘walls’.
Actors are often seen engaging with the audience, another authentic Shakespearean experience. Round off your visit to the theatre by viewing the Globe Exhibition, which offers students a wealth of further information about the medieval theatre and literary ‘scene’.
The British Library
Located on Euston Road, the country’s most impressive library is more than just a collection of books – it houses some of Britain’s greatest literary treasures. Whichever authors, movements or periods of literature your class is studying, including the British Library on your educational visit itinerary could mean the chance to see some relevant manuscripts or rare books. Be sure to check what special exhibitions are currently on, as they often contain fascinating objects and information on a wide range of literary subjects. There are also often lectures and talks that may also be of interest.
Charles Dickens’ House
Dickens lived in many houses throughout his life and literary career in London, but the only one that has survived until today is at 48 Doughty Street. It is where the author lived between 1837 and 1840 and worked on Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. For any group on an educational visit with an interest in either the author himself or Victorian literary life in general, the well- preserved house and the museum it contains – including reconstructed rooms and an impressive collection of memorabilia – provides fascinating layers of insight.