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Five of the Best Literary Travel Guides to Britain

The best literary travelogues

There are plenty of books out there telling the story of English literature: its history and development. But what about those guidebooks which take a geographical approach to literary Britain, and offer suggestions for places to visit around the UK based on their literary associations? Here are five of our favourite literary guides to travelling around Britain.

Oliver Tearle, Britain by the Book. Forgive the hutzpah of beginning with an Interesting Literature production, but this curious tour of literary Britain, written by this blog’s founder, is designed to be a light, entertaining, and above all, interesting guide to the literary history of Britain: a sort of cross between a guidebook and a book of literary trivia. If you want to discover the true location of Robin Hood (not Sherwood Forest), or the location of King Arthur’s court (not Camelot), or the Dorset writer who Read the rest of this entry

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Britain by the Book: The Curious Story of the Third Printing Press in Britain

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, we offer a brief excerpt from Dr Oliver Tearle’s new book, Britain by the Book: A Curious Tour of Our Literary Landscape

I’ve often thought that someone should write a book about interesting thirds. Firsts are interesting, of course, and the silver-medallists of history have their place, but the third of something is often fascinating in ways that can baffle and surprise.

Take Shakespeare’s First Folio, for instance – or rather, don’t take that, take his Third Folio instead. Copies of the Third Folio are worth more than a First Folio (which itself sells for a small fortune at auctions), because most of the Third Folios perished in the Great Fire of London. In the confessedly unlikely event that you should find an old Third Folio gathering dust in your attic, don’t throw it out thinking collectors are interested only in first editions.

Or consider the third university set up in England, which was in, of all places, Read the rest of this entry

Five Little-Known Facts about Britain’s Literary Heritage

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle offers a taste of the literary trivia on offer in his new book about literary Britain

Today, this blog turns five years old. I’d like to thank everyone who’s supported it since its beginnings on 1 December 2012, whenever you happened to discover us. And as it’s our five-year anniversary, today seems like a nice moment to tell you a bit more about my new book, which is full of interesting literary trivia about Britain, and which I unveiled in a fact-filled blog post last month.

British history is steeped in interesting literary associations and connections. My new book, Britain by the Book: A Curious Tour of Our Literary Landscape (John Murray), gathers together some of the lesser-known and more surprising facts about Britain’s literary past. For instance, did you know…

A Manchester librarian invented the world’s most famous thesaurus as a way of coping with depression. The terms ‘Roget’ and ‘thesaurus’ have become, happily, synonymous: although dictionaries of synonyms existed before Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869) published his Thesaurus in 1852, Roget was the first person to apply the term ‘thesaurus’ to such a book. By the time Read the rest of this entry