Friday, November 21, 2008

A Writer's Guide to London

This is my last post on my trip to London. I promise. When I travel, I like to see the places frequented by writers, living and dead. I already posted about the Globe Theatre, here and here.

On our last day in London, DH and I visited Waterstone’s, the largest bookstore in Europe. Six of the store’s eight floors are packed with books. I perused the children’s section and romance section. I saw many of my favorite children’s books there, including the British editions of the Harry Potter books. The romance section was stocked with mostly vampire books and historical romance. I was surprised to see contemporary romance missing.

That same day, we went to afternoon tea at Brown’s Hotel. This was the first hotel to open in London in 1837. It has hosted several famous visitors including Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, who stayed there on their honeymoon, Alexander Graham Bell, who made the first telephone call from the United Kingdom at the hotel in 1876, and Rudyard Kipling, who wrote part of The Jungle Book there.

But that is not why I chose Brown’s Hotel from all of the establishments offering afternoon tea. One of the English Tea Room’s most famous frequent visitors was Agatha Christie. She wrote At Bertram’s Hotel in the tea room, inspired by the hotel and its patrons. While we were there, I wondered if she sat near the same fireplace, observing the other guests, penning her novel in longhand.

Well, okay, and I also wondered if anyone would ever care where I sit to write my stories. Are you inspired by the haunts of famous writers? Can you pass a bookstore without going in to see what treasures are shelved inside? Are you a travel guide planner or a wander about visitor?


Shauna Roberts said...

I'd love to see that bookstore. How surprising that the English taste for romance is so different from here.

We do a lot of planning for our trips but incorporate time to just wander about and serendipitously discover cool stuff.

Rae Ann Parker said...

SHAUNA, the bookstore was fascinating. I would love to visit other English bookstores to see if the selections in the romance department were more diverse. I am always drawn to bookstores.

Alli said...

I absolutely LOVE to go places frequented by other writers. I like to imagine exactly where they sat, what they thought, what they saw. (Yeah, I'm a bit of a geek). And I am now thinking that I should move to Britain, since I like those sorts of romances... Waterstones was made for me :)

Rae Ann Parker said...

Hi ALLI: Thanks for stopping by the blog. I think your interest in imagining what other people were doing at a certain time and place just makes you a writer, certainly not a geek. :)

cs harris said...

I have two wonderful books, one on Johnson's London, another on Dickens' London. And yeah, I sometimes wonder if any of today's writers will still be read a hundred years from now, with plaques that say "So-and-so wrote X here." With libraries purging books that aren't read in two years, one wonders.

Rae Ann Parker said...

CANDICE, I remember the first time I learned that libraries purge the books not read in 2 or 3 years, I cringed. I wanted to run out to my local library and try to save the books.