LITERARY LINKS IN OXFORDSHIRE
Oxfordshire’s Literary Links Oxfordshire’s literary heritage is impressive, with some of the most famous authors, both past and present, having been born, studied or resided in the city and county. Here we pick out places in the county that have featured or inspired some of literature’s most famous novels.
Eagle and Child
Oxford Botanic Gardens
The River & Rowing Museum
The Eagle and Child pub in Oxford was a meeting place for the Inklings: a group of Oxford writers including C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien who met to discuss literature and to read their work aloud. Enjoy a pint as you sit in the same room as these literary greats did.
At the end of the Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials trilogy’, protagonists Lyra and Will agree to sit on a bench in the Oxford Botanic Gardens once a year on Midsummer’s day for an hour, as it’s an object that stands parallel between the two worlds they live in. Explore the gardens and you will find this very bench.
In Henley-on-Thames is the River & Rowing Museum, home to a wonderful Wind in the Willows exhibition. The interactive exhibition is a celebration of the magic of Ratty, Mole and Mr Toad - a must see for fans of the books.
River Thames Many great novels were inspired by the River Thames, but one particularly relevant to Oxfordshire is Alice in Wonderland. One sunny afternoon in 1862 an Oxford don, Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, took the 10-yearold Alice Liddell on a boat trip up the River Thames. To entertain Alice and her sisters, he made up a story about a girl who fell down a rabbit hole in a world called ‘Wonderland’. This story later became Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, one of the most beloved children’s books of all time. St Mary’s Passage Wander down St Mary’s Passage just off the Radcliffe Square and you will see a small wooden carving of a fawn on a door frame. This architectural detail is said to have inspired the development of Mr Tumnus - a character in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series.
C. S. Lewis Nature Reserve The beautiful nature reserve used to belong to C. S. Lewis, author of the beloved Chronicles of Narnia series. It is rumoured that the nature reserve could have been the inspiration for Lewis’ writing, as well as being an influence on J. R. R. Tolkien when he created the land of Middle Earth in Lord of The Rings.
The Painted Room In central Oxford above the busy Cornmarket Street is one of Oxford’s hidden treasures - The Painted Room. This is the remains of the 14th Century Crown Tavern, a pub where Shakespeare is believed to have been friendly with the vintners, and stayed with them when he was on his way from Stratford-uponAvon to London.
Juniper Hill The hamlet of Juniper Hill in Cottisford, Oxfordshire, was where author Flora Thompson was born in 1876. She then fictionalised the hamlet as Lark Rise in her prolific Lark Rise to Candleford trilogy. The stories also refer to Candleford, the nearest town to Lark Rise, which is a fictionalised version of Bicester.
To further explore the rich literary history of Oxford you can book onto Oxford Official Walking Tours Oxford Literary tour. W www.experienceoxfordshire.org/ official-tours T 01865 686442
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