My Literary Trip to Scotland

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Ever since I wrote about my top literary places to visit, I have been chomping at the bit to get exploring! I’m always drawn to places where people lived/live that I admire. For example, in August, I visited Oxford, home of CS Lewis, Tolkien, and various Harry Potter filming locations, and this October just passed I visited Scotland! I was drawn to Edinburgh in particular because of its literary links but also for its historical element, as it was the home of Mary Queen of Scots. (Blog post about her coming soon!)

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Above: On the train journey to Scotland.

Scotland is home to one of my favourite series, Harry Potter, as JK Rowling lived (and still lives) in Edinburgh whilst she was writing the stories. We went to various locations around the city that held history for Harry. The first stop we went to was the Greyfriars Kirkyard filled with graves which Rowling stole names from for characters for the series. We managed to find Tom Riddle, a McGonagall and a Scrimgeour! Victoria Street, just around the corner from the graveyard, also claims to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley.

Above: McGonagall, Riddell and Scrymgeour graves and Victoria Street.

We also visited The Elephant House where JK Rowling wrote a lot of Philosopher’s Stone and also another cafe named Spoon. But Rowling isn’t the old city’s claim to fame. Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer of Sherlock Holmes, was born in Edinburgh, in the home of 11 Picardy Place. To commemorate, there is a statue of Sherlock outside the home which has now become a restaurant. Across the road, there is also a pub, named the Conan Doyle, after the author.

Above: The Elephant House cafe, the Sherlock Holmes statue, and the Conan Doyle pub.

We also visited the Writer’s Museum (which is also free to enter!) which chronicled the lives of Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Robert Burns. Having only read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he was the only author that I knew a little bit about but still didn’t know his full story. The museum was also doing an installation on Ian Rankin, another Scottish novelist.

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Above: The bust of Robert Louis Stevenson inside the Writer’s Museum.

There was so much to see and do in Edinburgh when it came to literary themes, not just history. There were even historical walks that lead you through the lives of writer’s, but we didn’t get a chance to go on that, and it’s something that I would really recommend any literary fiend doing.

As I said in my blog post on literary places, I’m hoping to work my way through them and so next on the list is hopefully Haworth where the Bronte’s lived!

Have you ever been to Edinburgh? Or have I made you want to take on your own literary pilgrimage? Let me know in the comments!

Gothic Reads for Halloween!

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Autumn is my favourite season, and I love nothing better than getting cosy with a blanket, a cup of tea and a book. This season I’ll be trying to pick up more Gothic reads, especially as Halloween is right around the corner. Here are my top five I think you should be reading over the holiday season.

These books are in no particular order.

1

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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The scientist Victor Frankenstein, obsessed with possessing the secrets of life, creates a new being from the bodies of the dead. But his creature is a twisted, gruesome parody of a man who, rejected for his monstrous appearance, sets out to destroy his maker. – from Goodreads.com

Perhaps THE original Gothic horror novel, and if you’re not sufficiently scared out of your wits by the source material you can always watch the critically acclaimed and scary as hell adaptation by Kenneth Branagh.

2

Dr Jeykll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Published as a shilling shocker, Robert Louis Stevenson’s dark psychological fantasy gave birth to the idea of the split personality. The story of respectable Dr Jekyll’s strange association with damnable young man Edward Hyde; the hunt through fog-bound London for a killer; and the final revelation of Hyde’s true identity is a chilling exploration of humanity’s basest capacity for evil. – from Goodreads.com

The novel that kick started the “split personality plot device”, although Dr Jeykll doesn’t just lose his mind when he becomes Mr Hyde, his body changes too. This one is very short, so if you’re looking for a Gothic novel to read on your lunch break then this one is for you.

3

Dracula by Bram Stoker

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When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula with the purchase of a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries about his client and his castle. Soon afterwards, a number of disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman’s neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the imminent arrival of his ‘Master’. – from Goodreads.com

I think it’s safe to assume that all these books I’ll be presenting to you are corner stones of their genre. Dracula kick started the popularity of vampire books, which ultimately led us to Twilight. A lot of vampire cliches originate from this book, which just goes to show how much it is still considered in popular culture.

4

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life; indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence. – from Goodreads.com

Another “split personality” book, although this time the main character places his debauchery inside a portrait whilst he lives out the rest of his eternal life. Does that sound sensible to you? Of course not, but to say that it catches up with Dorian is an understatement.

5

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

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Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before: of the intense passion between the foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and her betrayal of him. As Heathcliff’s bitterness and vengeance is visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past. – from Goodreads.com

One of my favourites and so atmospheric! The moors, the wind, Wuthering Heights and Thurshcross Grange towering above. On a windy night, you could almost hear Cathy tapping at your window.

These are the top five books I would recommend to read for Halloween. What books made your list? Let me know in the comments!