The hottest literary travel destinations (to visit when lockdown ends)

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From George Orwell’s Isle of Jura to Willa Cather’s Nebraskan frontier … with travel restricted to the imagination, Henry Eliot picks the most memorable and beautiful literary locations

As a child I once found a set of old photographs of my home, with unknown people posing. I stood in the exact same spots, imagining a shiver of communication. I have since had the same experience standing in Virginia Woolf’s writing lodge at Monk’s House, or surveying the fields of Waterloo from Napoleon’s headquarters, or looking up at the empty sky above Ground Zero. Sharing the same airspace as another human from another time, standing on the same patch of the planet, is a profound feeling. It is similar to the effect of reading a novel: your imagination bridges the gulf between someone else’s experience and your own, and expands your understanding in the process.

That’s why I get a particular thrill from visiting literary locations. Reading is a creative collaboration, so being in the environment that inspired a novelist enhances the place and the novel: the setting is overlaid with the events of the book and the book becomes more tangible and memorable as a result.

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