Readers can get lost in the world of sentences and paragraphs, scenes and ideas. But nothing compares with retracing the steps of an author and visiting their homes.
Literary pilgrimages can take many shapes:
- tour of an author’s historic home,
- hike to a stirring site,
- road trip to relive a beloved story.
A literary pilgrimage is about having a better understanding of the people who have been shaped by where they lived.
I sat for hours gazing across the sweeping landscape thinking of the great poets. It was magical and inspiring as i fully understood why they spent their lives writing about the places they lived.
I have been on three pilgrimages. It was eerily heartfelt to walk where they had walked, to touch the very walls where they had lived and to sit where they had sat.
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 1770 – 1850
William Wordsworth’s birth home is situated in Cockermouth, a large two story, Georgian townhouse. Wordsworth was orphaned, at age 13, and his world seemingly fell apart. In 1790, he had a passionate relationship with, Frenchwoman, Annette Vallon.
Wordsworth helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature. Dove Cottage became his first true home, after his parents’ deaths. I touched the walls of Dove Cottage eager to soak up the inspiration that Wordsworth felt. The rooms are neat and tiny. I could visualize the great man sitting there.
The Prelude, his most famous work, was published, in 1853.
THOMAS HARDY 1840 – 1928
Thomas Hardy lived in his birth home, is a small cob and thatch, in Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, until age 34. Hardy’s early novels are ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ and ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’. At back of the house is a monument, erected, in 1931, by some American admirers.
The floorboards of Hardy’s room creaked as I walked from doorway to window. I was aching for the view that had inspired such great writing.
In 1874, Hardy married Emma Lavinia Gifford. What first attracted them was their love of books, poetry, nature and a longing to express their feelings. In the end it pushed them apart. After Emma Gifford Hardy’s death, she came to life in all her youthful charm and beauty. His old love was reborn. Until the end of his days, Hardy wrote wonderful love poems about Emma. Hardy was by nature a scholar and a writer. It is what goes on in the mind that holds us. Hardy’s mind was rich with impressions.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE 1564 – 1616
Shakespeare, the greatest writer in the English language, was born and died in Stratford-upon-Avon. At age 18 he married Ann Hathaway and had three children.
By 1592, he had became known as an actor and playwright. Shakespeare Globe Theatre was build from oak, backroom deals, and stolen playhouse frames, in what was the ‘bad’ part of Southwark, now the heart of London.
Shakespeare died at age 52 and was survived by his wife. She was bequeathed his second-best bed. This left many wondering who inherited his best-bed!
I had walked where Shakespeare had walked and I sat in the garden when Shakespeare sat as a child.
Literary walks are a great way to get a
better understanding of the lives of great scholars.
Video documentaries: Wordsworth – Hardy – Shakespeare
“Linda has published fifteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work. How to build your online platform. Getting reviews and how to self-publish.”