After reading this travel piece by Charlie Lovett in The New York Times back in December, I realized, somewhat reluctantly, that I might be one of these people. Not about Jane Austen though. While I have no desire to traipse through Hamilton, follow stagecoach routes from London, or elbow my way through Chawton Cottage with busloads of self-described “Janeites,” I would blissfully brave a crush of the most ardent Bloomsbury groupies to visit Virginia Woolf’s homes and haunts. The magnitude of the Virginia Woolf mania is only slightly less immense than that of Jane Austen, yet it feels somehow more dignified, perhaps because of the intimacy of the places and spaces. Most compellingly, Monk’s House with its casually bohemian interiors, original writing shed, Leonard’s conservatory, the fanatically tended garden, fruit orchard, and South Downs trails. In her diary, Virginia wrote about Monk’s House: “I had so much of the most profound interest to write here – a dialogue of the soul with the soul – and I have let it slip – why? Because of feeding the goldfish, of looking at the new pond, of playing bowls… happiness.” I only recently discovered that you can stay overnight in the garden studio at Monk’s House, GASP. The absolute ultimate literary bolthole. And you can visit Charleston Farmhouse and Sissinghurst Castle while you’re there.
A few other literature-related travel destinations worth exploring:
You can book a stay in Keats’ apartment in Rome at the foot of the Spanish steps.
Or stay at this rustic organic goji berry farm in New Mexico, where both DH Lawrence and Aldous Huxley once lived and wrote.
This stone farmhouse in the rural village of Lacam de Loubressac overlooking the Dordogne River Valley is owned by a well-known poet who wishes to remain anonymous, and in case this legitimizes the lit cred, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath have stayed here. It looks beautiful.