What's New in Literary England 2017

Fri, 02/06/2017 - 14:27


Activities, Tours, Trails and Holidays

Jane Austen 200th Anniversary Tour, various locations
Against a nostalgic backdrop of small villages and stately homes, Jane Austen's novels take their readers back to an idyllic 19th Century England. Having successfully run Jane Austen tours for several years, this new celebratory trip from Tours International includes special anniversary events and exhibitions, as well as the houses which inspired the grand homes in Austen’s novels and visits to Jane's childhood home in Steventon; Chawton and the museum of Austen memorabilia; Winchester, where she died and is buried; Lyme Regis, which featured in Persuasion; the British Library to see her writing desk and manuscript; and many more! All enhanced by Georgian-style afternoon teas and classic pub lunches. Travel and accommodation (excluding flights) will be organised for you.

CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien Tour, Oxford
Throughout 201
This specialist tour covers the regular haunts of the two most famous writers in the Inklings, Oxford’s legendary literary group. Led by an expert guide, the tour visits the pub the Inklings met in, the colleges associated with the two writers, and sites that offer a glimpse into the imaginary worlds created by the pair. The tour runs once a month on a Saturday throughout 2017.

Discover England’s Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy tours, southern England
Throughout 2017
Discover England Tours has tours dedicated to two giants of English literature. New for 2017, to mark the 200th anniversary of the writer’s death, is the four-night Jane Austen Literary Tour, which visits: Austen’s family homes; Bath and Lyme Regis, which both inspired Austen; her grave in Winchester Cathedral; and film locations from screen adaptations of the author’s novels. Not new but decidedly noteworthy in VisitEngland’s Year of Literary Heroes is the two-day Thomas Hardy Literary Tour. It visits: Dorset villages typical of Hardy’s novels; places that inspired some of his finest works; Hardy’s cottage and birthplace as well as his later home; the church where his heart is buried next to his two wives; and the extensive Hardy Collection in Dorset County Museum.

Sherlock Holmes 125th Anniversary Tour, various locations
The year 2017 marks the 125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes publication – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, published in 1892. This new anniversary tour, which has been adapted from the previous Sherlock Holmes tour, retraces Sir Conan Doyle's steps, visiting his favourite haunts in London and the South-East, plus the locations which inspired him when writing about the renowned detective. Tour highlights include 221B Baker Street – now the Sherlock Holmes museum showcasing a recreation of his study and Dr Watson's bedroom; the Langham Hotel which famously hosted a dinner between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde; Doyle's house in Crowborough and Groombridge Place, scene of The Valley of the Fear; and many more!

New trails added to ‘Tess's Journey’ – Foot Trails’ Hardy Tales walking trip, Dorset
Discover Dorset with this inn-to-inn style walking trip which enables guests to walk in the footsteps of one of the most well-known characters of Hardy's novels, Tess D'Urbervilles. New trails include exploring on foot the magnificent views of Shaftesbury, the “Shaston” of Thomas Hardy’s novels, one of the oldest and highest towns in England, which dominates what Hardy called the “engirdled and secluded” Blackmore Vale. Each holiday is tailored to suit guests’ requirements and the season. From £565 per person for 4 nights, including all transfers.

New trail added to Somerset Knights Quest experience, South Somerset and Dorset
Foot Trails have introduced a new independent trail of 8/11 miles to the Somerset Knights Quest experience, which offers peaceful trails across rural Somerset – where you can explore stunning castles, historic stone villages and a hill fort where legends of King Arthur and his knights resound. The new trail will incorporate villages and locations at Dorset borders that have a strong Saxon history and story to tell – right at the time Arthur is said to have existed. You will stay at a 17th country inn and the holiday will be planned for you to your dates and for how long you wish to stay. Prices start from £320 per person for 3 nights. Explore this area steeped in history, legends and ancient stories as King Arthur fever spreads across the country ahead of the release of the film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword in May.

Celebrate 80 years of The Hobbit with a journey through Tolkien country with Drifters’ canal boat holiday, Worcester & Birmingham Canal
Take a narrow boat to explore some of the landscapes that inspired Tolkien’s masterpiece The Hobbit, which will be celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2017. Tolkien spent much of his childhood exploring the village of Sarehole (now Hall Green), Moseley Bog, the Malvern Hills, and nearby Bromsgrove, Alcester and Alvechurch. On a short break with Drifters, travel lock-free to the village of Lapworth and back.  On a week’s holiday, cruise the Stourport Ring, including a section of the River Severn and the cathedral City of Worcester. Short break prices on a boat for four start at £520 in 2017, weekly hire from £800.

The Forbidden Forest opens at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
31 March 2017
The latest permanent addition to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter is the Forbidden Forest. Visitors will come face to face with the enormous spider Aragog the Acromantula and bow to Buckbeak the Hippogriff as they wander through 19 trees, each with a diameter of over 12 feet. The Forest will showcase the detail and craftsmanship that went into creating the Forest’s magical creatures, and demo techniques used by filmmakers to control the weather.

New Beatrix Beyond Hill Top tour, Ambleside, Cumbria
April ­– October (every second Saturday)
This new tour takes you beyond the familiar Hill Top setting, Beatrix Potter's 17th-century farmhouse that helped inspire many of her tales, to see the whole of Beatrix Potter's legacy in the village of Near Sawrey. Discover how modern day Sawrey still retains many of the views Beatrix was determined to preserve and find out how those living in the village today, inspired by Beatrix, are finding new ways to make a living from farming and from the fleece of Herdwick sheep descended from Beatrix Potter's own flocks. Priced at £25 per adult, including entry to Hill Top and exclusive access to the farmyard and Castle Cottage.

The Hardy Way walking tour, Dorset/Wiltshire
1 April – 31 October 2017
Inntravel’s new walking tour, The Hardy Way, follows the footsteps of Thomas Hardy characters along Britain’s first literature-themed long-distance path. Inntravel collaborated with Margaret Marande, author of The Hardy Way – A 19th-century Pilgrimage, to create this six-night self-guided holiday that cherry-picks the highlights of her 220-mile curated walk through Hardy’s quintessential Wessex landscapes.

The first Deepings Literary Festival, Lincolnshire
28 – 30 April
The first ever Deepings Literary Festival is a festival for everyone who enjoys words – the written word, the spoken word, the recited word and the sung word too. Over three days, the Deepings will host a stellar cast of writers of both fiction and non-fiction, storytellers and folk singers. Amongst this year’s speakers will be Alison Weir, acclaimed British novelist and historian, who will speak about Fotheringhay and the fall of Mary Queen of Scots. Fans of Erica James will have a chance to have lunch with the popular author and aspiring authors can attend a workshop with novelist Louise Doughty. The star event is a black tie gala dinner with writer, broadcaster and former MP, Gyles Brandreth.

New cultural tour of Cornwall
29 April 2017
HF Holidays new ‘Artists and Writers in Cornwall’ tour will follow in the footsteps of Daphne Du Maurier, Barbara Hepworth and Poldark as it explores top Cornish artistic centres such as St Ives, Fowey and Charlestown. The seven-night tour departs 29 April 2017.

New Hound of the Baskervilles-themed pub to feature on specialist tour, Devon
Spring 2017
The Royal Oak pub in Ashburton will have a Hound of the Baskervilles theme when it reopens, earning it a place on Unique Devon Tours’ The Hound of the Baskervilles Tour itinerary. The tour covers the

Archaeologist Guided Tours of King Arthur’s Glastonbury, Stonehenge and Avebury
May – September (select dates)
This feature-packed archaeological tour takes in the iconic stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury, and delves into the legend and archaeology of King Arthur’s Glastonbury. The film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword will be released in May, so brush up on your Arthurian knowledge and visit locations associated with the fables. Leaving from London by luxury bus, this Stonehenge tour will explore its iconic standing stones and broader landscape with expert analysis by our archaeologist guides. Midday on towards the Isle of Avalon, following delightful back roads until Glastonbury Tor where legend tells us King Arthur was brought after being mortally wounded in battle and then the enigmatic ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, Arthur's place of burial. Finish by visiting the largest stone circle in Europe at Avebury, with its beautiful medieval village situated inside. Adults £99; Senior/Child £95.

New Tennyson Trail leaflet, Lincolnshire
May 2017
Ahead of the 125th anniversary in October of the death of Alfred, Lord Tennyson a new Tennyson Trail leaflet is being launched in Lincolnshire in May. Tennyson (1809-1892) was born and brought up in the Lincolnshire Wolds, and the gentle rolling landscape provided inspiration for some of his early work. Visitors to the county are able to follow in the footsteps of the famous poets on the Tennyson Trail including Somersby where he was born and spent his early years, the countryside that inspired him, picturesque Tetford, where the 16th-century White Hart Inn served as the poet’s local, and Tennyson’s ‘haunt of ancient peace’ at Gunby Hall, near Spilsby. The trail also features the Lincolnshire coast including Mablethorpe where Tennyson spent his childhood holidays.

Row the Literary Thames, Oxford to London    
3 September (new dates may be added)
What better way of illuminating England’s most famous literary heroes than by rowing the river that inspired them? Row England will be running new, fully guided literary-themed rowing trips, starting in Oxford with a picnic on the very spot on the banks of the Thames in Godstow where, in July 1865, the real life Charles Dodgson entertained Alice Liddell with fantastical stories; Charles Dodgson wrote under the pen name Lewis Carroll, and the tales he told were recorded in the book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. You’ll also stop at Marlow, where Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein; Cookham Deane, where as a child Kenneth Grahame was inspired to write Wind in the Willows; Mapledurham House, the real life inspiration for Toad Hall – to name a few! A seven day trip costs £1400 and includes accommodation in cosy riverside inns and classic hotels.


Attractions and Exhibitions

Strange Worlds: Visions of Angela Carter at the RWA, Bristol
Until 19 March
The Royal West of England Academy presents a major exhibition which brings together art and literature to explore the enormous impact of author, journalist and magical realist Angela Carter - one of the most distinctive literary voices of the last 100 years. Alongside painting, sculpture, drawing and film, the show includes illustrations from Carter's books, manuscripts, photographs and personal artefacts, giving a compelling insight into her visual imagination.

Jane Austen Among Family and Friends, The British Library, London
Until 19 February
To mark the bicentenary of the death of one of England’s most-loved writers, Jane Austen, the British Library are bringing together writings from Austen’s formative teenage years for the first time in 40 years. The British Library are uniting the three treasured notebooks that Austen kept of her teenage writings, which include The Beautiful Cassandra, a story dedicated to Austen’s sister, and a spoof history of England featuring illustrations of the Kings and Queens by Cassandra Austen. The exhibits reveal family joys and sorrows which shaped the writer: one letter tells of Austen’s sorrow on the death of her father, while a poem expresses the joy Austen felt on the birth of her nephew.

JRR Tolkien in Staffordshire, Stafford Library, Staffordshire
Until 27 February
This touring exhibition focuses on JRR Tolkien’s Staffordshire connections, particularly the time he spent in Staffordshire during the First World War. Copies of original artwork, such as domestic scenes and landscapes drawn in Staffordshire by Tolkien in 1918, are included along with photographs especially loaned by the Tolkien Estate and Bodleian Library. The exhibition was in Lichfield Library from 19 November 2016 – 8 January 2017 before moving to Stafford Library. Admission is free.

Medieval Manuscripts of Cirencester Abbey 900, Corinium Museum, Gloucestershire
16 January – 21 May
Revel in this rare opportunity to see the Abbey 900 manuscripts which were housed in Cirencester Abbey Library at its Dissolution in 1539, before being displayed in the Cotswolds market town. Loaned to the Corinium Museum by the Bodleian Library and Jesus College Oxford, the centuries old manuscripts will form part of the major celebrations to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the founding of Cirencester’s Augustinian Abbey of St Mary, by King Henry 1 in 1117. These year-long celebrations will include concerts, photography and flower competitions, guided walks of the abbey, athletics events, performing arts and two re-enactments.

Quentin Blake: Inside Stories, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle
11 March – 8 July
This exhibition from House of Illustration gives a unique insight into the origins of some of Quentin Blakes most characteristic and popular creations, from his illustrations for Roald Dahls classic Childrens books to The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams. Inside Stories showcases Blake’s first roughs, storyboards and finished artworks, demonstrating how his ideas evolve, as well as his use of a wide range of different techniques and media to create his distinctive and unforgettable illustrations, including inks, watercolours and pastels.

The Word-Hoard: Love Letters to Our Land at Wordsworth House, Cumbria
11 March – 3 September
A stunning new exhibition at Wordsworth House in Cockermouth celebrates the beauty of our landscape and the evocative language once used to describe it. Guest-curated by award-winning author Robert Macfarlane, The Word-Hoard: Love Letters to Our Land features breath-taking images by his parents, Cumbrian photographers Rosamund and John. The exhibition builds on themes Macfarlane explored in his best-selling book Landmarks, responding to startling deletions from the Oxford Junior Dictionary, which ranged from acorn and bluebell to otter and wren. Free with entry to the house and garden.

Arnold Bennett: In Life and Art, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery
18 February – 2 July
Dipping into the museum’s world-class Arnold Bennett collections of artworks, personal possessions and clothing, photographs, documents and ephemera, this exhibition creates new perspectives on the man, his life and times, marking the 150th anniversary of his birth.It will draw on many of the artefacts, watercolours and other Bennett materials held in the Museum’s collection, many of which have not been on public display before.

The Gruffalo River Ride adventure opening at Chessington World of Adventures, Surrey
Opening 18 March
Based on the best-selling children's book by Julia Donaldson, visitors will join the story's brave mouse character on a magical riverboat journey through the deep dark wood. As you float down the lazy river, the world of The Gruffalo will magically unfold in front of your eyes, with exciting twists and turns along the way!

Draw New Mischief exhibition, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire
25 February – 15 September
This new exhibition celebrates more than two centuries of political cartoons inspired by Shakespeare,
including historic and recent political cartoons and new commissions by five cartoonists. Shakespeare’s plays have been a touchstone for cartoonists who have drawn upon them to comment upon the political events and personalities of their time. Shakespeare’s incredible capacity to reflect human behaviour continues to provide cartoonists with a ready stock of rich imagery that resonates with the reading public. The exhibition is free.

The Forbidden Forest, Warner Bros Studio Tour, London
31 March
This exciting, permanent expansion to the Studio is dedicated to the Forbidden Forest, a place strictly off-limits to ‘Hogwarts’ students, but ready to be explored by the public. As you venture deeper into the forest, you’ll come face to face with its majestic creatures, and see the magnificent detail and craftsmanship that went into creating each one.

Lincolnshire’s Tennyson Research Centre, Lincolnshire
Previously housed in the dome of Lincoln Central Library, this spring Lincolnshire’s Tennyson Research Centre is moving to a new home and will offer increased visitor access to a huge array of historic manuscripts, proofs, letters, photographs and personal belongings. Previously, anyone wanting to view the collection had to make an appointment, but from April there will be more public access without the need to book at the new Centre, within the Lincolnshire Archives on Rumbold Street, Lincoln. Collection highlights feature Tennyson’s Library, containing over 3,000 books reflecting his intellectual curiosity and often annotated by the poet himself, as well as around 200 proofs of Tennyson’s poetry, many significantly corrected in the poet’s own hand, including altered galley proofs of ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’. Among almost 9,000 letters is one of sympathy from Queen Victoria to Tennyson on the death of his son and another from Prince Albert asking the poet for his autograph, while personal possessions include his pipes, spectacles, hat and cloak. The move is following the recent restoration, thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding, of Somersby’s St Margaret’s Church, the 15th century church where Tennyson’s father was rector.
www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/tennyson; www.visitlincolnshire.com/content/literary-lincolnshire

Reopening of the Lyme Regis Museum, Dorset
The Lyme Regis Museum will be reopening in 2017 after a major refurbishment that began in September 2016. The museum has fantastic literary collections on Jane Austen, John Fowles and Tracey Chevalier. Lyme holds a number of connections with respected writers, many of whom are represented in the museum, these include: Henry Fielding, Jane Austen, Francis Palgrave, Oscar Wilde, J.R.R. Tolkien and Tracy Chevalier.

Fickle Fortunes:  Jane Austen and Germaine de Staël, Chawton House Library, Hampshire
12 June – October
July 1817 saw two deaths: Jane Austen, and Germaine de Staël a long-standing superstar of pan-European intellectual, political and literary life. This four month exhibition will present related items in the library’s own collection alongside rare items sourced from other international research libraries. During the exhibition Chawton House Library will host an international conference: ‘Reputations, Legacies, Futures: Jane Austen, Germaine de Staël, and their contemporaries.’

Jane Austen by the Sea, Royal Pavilion, Brighton
17 June 2017 – 8 January 2018
This display in the Royal Pavilion will explore Jane Austen’s relationship with coastal resorts, and life in Brighton during her time, to mark the bicentenary of her death.  It will paint a picture of the fashionable watering hole in the early 1800s, when it was a thriving garrison town featured in Austen’s novels alongside other towns all along the south coast.  Curator Dr Alexandra Loske has gathered items including one of Jane Austen’s music books, rare manuscripts and letters and key loans yet to be announced.  These will sit alongside prints, paintings and caricatures of the resorts and fashions popular with coastal visitors in Austen’s lifetime, and original Regency costumes from Brighton & Hove’s own collection.

Arthur Rackham in Sussex: A 150th Birthday Celebration, Bateman’s, East Sussex
8 September – 29 October
To celebrate the 150th birthday of Arthur Rackham, the National Trust Bateman’s House, the former home of Rudyard Kipling, is hosting an exhibition of his works, particularly focusing on his illustrations of Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill and other work in Sussex. These will be accompanied by modern art and music responses inspired by his legacy, as well as art workshops and competitions, and public talks. The wonderful illustrator of many children’s books, including Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, Wind in the Willows, and Rudyard Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill, Arthur Rackham is widely considered a leader of the Golden Age of Illustration.

Saving Shakespeare’s Birthplace: The 170th Anniversary
16 September
This temporary exhibition celebrates the 170th anniversary of when the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust was formed. It shows how Charles Dickens spearheaded the campaign to save Shakespeare's Birthplace for the nation, supported by theatrical re-enactment of the purchase of the Birthplace. 

New Harry Potter exhibition at the British Library
20 October 2017 – 28 February 2018
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first book in the Potter series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the British Library will host a new exhibition dedicated to the magic of Harry Potter. The exhibition will be the first of its kind to celebrate a single series of books by a living author. Exhibits will include previously unseen materials from author JK Rowling and the book’s publisher Bloomsbury, as well as magical treasures from the British Library’s own collection of wizarding books.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring A Classic, London
16 December 2017 – 8 April 2018
The unique exhibition will explore the success of Winnie-the-Pooh and the relationships that created him, including Christopher Robin’s make-believe with his toys and the collaboration between Milne as author and Shepard as illustrator. Designed for both children and adults, the exhibition will draw on the V&A’s collection of pencil sketches, proofs, letters and photographs, and many key loans. In addition, the original manuscript of Winnie-the-Pooh from the Wren Library at Trinity College will be on display for the first time at the V&A.

Inspired by the Word, various galleries
Date TBC
A fascinating exhibition by contemporary artists celebrating the literature of Hampshire writers – Jane Austen, Edward Thomas and Gilbert White. Winchester Cathedral, Gilbert White’s garden at The Wakes in Selborne, Petersfield Physic Garden and Museum (new galleries), Chawton House Library and the Red House Museum garden, Christchurch, will showcase sculpture, letter carving and works in other media. 2017 marks the bicentenary of the death of Jane Austen in Winchester and the centenary of the death of Edward Thomas at Arras.

Memorial to J. R. R. Tolkien, Pembroke College, Oxford
Date TBC
Prominent metal sculptor, public artist, and great nephew of J. R. R. Tolkien, Tim Tolkien is preparing to complete his next piece - a memorial to his great uncle to be sited under the window of his old college rooms at Pembroke College, Oxford. The project has finally come to fruition after much time spent fundraising and gaining English heritage permission as the exterior walls of the old quadrangle are grade 2 listed. The memorial is expected to be unveiled this academic year, coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit.



Celebrating 20 years of World Book Day, across England
2 March  
World Book Day, the annual celebration of books and reading for children and young people, has planned an all-star line-up of authors and illustrators to help it celebrate its 20th anniversary. David Walliams, Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Julia Donaldson are among the 'national treasures' who have written new stories to mark the occasion. These authors will each contribute an official World Book Day £1 book, which children can get for free in exchange for the £1 book token available to all schoolchildren in the UK. And for the first time, 22 National Trust properties around the country will be taking part in World Book Day with a weekend of children’s book activities ranging from the story of the Gingerbread man at Ightham Mote to the history of books at Belton and stepping back into the 1960s at Sudbury’s Museum of Childhood.
www.worldbookday.com; www.nationaltrust.org.uk/worldbookday

Knole Children’s Book Festival Weekend, Kent
25 – 26 March
Launching the very first Knole Children’s Book Festival in 2017, book your tickets for a smashing smorgasbord of children’s authors, characters and illustrators including the bestselling Lauren Child with Charlie and Lola, Cressida Cowell and her How to Tame your Dragon series, Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell and Alex T Smith’s Claude. Don’t miss out on a jam-packed day of storytelling, dressing up and colourful craft.

Plymouth Festival of Words, Plymouth
Building on the success of the city’s Plymouth International Book Festival, the new and improved Plymouth Festival of Words will launch in May 2017 celebrating literature and ‘words’ through a diverse range of art forms. Four days of events will showcase an eclectic blend of nationally and internationally renowned writers alongside a rich community programme involving literary groups from across the city and region. It will also incorporate the annual Gathering held by the National Storytellers Association, as well as workshops, performances and musical events. In addition to opening Plymouth History Month, Plymouth Festival of Words will bring three highly-celebrated headline acts (to be announced shortly), a rich community programme, and also includes for the first time the National Storytelling Gathering.

Walking in the Footsteps of Tennyson, Lincolnshire
May and October
This year will see a series of special events marking the 125th anniversary of the death of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, including ‘Walking in the Footsteps of Tennyson’ routes taking place during both the Wolds Walking Festival in May and Wolds Words Festival in October. Also in Lincolnshire, though it is now a private house, there are plans for events at Somersby House, which was previously The Rectory, Tennyson’s birthplace and home for 28 years.
www.woldswalkingfestival.co.uk; www.visitlincolnshire.com/content/literary-lincolnshire; www.tennysonsbirthplace.co.uk/somersby 

‘The Famous Five’ go on a Garden Adventure, RHS Gardens – Surrey, Devon, Essex and Harrogate
22 July – 3 September
Cue lashings of ginger beer, as Enid Blyton Entertainment and Hodder Children’s Books team up with the RHS to hold a series of events to celebrate 75 years of The Famous Five, Enid Blyton’s best-loved and phenomenally successful book series, publishing in May 2017 with newly illustrated covers. The ‘Famous Five go on a Garden Adventure’ anniversary activity will feature across all four RHS gardens (Surrey’s Wisley, Devon’s Rosemoor Garden, Essex’s Hyde Hall and Harrogate’s Harlow Carr), bringing to life the much-loved values of The Famous Five: friendship, heroism, adventure, outdoors and daring. Each garden will offer family activities inspired by The Famous Five, including themed adventure trails and garden displays, craft workshops and storytelling.  All four gardens will also be holding a picnic party on 11th August 2017, Enid Blyton’s 120th birthday.



200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, Hampshire and Bath
Throughout 2017
2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of one of England’s most acclaimed authors with ‘Jane Austen 200 – A Life in Hampshire’, a year-long programme of events, activities, performances, book launches and projects across the county. Highlights include: an extra-special Regency Week with events including music, dance, talks, a Regency Day and more (17-25 June; www.janeaustenregencyweek.co.uk); special talks, activities, exhibitions and celebrations at Jane Austen’s House Museum (March – December; www.jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk); and tours of Winchester Cathedral, where Austen is buried, including readings at her graveside (www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk). In Basingstoke, Sitting with Jane, a series of Austen-inspired ‘Book Benches’ each uniquely designed and painted by a professional artist with their personal interpretation of a Jane Austen-theme, will be accompanied by a dedicated web site, a free app and a trail guide (www.sittingwithjane.com). For those keen on a taste of Regency England, Jane Austen Big Picnics across Hampshire will offer the opportunity to see some performances, try some Regency food and learn more about the author. Jane Austen 200 exhibitions in Winchester, Gosport and Basingstoke will focus on her belongings, her family and her relationship to Hampshire. The anniversary will no doubt also spark a resurgence in interest in key Jane Austen sites across the country. Highlights include the Jane Austen Centre in Bath (a second home to Jane and the backdrop to two of her novels; www.janeausten.co.uk). Let’s hope there are also plans for a rerun of the famous Mr Darcy lake scene at Lyme Park to mark the occasion. (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/jane-austen-film-and-tv).
www.visit-hampshire.co.uk/janeausten ; www.janeausten200.co.uk; www.visitbath.co.uk

150th anniversary of Arnold Bennett’s birth, Stoke-on-Trent
Throughout 2017
Events and exhibitions are being staged throughout the year to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Enoch Arnold Bennett, a prolific writer with a remarkable legacy and close ties to The Potteries. Born 27 May 1867, Bennett was a writer, journalist, raconteur and wit, and the Head of War Propaganda during World War I. He also gave his name to Omelette Arnold Bennett; created at the Savoy Hotel especially for Bennett. Born in Hanley and mourned nation-wide when he died, Bennett lived in France and London, but never lost sight of his native Potteries. Follow the self-guided Arnold Bennett’s Bursley Trail to see local scenes connected with his works, and find the section devoted to him in the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. In early 2017, the gallery will host a three-month Arnold Bennett Exhibition which will draw on many of the artefacts, watercolours and other Bennett materials held in the Museum, many of which have not been on public display before. Other anniversary events include a talk about ‘Bennett and the Vic: The Victoria Theatre’s Stage Adaptations of Bennett’s Five Towns Novels (25 February); a new production of Jock-on-the-Go at Stoke Repertory Theatre (2-4 May); a new dramatic adaptation of a Bennett novel by Theresa Heskins at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme (26 May); The Arnold Bennett Annual Dinner and the Arnold Bennett Anniversary Weekend at the Jubilee Hall in Stoke (26-28 May); and The Annual Bennett Conference in Keele Hall (1 & 2 September).
bit.ly/2arnQTZ ; www.stokemuseums.org.uk/visit/pmag

The 350th anniversary of Paradise Lost, Buckinghamshire
Throughout 2017
This influential poem by the 17th-century English poet John Milton has inspired many great writers and artists, from Blake to the Bronte Sisters, Mary Shelley to Salvador Dali, James Joyce to George Lucas. Published in 1667 and hailed by the poet John Dryden, as “one of the most sublime poems this age or nation has produced,” the first version consisted of ten books with over ten thousand lines of verse. Milton's Cottage in south east Buckinghamshire is the only surviving residence of John Milton and the place where he completed this epic masterpiece. It was also in this 16th century cottage that he was inspired to write its sequel, Paradise Regained. Today, Milton’s Cottage is open to the public as a museum. The three museum rooms contain rare books, paintings and prints that give a unique insight into Milton’s life, work and influence.
www.miltonscottage.org; www.visitbuckinghamshire.org

100th anniversary of the birth of Anthony Burgess, Manchester
One of Manchester’s greatest cultural figures, Anthony Burgess was a novelist, port, playwright, composer, linguist, translator and critic. The author of 33 novels, 25 works of non-fiction, hundreds of musical works, two volumes of autobiography and vast quantities of journalism, Anthony Burgess is best known for his influential and challenging: A Clockwork Orange. The International Anthony Burgess Foundation is planning a year-long programme of publications, research projects, public events and activities of all kinds in Manchester and elsewhere to mark the centenary.
www.visitmanchester.com; www.anthonyburgess.org/burgess-100/

80th anniversary of the publication of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit
Published in 1937 as the prelude to The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit was one of the most influential books of the twentieth century. 2017 marks 80 years since this beloved book was published and what better place to celebrate than Birmingham, a place of pilgrimage to the many Tolkien fans. In 1896 Tolkien’s family moved back to Birmingham and it is widely believed that some areas provided inspiration for settings in his work, the village of Sarehole in particular is said to be the inspiration for Hobbiton and the Shire. In 1968, Tolkien wrote “Sarehole Mill dominated my childhood”, and it is not hard to see the influences of the mill in the character of Sandyman, the miller of Hobbiton. Tolkien spent his later years in Oxford, where he wrote The Hobbit in 1936. Bordered by the Thames, the surrounding areas are reminiscent of The Shire, and it is not hard to find inspiration for the pastoral life that Tolkien creates in his narrative.

110 years since the birth of W.H. Auden
The poet, author and playwright best known as a leading literary figure in the 20th century for his poetry was born in 1907, making 2017 110 years since his birth. Auden was born in York but grew up on Homer Road in Solihull, Birmingham.  Admired for his unsurpassed technical virtuosity and an ability to write poems in nearly every imaginable verse form, Auden incorporated popular culture, current events, and vernacular speech in his work.
www.visityork.org; www.visitbirmingham.com

45th anniversary of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small, North Yorkshire
The year 2017 is the 45th anniversary for the James Herriot’s classic All Creatures Great and Small (published 1972). The World of James Herriot in Thirsk, a museum devoted to the author in his former home will be marking the occasion around the anniversary. Other Herriot landmarks include Sutton Bank in the North York Moors National Park where the author proclaimed the view to be ‘the finest in England’.
www.worldofjamesherriot.com; www.yorkshire.com

100 years since creation of Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est and Anthem for Doomed Youth, Shropshire 
Born in Oswestry and brought up in Shrewsbury, Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) is widely recognised as one of the greatest voices of the First World War. He wrote what are possibly his two most famous poems Anthem for Doomed Youth and Dulce et Decorum Est in October 1917. To celebrate the anniversary and the life and works of Owen, Friends of St Chads are organising a day of music, poetry and historical lectures in his home town of Shrewsbury (28 January). The Wilfred Owen Association will be organising other events later in the year.
www.stchadschurchshrewsbury.com; www.wilfredowen.org.uk

100 years since publication of Mary Webb’s Gone to Earth and The Joy of Spring, Shropshire
The Mary Webb Society will be celebrating the centenary of publication of Gone to Earth and The Joy of Spring, as well as the 90th anniversary of Shropshire poet and novelist Mary Webb's death with a season of events. The programme so far includes a birthday lunch, a summer walk and meetings.

35 years since the death of Malcolm Saville, Shropshire
The English author Leonard Malcolm Saville (1901–1982) is best known for the Lone Pine series of children's books, many of which are set in Shropshire. His work emphasises location; the books include many vivid descriptions of English countryside, villages and sometimes towns. Malcolm Saville Society will be organising ‘February Ramblings’ in South West Shropshire (10-12 February), offering members the opportunity to visit places associated with the Lone Pine books and more.
www.witchend.com; www.shropshiretourism.co.uk

100th anniversary of Edward Thomas’s death, Hampshire
March – September
A programme of events will mark the 100th anniversary of the death of the wartime poet Edward Thomas, who died 9 April 1917. Thomas lived in Steep, Hampshire in the pre-WWI years (there’s even an Edward Thomas Circular Walk in the area). Anniversary highlights will include: a special memorial concert as part of the Petersfield Musical Festival (17 March); exhibitions of Thomas-inspired works at Petersfield Museum and the Petersfield Physic Garden, part of a multi-site exhibition of works inspired by writers entitled Inspired by the Word (4 April – 30 September); an Edward Thomas literary-historical display at Petersfield Museum (April – June); and an exhibition of photographs by and of Edward Thomas at Petersfield Museum (May – June).
www.petersfieldmusicalfestival.org.uk; www.petersfieldmuseum.co.uk; www.petersfieldphysicgarden.org.uk

75th anniversary of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five, Dorset
From May
Cue lashings of ginger beer, as Enid Blyton Entertainment and Hodder Children’s Books team up with the RHS to hold a series of events to celebrate 75 years of The Famous Five, Enid Blyton’s best-loved and phenomenally successful book series, publishing in May 2017 with newly illustrated covers. The ‘Five go on a Garden Adventure’ anniversary activity will feature across all four RHS gardens throughout 2017, offering family activities inspired by The Famous Five, including themed adventure trails and garden displays, craft workshops and storytelling.  All four gardens will also be holding a picnic party on 11th August 2017, Enid Blyton’s 120th birthday. The series brought rural Southern England and the coastline to life through the wild, outdoor adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne, George and their dog Timmy. Enid Blyton was a regular visitor to Dorset’s Jurassic Coast and the area inspired locations in many of the books including Corfe Castle (Kirrin Castle) and Brownsea Island (Whispering Island).

120th anniversary of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, Whitby, Yorkshire
The year 2017 will mark 120 years since Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula was first published. Stoker found some of his inspiration for 'Dracula' after staying in Whitby in 1890, adapting tales of sightings of the mythical Black Dog or Barghest and the story of the ship ‘Dmitry’ which had grounded at Tate Hill beach at Whitby, for inclusion in the novel. Visitors can see the sights that inspired Stoker including the 199 Steps leading up from Tate Hill to St Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey.

20th anniversary of the Harry Potter book series
Since the release of the first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, on 30 June 1997, the books have gained immense popularity, critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide inspiring the highly popular film series. To celebrate, the British Library will host a new exhibition dedicated to the magic of Harry Potter (20 October 2017 – 28 February 2018). The exhibition will be the first of its kind to celebrate a single series of books by a living author. Exhibits will include previously unseen materials from author JK Rowling and the book’s publisher Bloomsbury, as well as magical treasures from the British Library’s own collection of wizarding books.
www.pottermore.com/explore-the-story/harry-potter; www.bl.uk

50th anniversary of Arthur Ransome‘s death
June 2017, with activities throughout the year 
Arthur Ransome, author of the much-loved Swallows and Amazons children’s book series, died 3 June 1967. Most his life was spent in the Lake District area, where Swallows and Amazons was set. In 1935 Ransome and his wife moved to Suffolk with the intention of enjoying some sea-sailing with his much-loved yacht the Nancy Blackett, said to have inspired the seventh book in the Swallows and Amazons series, We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea – coincidentally celebrating its 80th year since publication in 2017. Pay your respects to the man who launched a million childhood sailing dreams by booking a sailing experience or an overnight trip aboard the legendary yacht, which is moored on the Shotley Peninsula, Suffolk. In the Lakes, Stephen and Janine Sykes, the current owners of Hill Top, where Ransome spent his final years (visitors can stay in the 5-star Gold self-catering The Cottage at Hill Top), have commissioned a painting by popular Lakes artist Nick Leigh to mark the anniversary. The Sykes are also supporters of a marathon reading of Swallows and Amazons on the shore of Coniston (3 September); Charles Wordsworth (William Wordsworth’s great great great great grandson) and Andrea Gibb (the screenwriter behind 2016’s film adaptation of Swallows and Amazons) have signed up to read chapters. The reading will mark the end of a summer-long exhibition at the Ruskin Museum in Coniston about Ransome, Russia and storytelling. Watch this space for further details of events, including Suffolk’s Arthur Ransome Festival 2017.
www.nancyblackett.org ; www.hilltopvista.com ; lakesculture.co.uk ; www.ruskinmuseum.com

125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes publication
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was published in 1892; the book was the first collection of Holmes stories, which Conan Doyle had been publishing in magazines since 1887. Now a popular TV series, London is almost a character in itself in the Sherlock stories. Start with a visit to Sherlock and Watson’s famous address, 221B Baker Street. While it doesn’t actually exist, the exterior of their flat as seen in the series is shot in this quieter west London road, 25 minutes’ walk from Baker Street, at 187 North Gower Street. Other destinations sure to be of interest to Sherlock fans include, The Sherlock Holmes Museum, a Grade II-listed building devoted to the detective. It features a re-creation of his sitting room, and a gift shop. The Sherlock Homes Pub in Westminster is stuffed with memorabilia, including Dr Watson’s old service revolver and his favourite food, Cumberland sausages. Fans of the TV series can also explore filming locations in Bristol with a Sherlock Locations Map.
www.londonandpartners.com; www.visitbristol.co.uk

125th anniversary of the death of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Lincolnshire
6 October
Tennyson (1809-1892) was born and brought up in the Lincolnshire Wolds, and the gentle rolling landscape provided inspiration for some of his early work. 125 years after he died, visit the county and follow in the footsteps of one of our most famous poets on the Tennyson Trail. Visit Somersby, where he was born and spent his early years. Stroll through the countryside that inspired him. Linger in picturesque Tetford, where the 16th-century White Hart Inn served as the poet’s local, or discover Tennyson’s ‘haunt of ancient peace’ at Gunby Hall, near Spilsby. Tennyson spent his childhood holidays on the Lincolnshire coast, where the high dunes, beach and sea made Mablethorpe one of his favourite places. This year will see a new Tennyson Trail leaflet launching in May and several special walks and events, as well as Lincolnshire’s Tennyson Research Centre moving to a new home offering increased visitor access to a huge array of historic manuscripts, proofs, letters, photographs and personal belongings (see previous listings).

170th anniversary of Shakespeare's Birthplace, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire
2017 is the 170th anniversary of Shakespeare's Birthplace (as a protected site of interest), it was purchased at auction on 16 Sept 1847. William Shakespeare was born in this house and grew up here with his parents and siblings – walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps and discover how the extraordinary writer continues to shape our lives today. To mark the anniversary, Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust are putting together a temporary exhibition (Saving Shakespeare’s Birthplace: The 170th Anniversary, 16 September) to show how Charles Dickens spearheaded the campaign to save Shakespeare's Birthplace for the nation, supported by theatrical re-enactment of the purchase of the Birthplace. 

Films, Novels and Theatre

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
12 May
Directed by Guy Ritchie, and with a star cast including Jude Law, David Beckham, and Charlie Hunman in the title role, this hugely anticipated feature, due for release 12 May 2017, looks set to spark King Arthur fever across the country. The film retells the classic story of the legendary British king’s rise to power, from joining the rebellion and meeting young Guinevere to uniting the people of Britain to defeat dictator Vortigern, the man who murdered his parents and stole his crown. Legend has it that King Arthur’s Round Table, a Neolithic henge in Cumbria, was King Arthur’s jousting arena, and that Arthur was conceived at Tintagel Castle, a clifftop ruin in Cornwall. Somerset’s Cadbury Castle also has strong Arthurian associations as the site of Camelot, according to medieval sources, whilst Northumberland’s Alnwick Castle (more recently famous as Harry Potter’s Hogwarts), is according to medieval writings, the castle of Lancelot, King Arthur’s Knight.

The Mercy
Release date TBC
There’s a powerhouse of Hollywood celebrity behind The Mercy: Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz star, it was shot by James Marsh (director of The Theory of Everything) and penned by Bourne Ultimatum and Side Effects writer Scott Z Burns. The film tells the bleak, real-life tale of Donald Crowhurst who, in 1968, attempted to win the Sunday Times Golden Globe yacht race – a solo around-the-world yacht race – in his boat, the Teignmouth Electron, to promote his invention, a new kind of radio direction finder. The Mercy was filmed against the backdrop of Teignmouth, its harbour, beach and pier during a glorious spell of weather, and will put the area firmly on the must-visit list for 2017.  

On Chesil Beach
Release date TBC
Saoirse Ronan will star as Florence in this adaptation of Booker prize-winning author Ian McEwan’s heartbreaking novel, On Chesil Beach. Ronan was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the 2007 adaptation of McEwan’s Atonement, so expect big things. Chesil Beach, which obviously plays a big part in the story, is an 18-mile-long bank of pebbles on the Dorset coast and part of the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Goodbye Christopher Robin
Late 2017/early 2018 
Fox Searchlight is making a biopic of much-loved Winnie-the-Pooh author AA Milne and his son, Christopher Robin, whose cuddly toys were the inspiration behind the books’ endearing characters. The film stars Domhnall Gleeson as AA Milne and Margot Robbie as his wife, Daphne, and was shot on location in England. Ashdown Forest, which is still recognisable from the original book illustrations, is sure to make an appearance. The release date is unconfirmed, and the title may yet change, but the film is already being tipped as an awards contender. Pooh fans will also want to check out the V&A’s upcoming exhibition, Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring A Classic (16 December 2017 – 8 April 2018).
www.ashdownforest.org; www.vam.ac.uk

Location tags

Topic tags