A Graphic Literary Tourism Experience

In 2010 Nigel Beale established Literary Tourist with the intention of helping fellow book-lovers who like to travel, to find interesting literary places and events around the world. The true joy and serendipity of literary tourism can only really be conveyed through illustration. This is the story of how a simple aesthetic appreciation developed into a real-world literary adventure filled with pleasing coincidences. Ottawa is not a city one usually associates with entrepreneurs or the risky business of book publishing and yet, here, during the 1920s, a printer and monotype operator named Henry C. Miller established a commercial publishing house which, though short-lived, produced a body of work that is… Read More

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Literary Tourism in the Air

First appeared in Fine Books and Collections magazine. Literary tourism is nothing new. Socrates, who trekking out to Delphi a millennia or two ago looking for truth, could be called a literary tourist; the beardless young Greeks who went to book discussion circles to hear him denigrate the Gods could also be called literary tourists. As could those who attended gigs by Homer, or poets like him, who recited crazy stories of sirens and men being turned into pigs. More recently, in Victorian times especially, besotted fans would pilgrimage to favorite authors’ houses to soak up the vibe, introduce the imaginary to the real, or simply pluck a leaf from… Read More

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A Book Lover’s Maritime Road Trip

First appeared in Salt Magazine The week ahead was primed for indulging two passions: fast driving and book collecting. I made Moncton from the Saint John airport in about an hour. My sporty new Mazda3 GT purred with pleasure as it raced along smooth, traffic-free highways. I collect modern first editions, or more accurately, contemporary firsts. As British book collecting icon John Carter puts it in his ABC for Book Collectors, the term “modern” originates from the 1920s, and was first applied to books from the naughty ’90s. My preferred territory is the past 50 years, although I tend not to read much written after 1980, there being enough time-tested… Read More

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Spain’s Humanity

I love Spain. Especially, I love strolling along the broad and beautiful passeos of Madrid caressed by soft, cool breezes, surrounded by startlingly magnificent architecture, fueled by a belly full of tapas and tinto de verano. I don’t however love Spanish customer service practices, or at least the startlingly counter-productive protocol they operate under. I had left, as is my wont, something (a bathroom kit if you must know) behind on the United Airlines plane we’d flown in on from Newark. Returning to the airport several hours after landing to recoup it I found the airlines’ booth closed. The airport information desk informed me that United closed every day at… Read More

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Literary Houston

Christopher Hitchens died last December at Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. I re-read his Letters to a Young Contrarian on the flight down here. The next day I took the light rail train from our hotel in to town. It passed by the Center. Just seeing the place for those fleeting seconds was a very moving, emotional experience. The relationships we establish with writers can be pretty intense. Visiting places described in their works where births, childhoods, marriages and deaths – real or imagined – take place, helps us to ‘connect’ with our literary heroes. It’s hardly rational, but I know from experience that it can be very powerful. Christopher… Read More

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