Written by root. Posted in FEATURES


Published on March 10, 2017 with No Comments

From Harry Potter to The Famous Five and Sherlock Holmes, England has a rich literary heritage that is recognised and loved all over the world.



England has declared 2017 to be the “Year of Literary Heroes”, in recognition of the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death and 20 years since the first Harry Potter book, to name just two milestone events. The Year of Literary Heroes will celebrate some of the publishing phenomena that have helped put England on the map. This year more than ever, literary fans have the opportunity to explore Britain’s rich bookish history.

From March 2017, England will celebrate the 200th anniversary of one of its most acclaimed authors, Jane Austen. With the “Jane Austen 200 – A Life in Hampshire” events planned across her home county, fans can look forward to visiting Jane Austen’s House Museum (her former home) in the village of Chawton, where changing exhibitions, talks, activities and other special celebrations between March and December will take place. Chawton and nearby Alton will host a Regency Week (June 17 – 25) with special events including talks, a Regency Day and more.

A highlight of the celebrations will be Hampshire Cultural Trust’s The Mysterious Miss Austen exhibition, which will tour Winchester, Gosport and Basingstoke with special and unique Jane Austen pieces, including loans from the National Portrait Gallery, British Library and private collections. Jane’s final resting place, Winchester Cathedral, will also be running tours exploring Jane’s life. In Basingstoke, visitors will also be able to follow a downloadable sculpture trail made up of 25 ‘BookBenches’ each uniquely designed and painted by a professional artist with their personal interpretation of a Jane Austen theme.

And 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. 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 and the September Jane Austen Festival, which will celebrate the bicentenary of the novel Northanger Abbey in 2017. In Kent, visitors can follow in her footsteps on a Jane Austen Trail.

For a more recent literary experience, June 2017 will mark 20 years since the release of JK Rowling’s first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, inspiring a global phenomenon, which put many of England’s landmarks – from Northumberland’s Alnwick Castle (one of the many Hogwarts locations), to the Reptile House at ZSL London Zoo – on the map as Potter pilgrimage sites. Events already in the planning include a Harry Potter Film concert series (11–21 May) with live screenings of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone accompanied by a live orchestra performing John Williams’ unforgettable score. Locations include Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Glasgow, as well as London’s Royal Albert Hall. Later in the year, a new exhibition at the British Library, dedicated to the magic of Harry Potter (20 October, 2017 – 28 February, 2018) will be the first of its kind to celebrate a single series of books by a living author and 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.

Of course, no English literature can go by without mentioning the most beloved of children’s author of all times, Enid Blyton. 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, 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 11 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).

Fans of Sherlock Holmes will be interested to know that 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 recreation of his sitting room, and a gift shop. Fans of the TV series can also take on numerous pilgrimages to filming locations including Bristol’s Sherlock Locations map.

Of course, there are more milestones for many heroes of British literature to celebrate. Get the entire list from



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