Little compares to the historical wisdom held by the world’s largest library, standing proudly on Euston Road. The Treasures of the British Library gallery is worth a peek and, if you have some extra time on your hands, have a browse through its wider collections. From the manuscript of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and the original Beowulf to Shakespeare’s First Folio, there are almost 14 million books to admire. Aside from a cuppa, what more could a bibliophile want?
The love story between Frankenstein author Mary Shelley and poet Percy Bysshe Shelley flourished during their secret meetings by the memorial of Mary’s mother, writer and women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft. Deeper into the grounds of one of England’s oldest places of worship, you’ll find an ancient ash tree surrounded by hundreds of overlapping gravestones, which was moved here by novelist Thomas Hardy, when rail works threaten to destroy it. ‘The Hardy Tree’ has featured in both its saviour’s writing and that of others.
‘I have conversed with the spiritual Sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill,’ wrote Romantic poet William Blake. And no wonder he found his slice of heaven on the peak of Primrose Hill — the view of London’s skyline beyond the greenery is breathtaking. Soak in the views and set up a picnic (British weather permitting) under Shakespeare’s Tree, an oak planted to mark the 300th anniversary of the playwright’s birth.