Mapping literary Britain: tourist guides to literary landscapes 1951-2007

Deborah Philips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The literary pilgrimage is a form of tourism that seeks out the landscapes and environments that shaped an author and their works. It is the illustrated literary guidebook to Britain (and often Ireland) that defines which authors and places are worthy of pilgrimage, draws these locations together, and points the literary tourist towards them. ‘Literary Britain’ is an object of the tourist gaze that has been constructed not only by tourist professionals, but also by literary critics and by writers. This article analyses a range of guidebooks to the literary landscapes of Britain from Bill Brandt’s Literary Landscapes published in 1951 to the current edition of The Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide to Great Britain and Ireland. The article argues that the hierarchy of both sites and authors remains remarkably unchanged; Literary Britain is seen in these collections as a place that turns its back on modernity and change. The selection of sites and authors is framed by nostalgia for the 19th century and for a pre-industrial rural world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-35
Number of pages15
JournalTourist Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2011


  • Britain
  • guidebooks
  • heritage
  • literature
  • nostalgia
  • pilgrimage


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