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Archive for the 'Literary Destinations' Category

November 10th, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Take the kids to a castle in Wales and experience some real historical fiction

Ronald Welch (1909-1982) was the pen name of Ronald Oliver Felton  who is best known for a children’s historical fiction series featuring the Carey Family. Born in Aberavon, West Glamorgan, Wales he was for many years headmaster of Okehampton Grammar School in Devon.  

The Gauntlet is a time travel story set in 1951  and  1326, mainly in Carreg Cennen Castle, Wales.

The story has Peter Staunton and his friend Gwyn Evans finding a rusted iron gauntlet while on holiday in the Brecon Beacons. When Peter puts the gauntlet on he hears the thud of hooves, and, after falling asleep on the grounds of Carreg Cennen Castle, finds himself back in medieval times. Here he attends banquets, watches jousts, and fights in a siege of the castle by the Welsh during the battle he’s hit unconscious.  He buries his misericorde in a herb garden and when he wakes up back in his own time he has to convince his friends that what he experienced was real. He eventually finds a rusty old dagger but it’s unclear if this is the one he buried.


October 10th, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Literary Tourist Audio: Charlie Foran on Alice Munro and Wingham, Ontario

Alice Munro has just won the Nobel Prize for Literature. In honour of this, we re-run this interview: 

Several years ago, well known Canadian author/biographer Charlie Foran, playing the Literary Tourist, travelled to Wingham, Ontario and environs to spend a little time in Alice Munro country. We talked to him recently about his experience. Please listen here

September 15th, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Literary Cafes of Europe

Cafe Central, Vienna (Wiki)

In The Grand Literary Cafes of Europe (New Holland) Noel Riley Fitch celebrates the architecture, history, decor, charm and popularity of some of the world’s greatest creativity incubators. Since the 16th century…

“the caffe, Kaffeehaus, kawiarnia, or coffeehouse – has been central to urban cultural and artistic life. In Europe and elsewhere, it is a place to start and end the day, to read, compose, gossip, debate or mull over the intricacies of a chess move. This beautifully illustrated book takes the reader on a tour of the great literary cafes of Europe, encompassing cities as diverse as London, Lisbon, Budapest, Rome and Prague. Focusing on the famous writers and artists who frequented these historic places, this book examines the role of the cafe in culture and society”

Cafés profiled include:

AUSTRIA, Vienna: Cafés Landtmann, Griensteidl, Central;  Salzburg: Cafés Tomaselli, Bazar

CZECH REPUBLICPrague: Cafés Slavia, Montmartre, Evropa

DENMARK, Copenhagen: Café à Porta

FRANCE, Paris: Café des Deux Magots. La Closerie des Lilas, La Coupole, Café du Dôme, de Flore, Le Fouquet’s, Brasserie Lipp, Café de la Paix, Le Procope, Café Sélect

GERMANYMunich: Café Luitpold, Berlin: Café Wintergarten in Literaturhaus, Café Einstein; Liepzig: Künstlercafé in the Kaffeebaum

GREAT BRITAIN, London: Café Royal, Kettner’s

HUNGARY, BudapestCafé Gerbeaud, Central Kávéház, Café New York

ITALYFlorence: Giubbe Rosse, Padova: Caffè Pedrocchi; Rome: Caffè Greco; Venice: Caffè Florian, Gran Caffè Quadri

NORWAY, Oslo: Grand Café

PORTUGAL, Lisbon: Café A Brasileira

ROMANIA, Bucharest: Café Capsa

RUSSIA, St. Petersberg: Literary Café , Stray Dog; Moscow: Central House of Writers

SPAINBarcelona: Café Els Quatre Gats, Café de l’Opera, Madrid: Café Comercial , Café Gijón, Café de Oriente

SWITZERLAND, Zurich: Café Odeon

THE NETHERLANDS, Amsterdam: Café Américan

July 29th, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Visiting Letterpress Print Shops throughout the Eastern United States

The latest issue of the Devil’s Artisan will be of great interest to those who love books and travel. In other words…you. It features a lengthy and entertaining travelogue entitled ‘The Arcane Adventures of a Tramp Printer Abroad, Being a True Account of a Canadian Typographer’s Visit to Sundry American Letterpress Print Shops’, by Andrew Steeves, co-owner of Gaspereau Press and one of Canada’s most accomplished book designers and printers. It traces an 8800 Km trip he took in his truck from Kentville, Nova Scotia out to Iowa and back last Fall via Missouri, Alabama, Tennessee, New York, New Hampshire and Maine, among other other places, and gives a good taste of what the lives and locales of the letterpress printers he meets along the way are like. 

Despite the fact that he makes a point of separating himself from those of us who merely possess a “curiosity and ‘gosh-golly-wow!’ fascination with the idealized notion of the working Linotype machine, with its whirring mechanisms and its mysterious alchemy,” – forgetting perhaps that it we who are the mostly likely to purchase what is printed by these wonderful machines -  his journey is one that most Literary Tourists would, I’m sure, love to replicate.

From Larry Raid’s Linotype University in Denmark, Iowa to Hannibal, Missouri (to honour both Mark Twain, and Jim Rimmer “who loved Twain’s writing so much he named one of his metal typefaces Hannibal”), Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.’s print shop in Gordo, Alabama to Hatch Show Print in Nashville, Larkspur Press in Kentucky and Bixler Press and Letterfoundry in upstate New York, Steeves takes us on quite the trip. The writing is refreshingly honest and direct – and great fun to read. If you’re not inspired to try something similar after finishing it, perhaps literary isn’t the kind of tourism you should be practicing. 


July 23rd, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Literary Tourists and Letterpress fanatics – Head to Kentville, Nova Scotia this October

The Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose will take place this year on Saturday October 26th in Kentville, Nova Scotia with activities throughout the day. Guests printers will include Jason Dewinetz, printer, Greenboathouse Press (Vernon, BC), George Walker, printer, Biting Dog Press (Toronto, ON) and  Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr., printerKennedy Prints (last know address, Gordo, Alabama).

These letterpress printing giants will put ink to paper and chew the cud with attendees all day long. There’ll also be readings by heralded writers, among them Nova Scotia’s Sue Goyette and Dana Mills. A writers’ salon is planned for the morning, printing demos will take place in the shop all day, and more readings and The Douglas Lochhead Memorial Lecture (delivered by Dewinetz) are scheduled for the evening.

In addition, the hope is to officially launch Rod McDonald’s new typeface, ‘Goluska’, at the wayzgoose. Goluska is named in tribute to the late Canadian typographer Glenn Goluska whose letterpress collection was acquired by Gaspereau Press in 2012.

July 23rd, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Literary Tourist hits The Berkshires

ALBANY, NY: The day started on a downer, with another

old bookstore biting the dust. Appeared as if a cyclone

had hit it. Books strewn all over the place. Upstairs, porn magazines,

looking strangely anachronistic, littered the floor. Sad and tawdry. Some lawyers from New York City have bought the building. It’ll be gutted, cleaned and turned into nice proper corporate office space, to complement this


roost. Albany has some pretty cool architecture going for it, despite, or more accurately because of, having seen better days. We drove East toward Springfield. First stop was

Berkshire Books in Chatham. Very nice well organized little shop. Clean, filled with mylar-jacketed books. The owner clearly has a good eye for interesting titles. Turns out he was in the publishing business with Rizzoli for many years prior to setting up this shop.

A short drive North and we hit

Librarium Used Books, attached to a home set in the middle of a large lawn a bit off the highway. Found Saguenay here, a book with an attractive  Thoreau MacDonald-designed jacket and end papers.

This area is known as the Berkshires. There are three writers houses close by: Herman Melville’s Arrowhead on the road up from Lenox toward Pittsfield. Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Steepletop estate , located near Austerlitz as is The Millay Colony for the Arts

founded in 1973 by Edna’s sister (In the office we saw a collection of Edna’s poetry books,

including her first, Renaissance published by Mitchell Kennerley (listen to my interview on Kennerley with Dan Boice here), and back down in Lenox you’ll find The Mount, Edith Wharton’s magnificent summer house surrounded by gardens that she designed herself. Shakespeare & Co.

used to put on plays here until they moved into their own facility – more



campus actually – just down the road. The evening highlight wasn’t the play (Love’s Labour’s Lost – women were good, men could have been more subtle – overly slapstick, too much mugging) that the company put on, but rather a great conversation with one of its lead actors (and Communications Director) Elizabeth Aspenlieder and Tony Simotes, the company’s artistic director. Stay tuned for the audio. In the playhouse lobby there was a display of old and rare editions of Shakespeare’s plays on sale

courtesy of a local antiquarian dealer. Most impressive piece of partnering.

What with the bookshops, the authors’ houses and Shakespeare, there’s much packed in to this artful patch of the world; enough in fact to keep the literary tourist engaged and happy for days on end.

For details on all the bookstores and various literary destinations found in the Berkshires, click here to go to the Literary Tourist Route Planner. Enter Albany, NY and Springfield, MA, et voila.

July 13th, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

John Donne’s House

This is a house where poet John Donne lived and wrote some of his works; it is adjacent to the Wey Navigation canal near Ripley, Surrey

July 13th, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Video: Literary Tourist tracks Nabokov in Montreux, St. Petersburg, Ithaca

July 11th, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Guest Post: The Goon’s guide to Spike Milligan’s favourite places

Spike Milligan was a true citizen of the world. Born in India, raised in England he always considered Ireland home and became a citizen in 1962. Take a tour of Spike’s world in our Goon’s guide to Spike’s favourite places…

If you are a fan of the inimitable Spike Milligan you’ve probably been walking backwards for Christmas and practising your Little Jim impression for longer than you can remember. For the uninitiated: “He’s fallen in the water!”. But how much do you know about the great man’s life? Reading Spike’s war memoirs are a good place to start. ‘Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall’ covers the time period from just before the war until 1942 when he lands in Algeria.

But did you know our Spike was actually born in India in a place called Ahmadnagar?

A childhood in India

“In the land of the Bumbley Boo
You never see a Gnu,
But thousands of cats
Wearing trousers and hats
Made of Pumpkins and Pelican Glue!”

Terence Alan Patrick Sean ‘Spike’ Milligan (to give him his Sunday moniker) was born in Ahmadnagar on April 16th 1918. His dad, an Irishman from Sligo, was serving his time in the British Indian Army at the time. About his father Spike famously deadpanned, “My father had a profound influence on me. He was a lunatic.” And when asked why he was born in India Spike quipped, “I wanted to be close to my mother.” He spent a good deal of his early years in Poona and then Rangoon in Burma. He was educated in famously strict Catholic schools and this along with his time in the British Army could be why he became so firmly anti-establishment.

Taking on the establishment

This anti-establishment attitude got Spike into trouble when his British passport ran out and the British government refused to renew it. As he was born in India to an Irish father they didn’t consider him British. He was told to apply for British citizenship but when Spike heard that he’d have to swear an oath to the Queen he refused point blank. Prince Charles, a Goons super-fan, wrote a heartfelt plea to Spike saying, “Come on, you know, I had to swear allegiance to the Queen and it’s not that painful for God’s sake” Spike wrote back, “Well, it’s okay for you, she’s your mum”. So despite living in Rye, East Sussex (in a house he dubbed “The Blind Architect” such was his dislike of the £360,000 home he shared with his third wife Shelagh) he looked back to his father’s roots for a country that would accept him without grovelling.

Spike’s own country

“I’m walking backwards for Christmas,
Across the Irish Sea.
I’m walking backwards for Christmas,
It’s the finest thing for me.”

Unsurprisingly Spike was pretty bitter about having to apply for British citizenship after serving for six years in the British Army. Luckily when he spoke to the then Irish Ambassador, Aamon Kelly, he said, “Oh, you’re that bloke on the telly. Of course you can become an Irish citizen. We’re terribly short of people”. Spike’s brother Desmond remembers a passport and a bottle of whisky showing up shortly after. Spike visited Ireland many times over the years although he never made it to Sligo where his grandfather was born on Holborn Street. Despite this Goon fans who want to go someplace to feel connected to their comedy hero should head to Sligo – as Spike said, “it’s great to be in my own country”.

What are your favourite memories of Spike Milligan?

July 8th, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Literary Shropshire – Video