A literary trail on classics in my hometown.
Hello and welcome to my first post here on Lost in Classics. You can learn more about me in the About section but basically we are here thanks to a fantastic online course I took part in in July that helped me to uncover my favourite parts of my work. I love classics and everything related and I believe that reading is the best way to see a language in a natural context and go deeper into the history and culture behind it. So I thought that a place to encourage us to read, share and enjoy would be a great idea and I am really happy to share this new experience with you. This will be the first of many posts related to classics. I hope you will join the club and join in the discussion! If there is anything in particular you would like to learn more about, please ask in the comments.
Just after the course I left on holiday for my hometown in the south east of England, in the county of Kent, Royal Tunbridge Wells. The historical centre of the town is the Pantiles and the Chalybeate (iron-rich) spring from which the town literally “sprung”.
It became a popular spa destination in the 17th century when visitors came to drink the water as it was thought to cure a number of maladies including colic. They would then promenade up and down the Walks to see and be seen. Tunbridge Wells was even frequented by royalty and in 1909 King Edward VII recognized this by giving the town with the “Royal” prefix an honour that only two other towns in the UK have.
Naturally due to its long history Tunbridge Wells has many literary connections. The novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair and E M Forster (Room with a View, A Passage to India) both lived in Tunbridge Wells.
Tunbridge Wells’ position as a tourist destination is confirmed in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, which features a mug with “A present from Tunbridge Wells” on it.
In The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, Algernon confronts Jack Worthing regarding an inscription in his cigarette box and Jack identifies Cecily as his aunt who lives in Tunbridge Wells. Perhaps he does this due to Tunbridge Well’s inhabitants’ reputation of being traditional conservative.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle lived and died in Crowborough, another small town 7 miles from Tunbridge Wells. In 2001 his statue was unveiled in the town centre.
The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle, includes many references to Tunbridge Wells. In fact the victim’s residence, Birlstone Manor House, is based on Groombridge Place in Groombridge a village just four miles from Tunbridge Wells. The house featured as the home of the Bennet family, Longbourn Manor, in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
I love this place! You can even get married here you know!
What are the literary connections to your town? Why not leave a comment below. Thanks and see you soon!
Every month, I publish a review of the book I ahve read that month.