On our trip to London and Spain we saw a lot of cool things, especially in the areas of art, architecture, history, and wine. But here’s the bookish side of our travels:
Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, is clearly Spain’s favorite literary son; I lost count of the times I saw a sculpture or plaque commemorating him. In Madrid, we even ate tapas in Cerveceria Cervantes on Cervantes street. My favorite tribute was a sculpture not of him but of Quixote and Sancho Panza.
We also saw this statue of Washington Irving, who is American but apparently stayed in the Alhambra (in Granada) while writing Tales of the Alhambra.
One of my favorite things was this sculpture of the “Reading Girl” honoring Clara Campoamor, a Spanish politician known for her advocacy for women’s rights and suffrage during the writing of the Spanish constitution of 1931. The memorial is “for her unequaled contribution to the freedom of women.” Campoamor was elected to Parliament in 1931, and she fought for women’s rights until she left in exile during the Spanish Civil War. The sculpture was erected in Seville in 2007.
In London we visited our friends in Wimbledon, where they showed us their local library. Along the side of its brick wall it had this really cool book “sculpture”.
In London, we visited Bletchley Park, where we learned a lot about Alan Turing, the “Wrens” and the others who helped decode critical information in World War II. I was struck by this display of literary classics won as academic prizes by Alan Turing. On the plaque it has a quote from Sara Turing, his mother:
When it came to reading he was not very responsive to teaching. However, finding a copy of “Reading Without Tears” he discovered the principle (as he said later) and taught himself to read in about three weeks. It was characteristic of his lifelong habit of achieving things in his own way and working from first principles.
Finally, we stopped by Heywood Hill Books in the Mayfair neighborhood, which is a fantastic bookstore that has a book subscription service (you tell them what you like, they pick out books for you). While there I met the lovely Eleanor from Elle Thinks, one of my favorite blogs. I wish I had longer to spend there! I could have picked out a ton of books, but they would have had to travel in my suitcase to four other cities. So I limited myself to this one, a Harry Potter paperback with the British cover. I’m a fan of Mary GrandPre, who illustrated the American copies, but I liked this one as well, and it’s a nice addition to the collection (plus I’d rather read a paperback than a gigantic hardback).
That’s a few highlights from our trip! I should mention that we had hoped to tour the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio while in London but didn’t get tickets in time. So we’re saving that until next time. Cheers and Salud!
Yay! It was so lovely to meet you at last – glad you had such a great trip.
It was great to meet you too! Thanks for putting up with me and my friends for a bit – wish we’d had more time to talk!
My pleasure! Your friends were lovely too. Let me know next time you’re in town.
Heywood Hill Books is one of my favorites as I’ve visited it a number of times over the years! Sounds like you had a great trip.
I am learning Spanish just to read Cervantes. ☺️
I absolutely loved your photos of the sculptures, which is one of my favorite art forms anyway and street art is always a favorite. Visiting Bletchley Park would be amazing.
Great literary travelogue!
What a neat themed trip!