The Book Lover’s Bucket List by Caroline Taggart – Review
By Sandra Callard
Here is a unique and fascinating compilation of some of the numerous and famous British writers, poets, playwrights and authors, and where we can find dedications to them, or the homes in which they were born, died, wrote, views they were inspired by, or just simply loved.
Naturally it covers London, where despite its familiarity I was amazed to discover the fascinating places which held great personal meanings to our famous and beloved literary giants, and which l had missed when they had been right under my nose. Little streets off busy town centres can hold a wealth of information about our literary icons and this book tells you where to find places such as the homes of Dylan Thomas, Beatrix Potter and Shakespeare for starters.
It must have been an unenviable task to decide which giants of literature from amongst the many superb ones that we have in this country, were worthy of inclusion in this book, but l do think author Caroline Taggart has made as fair and interesting a selection as is possible from the huge supply available. She also makes a superb job of including every area of the British Isles, even splitting English areas into Southwestern, Eastern and Central for instance, instead of the large areas of just North, South, East and West, which is a great help in localising anything of particular interest.
You can find the house where Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield. A walk around the lovely town of Stamford in Lincolnshire will show you where the BBC filmed George Eliot’s magnificent novel, Middlemarch, and if you go to All Hallows church, near the Tower of London, you can stand where Samuel Pepys stood as he watched the terrible Great Fire of London spread in 1666, and which he described in his magnificent diary, giving us a first hand knowledge of 17th century life and death.
The book delves into the various parts of the British Isles, starting with London and roving around the north, south, east and west of England as well as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Each area throws up some fascinating and, to me at least, unknown snippets of information regarding the vast array of literary talent that we possess.
The piece on The Cafe Royal where Oscar Wilde held court in his heyday is a beautiful descriptive piece of writing and makes me want to travel at once along the two hundred miles from Leeds to London to bask in the atmosphere of this famous establishment. Northern England itself has 14 contributions, with Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage, Bram Stoker’s Whitby and The Brontë Parsonage in Haworth just three of the easy to reach places in Yorkshire that will bring joy and pride to any Northerner.
The quaintly-named The Book Lover’s Bucket List is a triumph of simplicity in the way the author and compiler describes the ease of access to the many places of literary interest that you may never have known existed, and l think I shall be happily plotting my way to some of them soon.
‘The Book Lover’s Bucket List’ by Caroline Taggart is published by The British Library, £16.98 hardback