Real Life Places That Inspired Classic Novels

by Julia Seales
Focus Features

There are so many fictional worlds I wish I could visit: Hogwarts, Narnia, the Shire. These places would be at the top of my vacation destination list — if only they existed in real life. Authors have an amazing gift for imagining entire worlds, and then making them real just by putting words on a page. Hogwarts may not actually exist (though the Forbidden Forest is now open in Warner Bros London and looks amazing), but in a way it did, because we all traveled there just by reading the Harry Potter series. After all, previously nonexistent worlds have been brought to life by writers putting pen to paper — but sometimes, this also works the other way around.

Many authors were inspired to write stories because of places that they visited, or lived, or read about. While fiction can be inspirational, more often than not a spark of creativity can be found in the real world, too. Story ideas can come from all different sources, including actual locations that exist. In this case, you don’t have to worry about reading the book and then never falling down a rabbit hole or crawling through a wardrobe in order to visit. These geographical locations can be accessed through the real world — here are some real life places that inspired books.


Bleak House in Broadstairs, Kent ('Bleak House' by Charles Dickens)

Bleak House (formerly named Fort House) is the cliff house where Charles Dickens used to spend his summer vacations. Rumor has it the place inspired his novel Bleak House.

Click Here To Buy


Moseley Bog in Birmingham, England (The Lord of the Rings Series by JRR Tolkien)

Moseley Bog, the marsh behind Tolkien's childhood home, inspired many of his descriptions of Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings series.

Click Here To Buy


Cavendish on Prince Edward Island, Canada (Anne of Green Gables Series by Lucy Maud Montgomery)

Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the Anne of Green Gables series, said that her home in Cavendish "is and ever must be hallowed ground to me." She actually wrote Anne of Green Gables here, and it's easy to see how the lovely grounds inspired the light-hearted series.

Click Here To Buy


Mark Twain Cave in Hannibal, Missouri ('The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' by Mark Twain)

Mark Twain Cave (which used to be called McDowell's Cave) was Mark Twain's inspiration for MacDougal's Cave in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Click Here To Buy


Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, South Dakota (Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

You can still visit Laura Ingalls Wilder's home in De Smet, South Dakota, the inspiration behind the Little House series.

Click Here To Buy


Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, England ('Winnie-the-Pooh' by A.A. Milne)

Author A.A. Milne would take his son on walks in Ashdown Forest, the which later inspired the Hundred Acre Wood from Winnie-the-Pooh. Illustrator E.H. Shepard also used the forest for inspiration while bringing the story to life.

Click Here To Buy


The Spaniards Inn in London, England ('Ode to a Nightingale' by John Keats)

This inn is apparently very inspirational. Rumor has it, John Keats was inspired to write "Ode to a Nightingale" while listening to birds in the inn's garden, and the location is also mentioned in Charles Dickens's The Pickwick Papers and Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Click Here To Buy


Bath, England (Jane Austen's Novels)

Many scenes in Jane Austen's novels take place in Bath, and she was so inspired by this town that there is now a Jane Austen Centre for visitors.


Dublin, Ireland ('Ulysses' by James Joyce)

James Joyce said about Ulysses that "I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book."

Click Here To Buy