Literary tourism is the practice of visiting cities and sites related to works of fiction and their authors. Combining literature with travel and cultural experiences, literary tourism is by no means a recent occurrence and has been practiced for several centuries. The use of electronic devices for participating in the literary tourism experience has become popular and has added some new twists to this form of tourism.
An interest in traveling to places associated with poets and novelists grew in the 19th century, when according to historical accounts, curious travelers began visiting the homes, graves and favorite haunts of famous writers. Travelers also visited the sites and cities described in famous poems and novels. During this time, Stratford, England was memorialized for Shakespeare, while Abbotsford, England, was venerated for Sir Walter Scott. The Bronte sisters were remembered for their home at Haworth, England.
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Crossing the boundaries between literature and cultural studies, literary tourism invites readers to make fictional experiences come alive. Literary tourism enables travelers to immerse themselves in the local culture, while increasing their knowledge about authors and literature. To cater to the tastes of this specialized group of travelers, many cities have taken advantage of this phenomenon by creating walking and cycling tours of famous writers' homes, the places where they wrote, and taverns they may have visited.
For example, London, England, has tours that honor Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Homes. One tour includes a house dedicated to fictional characters from the novel. In Ireland, a Dublin Literary Pub Crawl invites tourists to walk in the shoes of writers like James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and W.B. Yeats. The walking tour is guided by actors, and guests are invited to participate in a literary quiz with prizes.
The development of electronic devices for reading books has sparked new innovations in literary tourism, with authors writing novels that offer readers the option of a virtual travel experience or a new way to enjoy a travel destination. Travel guides in some of these novels allow the reader to visit sites remotely or gather information for a vacation. Some electronic literary tourism novels encourage the readers to visit a city by involving them in a game in which points are given for visiting different locations. An example is a novel by the Japanese author Higashi Moriyama, who has partnered with the city of Kyota, Japan, to draw tourists to the city.