Every town, city and country have something to offer, each place inspiring to at least one person. Certain locations may resonate with people because it’s where they grew up, where they had their first kiss or because it reminds them of stories they’ve been told. Other locations may inspire because of their long history or unique culture, or because of it’s untouched natural beauty.
Whether it be their beauty, culture or history these eight locations around the world are just a few examples of places that have inspired the creation of iconic literature and poetry through time.
1) The Lake District, England
Famed for its clear lakes, grassy mountains and gorgeous natural countryside, the Lake District is the UK’s biggest national park and has inspired many writers over the years. The Lake Poets such as Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey were heavily inspired by the picturesque landscape.
William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud” was inspired by a long stretch of daffodils he encountered while taking a walk in the Lake District countryside. Moreover, many of Beatrix Potter‘s tales were inspired by the wildlife she encountered on her summer visits to the Lake District.
2) Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The bustling, architecturally brilliant capital of Cambodia is a culturally rich, fascinating location which has inspired much travel writing such as “A Dragon Apparent” which catalogues Norman Lewis’ travels through Cambodia in the 1940s, though it does focus as much on Vietnam.
Moreover, Phnom Penh has a dark, brutal history and many people have a story to share as a result. “The Disappeared“, by Kim Echlin, tells the story of a girl who abandons all to find her lost love in Phnom Penh, a city still wounded from the Khmer Rouge killings.
3) Verona, Italy
This city in North East Italy has inspired romance stories throughout the years including three of Shakespeare’s plays, most famously “Romeo and Juliet“. These star-crossed lovers from fair Verona are no less infamous now than they were at the height of Shakespeare’s popularity in the late 16th century.
The romantic tragedy itself has inspired novels such as “Letters to Juliet“, the story of a group of women who answer letters as Juliet, which are left underneath her infamous balcony.
4) The Pacific Crest Trail, USA
The trail extends from Canada to the US side of the Mexican border. Passing through 25 national forests and 7 national parks, the Pacific Crest Trail has, not surprisingly, inspired many a memoir.
From “The High Adventure of Eric Ryback: Canada to Mexico on Foot“, written by the first person to hike the whole of the PCT, to Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild: A Journey From Lost to Found“, the tale of her journey of self-discovery.
5) Kenya, Africa
Inspiring the 1937 memoir “Out of Africa“, the culture and wildlife in Kenya impressed upon the Baroness author, pen name Isak Dinesen, to the extent that she made a Kenyan farm her home for 17 years and has written about her experiences in Kenya in the 1930’s.
“Born Free” is also inspired by the wildlife of Kenya, telling the story of a growing lion cub making the transition from captivity to living in the wild in the Kenyan desert.
6) Bath, England
Jane Austen novels, such as Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, are inspired by Regency period Bath. Her experiences of the societal customs and oddities typical to Bath in that period are evident in both novels.
Traditions such as “taking the waters” at the Roman baths, which the city is famous for and consequently named after, are alluded to in Austen’s writing. Austen herself didn’t actually like the city and wrote a letter revealing the “happy feelings of escape” she felt after moving from Bath to Clifton.
The Roman Baths in Bath have also featured in the Charles Dickens novel “The Pickwick Papers“.
7) The Lofoten Islands, Norway
These Islands off the Northwestern coast of Norway have inspired a multitude of literature. Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “A Descent Into the Maelstrom” speaks of a man who survives after his ship is swallowed by the Moskstraumen; the site of the strongest whirlpools in the world, located in the Lofoten archipelago in Norway.
The Scottish poet Thomas Campbell also modelled his poem “Ode to Winter” on this part of Norway speaking of its “howling Winter” and alluding to the Moskstraumen “whirls to death the roaring whale”.
Other titles inspired by the Lofoten archipelago include “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea“, the story of the Submarine Nautilus and “The Colour of Water” which also uses the Moskstraumen to bring to life its climax.
8) Gion, Japan
Gion, a district within Kyoto, has a rich, unique history. The district is famous for Geisha culture and became one of the most well known Geisha districts in all Japan. For this reason, there are countless stories about Geisha set in this district.
Arguably the most famous Geisha in the world, Mineko Iwasaki, recounted her experiences in Gion in her autobiography “Geisha of Gion“.
Other highly popular books include “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden, “Geisha” by Liza Dalby – the only white American to be trained as a Geisha; both novels allow insight into the workings of 20th-century Geisha culture in Gion.