Discover the history of two of Britian's finest writers

London Walks takes you back in time to celebrate two of England’s literary greats: William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.

Neither of these writers were actually born in the city. Shakespeare hailed from Stratford-upon-Avon and Dickens from Portsmouth. Nevertheless, the two geniuses made the city their canvas, drawing inspiration from its people and locations.

Shakespeare is regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s most excellent dramatist. During his career, which spanned almost a quarter of a decade, he wrote and collaborated on 39 plays, penning 154 sonnets, as well as a few other verses and poems.

Since then, his work has been translated into every major living language, with his comedies and tragedies performed more often than those of any other playwright in the world.

His most popular plays include King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest and Richard III.

Dickens was born 192 years after Shakespeare’s death and is globally-known for his intriguing fictional characters and depiction of Victorian London.

He started life working in a factory after his father was incarcerated in a debtors’ prison. Incredibly, despite never receiving a formal education, he managed to capture the hearts of the nation with his weekly journal, fifteen novels, five novellas and hundreds of short stories. Dickens was also a passionate activist, campaigning for children’s rights and social reform.

Most famously, A Christmas Carol still remains popular to this day and continues to be retold every December. Meanwhile, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities have become timeless classics.

The walking tour begins at St Paul’s Tube Station, Exit 2. Guided by one of London Walks’ experts, you will see a beautiful sixteenth-century gatehouse, the capital’s grandest Tudor Manor House, and explore the contorted alleyways from the 1800s that inspired many a Dickensian scene.

“Up a very dark, twisty, tiny, hidden, covered throughway, there is an ancient house where one of Dickens’ greatest villains, Joshua Chuzzlewit, lived,” David Tucker of London Walks explains.

“For good measure, you also see the oldest house in the capital. It’s the only place in the City of London where you view see a collection of structures pre-dating the Great Fire.” 

The walk is led through Clerkenwell and Aldersgate, past St Bartholomew’s Hospital and a vast number of other Shakespearean and Dickensian spots. Each location is put into the context of a book, poem or other work, with the guide usually quoting the celebrated authors.

“Thrillingly, you can see the surviving remains of St Mary Aldermanbury, where members of Shakespeare’s company are buried,” adds David. “You simply don’t get any closer to the author than right there.”

The Shakespeare and Dickens Tour takes place every Wednesday morning at 11am and every Sunday afternoon at 2pm. To find out more, please visit the London Walks website.

For the cheapest fares, no booking fees and free 4G Wi-Fi, book your trip to London with Hull Trains today.