London is a literary city, there’s no denying it. From the Bloomsbury set to Blake, Dickens and (who could forget) Shakespeare – writing in and about the city have been popular activities since Roman times. Unsurprising it is then, that the City – London’s historic heart – is a place widely adored by bibliophiles, full of glorious gems (both hidden and in the open) for readers looking for a quiet space to read their latest tome.
1. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – Worry not about the quality of this list of suggestions: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a pub, and a very cosy one at that. Rebuilt in 1667, Dr. Samuel Johnson, Sherlock’s own creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and W. B. Yeats all frequented this establishment for a drink. In this spirit (pardon the pun) of historic clientele, who could deny that this pub is the perfect place for a read? Perhaps even make that book Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities (which references this very “tavern”).
2. Bishopsgate Library – Where you’ll have to put forth some pennies to take reading refuge at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Bishopsgate Library (just around the corner from Liverpool Street) is entirely free and open to the public. Indeed, you don’t even have to sign up or pay for the WiFi, the newspapers laid out, or the study areas available. First opened in 1895, the library provides these facilities for free in order to stay true to its initial mission of offering people in the City some space to think away from the hustle and bustle of the streets. Furthermore, it’s beautiful. Grab a book and go.
3. The Barbican Centre Library – The Barbican seems to have it all, to be honest. Offering both a library and the very homely cinema cafe, this cultural centre perfectly provides for the peace bibliophiles and writers alike require. Need some fresh air? Take a wander around outside and find a bench in the chill autumn air. It’s deceptively serene.
4. Bunhill Fields Burial Ground – Speaking of the outdoors, just north of the Square Mile and just below Old Street lies Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, wherein Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan, and William Blake are buried. It might seem morbid to read among the dead, but there is a beauty to the place quite separate from London’s usual vibe – and you certainly won’t have your reading interrupted.
5. St. Bride Foundation Library – Finally, if all the above fail to satisfy your particular needs when it comes to the perfect place to read your book, head over to the St. Bride Foundation by Fleet Street. Built in 1895, the library has opened its reading room to the public for a mere £1.