Belfast is a city that inspired some of Britain's greatest authors, playing no small part in classics such as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Gulliver’s Travels. For a dose of literary creativity, you need only look to its hallowed university, leafy squares and traditional pubs. Here are the key spots for bookish travellers.
This anthropomorphic mountain on the northern edge of Belfast is distinguished by its ‘Napoleon’s Nose’, a basaltic outcrop said to resemble the emperor’s sniffer. But Jonathan Swift saw something else in Cave Hill’s silhouette: a slumbering giant, which inspired him to write Gulliver’s Travels.
The John Hewitt
Named after the Belfastian poet, this old-school boozer, all deep mahogany and frothy ales, is the perfect place to pen your first novel – just remember to put your quill down for its rowdy live music nights.
This higgledy-piggledy indie bookshop is beloved by local writers – particularly novelist Glenn Patterson, who sometimes stops by for readings. Browse its stacks – with special focus on crime fiction and American studies – before cracking open your new purchase with a good coffee in the cosy reading nook.
Scratch your chin over the immortal words of Louis MacNeice, Sam Hanna Bell, John Hewitt and other greats, whose quotations are inscribed in stone in this public square and park in front of St Anne’s Cathedral.
C.S. Lewis Square
Another four-point tribute to a literary bigwig – this time, Mr Narnia himself. Belfast’s prodigal son is honoured with seven bronze sculptures depicting characters from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, including a roaring, spiky-maned Aslan keeping watch over the square.
C.S. Lewis Reading Room
Enter through a wardrobe door – a replica of the namesake bit of furniture from Lewis’s most famous work – into this cosy reading room in the McClay Library of Queen’s University, decorated with quotations from the author.