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Finding the Graves of England's Literary Greats

Guest Author - Karyn Johnson

I read an article this week that The Protestant Cemetery in Rome, home to two of England's literary greats - John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley - is crumbling, and there is very little chance to save it unless money can be found for restoration. Keats was buried there in 1821, after dying of tuberculosis in Rome. Shelley was buried there a year later, after he drowned in waters off the Italian coast (but his heart is buried in Bournemouth, England at St. Peter's Churchyard).

Of course, those are just two of the great writers in England's long literary tradition. I've visited Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey and paid homage to Shakespeare at his resting place, but this article made me think about all the other burial places of England's great writers and where a literature fan like myself might find them. Obviously, not all of them are buried in England, but here are some who are, and where to find their graves:

Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, London - Here, you will find the graves for Geoffrey Chaucer, Ben Jonson, John Dryden, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and Rudyard Kipling, among countless others. Memorials to other great writers who are buried elsewhere can also be found in Poets' Corner. Ben Jonson is also buried in Westminster Abbey, but his grave is not in Poets' Corner. There is a memorial for him there, however.

William Shakespeare - England's greatest literary figure can be found at Holy Trinity Church in his birthplace of Stratford-Upon-Avon. There is a small fee to get in and see his grave, but if you are a fan of the Bard (as I am), that is probably what will bring you to Stratford in the first place, in addition to visiting his birthplace and seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company.

William Wordsworth - A contemporary of Keats and Shelley, Wordsworth is buried in St. Oswald's Churchyard, Grasmere, Cumbria. His sister, Dorothy, a writer in her own right, is also buried there.

The Brontės - Sisters Charlotte and Emily are buried in the family vault at St. Michael's and All Angels' Church, Haworth, Yorkshire. Anne is buried in Scarborough at St. Mary's churchyard.

William Blake - This poet of Songs of Innocence and Experience is laid to rest in London at Bunhill Fields Burial Ground.

Jane Austen - Arguably England's most famous female novelist, Jane Austen is buried at magnificent Winchester Cathedral.

Lord Byron - Another great Romantic writer, Byron is entombed at St. Mary Magdalene Church, Hocknall Torkard, Nottinghamshire.

The Rossettis - Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a Pre-Raphaelite poet and artist, is buried at the parish church in Birchington, Kent. His sister, the poet and author Christina Rossetti, is buried at Highgate Cemetery, London.

Robert Bridges - England's former poet laureate is buried in the churchyard of St. Peter's and St. Paul's, Yattendon, Berkshire.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Wordsworth's friend and scribe of the famous poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is buried at St. Michael's Church, Highgate, London.

Christopher Marlowe - A great Renaissance poet and playwright (of Dr. Faustus fame) and a contemporary of Shakespeare, Marlowe is buried in London in an unmarked grave at St. Nicholas's Church, Deptford.

John Milton - The 17th century poet and author is buried in London at St. Giles' Church without Cripplegate.

Alexander Pope - The man who penned An Essay on Criticism is entombed in St. Mary's Church, Twickenham, London.

Of course, these are just a few of the great writers and poets whose grave sites can be found scattered throughout England. I have listed some helpful sites below to assist you in finding others.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Karyn Johnson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Karyn Johnson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Asha Sahni for details.

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