Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Literary Rabbit Hole

The Literary Rabbit Hole
Any voracious reader will tell you, this activity is fraught with tempting diversions.  One book can easily lead to twenty - an interest can become a fascination with hardly a whisper of warning, and before you can say “Hermione Granger”, you have fallen down a wondrous rabbit hole with doors leading off to a multitude of magical destinations.  Is it any wonder London’s King Cross Station installed a Platform 9 and 3/4’s?

King's Cross Station, London

Fall in love with Mrs. Dalloway, for instance, and one is soon delightfully lost on the streets of Bloomsbury, making the acquaintance of all sorts of literary giants from E.M. Forster and T. S. Eliot.  Virginia introduces you to Vita Sackville-West and you take a lateral shift to a love of gardening.  Or you open a door to find Vanessa Bell, working on a portrait of her sister while across the room sits Duncan Grant, and in no time at all you have veered away from letters and plants and are immersed in art.  Soon you are in a rental car heading to Monk’s House and Sissinghurst -  Charleston House, and Berwick Church, a besotted and unabashed devotee. 

Charleston, Sussex, England

Or perhaps you discover an old copy of The Pursuit of Love. You are tickled and enchanted and before you know it, you are reading the all the many letters of the infamous Mitford sisters, from authoress Nancy to communist Jessica.  You become conversant on all things Mitford - from Unity’s unfortunate fascination with Hitler to Debo’s chickens.  If you’re not careful, you’re in another rental car on the way to Chatsworth.....

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England

Daphne du Maurier beckons to Cornwall, the Brontes will lure you to Yorkshire. 
Read Gerald Durrell and you are sure to long for the white-washed sun of Corfu.  But few literary rabbit holes are deeper and more mysterious than the Southern one. 

Most people are introduced to Southern literature by way of Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, a book that rest comfortably and deservedly atop many, if not most, “best books” lists.  From there they are likely to discover Faulkner, Capote and Twain and journeys to Mississippi, Alabama and Missouri are being planned.  I know from experience.  Flannery O’Connor has called me to Andalusia, her peacock-dotted farm in Milledgeville, Georgia and recently, on the week of my birthday, I accepted Eudora Welty’s invitation to visit her lovely Tudor home in Jackson, Mississippi.

It was the late Eudora’s birthday week as well, so how could I refuse?  Plus, known for her garden as she was, the Eudora Welty Trust was having a plant sale in her very own garden.  As I have been in the process of redoing our back garden, this was too good to pass up.  Some of Eudora’s plants in my very own garden, in view of my writing chair on the porch?  What inspiration that would be!  We took a slight side trip to somewhere utterly magical, too.
Watch this space for all the details next!

And I wonder….
Have you ever fallen down a literary rabbit hole like me?
If so, where did you go?
And who lured you there?
Or… who would you like to follow??
Special Note:
Edward and I are now on Instagram!
Follow us for photos of our travels, our home, our garden, our adventures!
We’ll have fun!
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Some of the authors mentioned in this post, in case you’re interested….
Click on the titles to see more.


  1. Ah, so many of my favorite authors who have lured me on are already on your list, Twain, Eliot, Lee, Du Maurier, the Brontes, Welty, O'Connor. But also Mary Stewart, Wilkie Collins and, of course, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! And, in kid books, P. L. Travers, Edith Nesbit, Edward Eager, Francis Hodges Burnett. And so many others.
    Re: "Is it any wonder London’s King Cross Station installed a Platform 9 and 3/4’s?" I didn't know they had. That is so cool!

  2. Actually I meant to say Frances Hodgson Burnett. I always mess up on her name. :-)

  3. Yes, I have fallen down the rabbit hole of Bloomsbury many times. Isn't it fun though! How exciting to have plants from Eurdora Welty's garden in your own garden. Can't wait to read more about that!

  4. What a marvellous magic carpet ride down your rabbit hole. Being restricted in physical travel these days, I still happily spread my wings and take flight on the written world. One can take off from any cosy corner and the whole world becomes one's oyster.

  5. Pamela, you always take me to places I love to go.

  6. Isn't Charleston fun ? In the same vein has this appeared on PBS yet ?

  7. What a gorgeous post!
    Yes, I'm constantly heading down literary rabbit holes - and off to England next week to add to them!
    Used to hang over Monk's House wall in the 70's......
    Happy spring and warm greetings from Buster and Elizabeth.

  8. I am rather like Arija these days, although we are going to Suffolk, to Aldebrough before too long - a glorious coast and lured there by the writings of Ronald Blythe. the music of Benjamin Britten, the works of EM Forster, the paintings of the Nash brothers - what a feast of things to look into.

  9. What an exciting post, on many levels! First to have walked in Eudora Welty's garden and take something alive home to grow in your own garden, what a birthday gift! But also to be reminded of all the lovely hours of following one book to another, immersing oneself in the culture and times.Sometimes i don't fall further along the rabbit hole until I fully explore the author's every single book I can lay my hands on, many of those you've mentioned above and I think also of my Elizabeth von Arnim period, greedy for the next book. My, there's just not time enough to fall as far down the rabbit hole as I would wish to!

    Your illustration is perfect! This all reminds me of the astringent Ray Bradbury's Rabbit Hole Lost and Found Book Shoppe. I think I've searched for that book shop ever since I read of his.

  10. I enjoy those literary rabbit holes even tho my TBR stacks are tall. I love the Sisters: The Mitford Saga book, and read many books about Tudor times, fiction and nonfiction. Bloggers rabbited on about Anthony Trollope and he is my newest book crush. I bought the 6 novels in the Chronicles of Barchester and adore the first three, and Trollope led to Angela Thirkell so I bought her Wild Strawberries. Oh what an endless web we weave.

  11. As you can probably guess, I fell down the rabbit hole a long time ago. I make many return trips thanks to my reading of many blogs such as yours which lead me astray. Although I had the pleasure of having my picture made with Miss Welty many years ago at a reading, and she later autographed my vintage copy of The Golden Apples, I would dearly love to have a cutting from her garden to go in my patio garden. I do envy you that! A trip to Jackson looms somewhere in my future, along with a visit to Charleston House, I hope! :-)

  12. Rabbit holes, indeed! It is interesting for me to note that those English novels I read in my impressionable teens have influenced my literary loves - the Brontes, Thomas Hardy, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Mary Stewart, and Virginia Woolf, the subject of my high school senior term paper, and the start of my fascination with the Bloomsbury Group. Now four and a half decades later, I still prefer any book set in the British Isles, even over my own closer southern heritage.

  13. Pamela I read for book club and the hostess chooses the book. For me anythings about art, and I always go back to the classics, it is so much different and revealing to read as an adult! Virginia Woolf, Bronte, Harper Lee, F. Scott, Hemingway, and many more!

    The Arts by Karena

  14. Hi, Pamela. A friend just introduced me to your blog. It is absolutely wonderful - congratulations on a superb job!
    Question: What breed of dog is Edward? I can tell how much you love him. He is so wonderful. At present I have a cat, but I love dogs very much.
    Have a look at my blog some time - Books to the Ceiling. You might enjoy it.
    Best wishes, Roberta

  15. A very dangerous rabbit hole into which our family has fallen has been to try to make and eat the recipes found in some of our family's favorite children's fiction. Just to name a few off the top of my head there is: Ann's cordial, turkish delight, maple syrup snow candy, ginger beer, sticky toffee, hot cross buns, watercress sandwiches, pineapple upside-down cake, marmalade sandwiches, treacle pudding, and it goes on and on. The calories, the cavities! Sandra

  16. Pamela,
    You led me down the Bloomsbury literary rabbit hole.
    I followed willingly xx
    Thank you

  17. Just to add to your fab rabbit hole, I've tripped many times down the Russian steppes with Tolstoy, and all his glorious fellow russian authors.


  18. I am a little late to respond, I know, but you are describing my life! My husband just laughs when I tell him that my idea of a perfect vacation would be a literary tour of the UK. In fact, my latest trip down the rabbit hole was caused by reading your blog- I can't stand it anymore! I have to take up knitting!! I followed the link to the Whiskey Knitters and saw the incredible acorn and oak pillow you did. Stunning. Ever since you talked about the thrill of Outlander and how it offered so much knitting inspiration, it has been tugging at me.

    I actually wrote awhile back about having a hip replacement- you were so encouraging about yours, and you were right...not bad at all. Thank you!

    I can't believe how much we have in common. My roots are both Southern and Scottish. I am a total Anglophile. Literature fuels my life. I have long blonde hair. I long to live in a cottage (though I've not had the opportunity). I left my heart in Scotland, and I am determined to return. I am not an interior decorator/ designer, but I am a botanical artist, and I also love decorating. Anyway, just to say that I shouted "Halleluiah" when I came across your blog, feeling that I'd encountered a soul sister. Thank you! Oh, and I have a much loved dog, too- a Westie named Ceilidh (Scots Gaelic for "party"). She sends love to Edward.

    If you have never read "Why I Live at the P.O." by Eudora Welty and "The Diary of Adam and Eve" by Mark Twain, please do and give yourself a treat! Never, ever stop your blog!!!!- Kimberly


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