Cloth $22.50 ISBN: 9780226301310 Published November 2011
E-book $25.99 About E-books ISBN: 9780226301723 Published October 2011 Also Available From
E-book Retailers: Amazon Kindle Apple iBooks B&N Nook Chegg Google Play Kno Kobo Library Vendors: ebrary EBSCO

Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë’s Grave

Simon Goldhill

Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë’s Grave

Simon Goldhill

144 pages | 12 halftones, 1 map | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2011
Cloth $22.50 ISBN: 9780226301310 Published November 2011
E-book $25.99 About E-books ISBN: 9780226301723 Published October 2011

The Victorian era was the high point of literary tourism. Writers such as Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Sir Walter Scott became celebrities, and readers trekked far and wide for a glimpse of the places where their heroes wrote and thought, walked and talked. Even Shakespeare was roped in, as Victorian entrepreneurs transformed quiet Stratford-upon-Avon into a combination shrine and tourist trap.

Stratford continues to lure the tourists today, as do many other sites of literary pilgrimage throughout Britain. And our modern age could have no better guide to such places than Simon Goldhill. In Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë’s Grave, Goldhill makes a pilgrimage to Sir Walter Scott’s baronial mansion, Wordsworth’s cottage in the Lake District, the Bront ë parsonage, Shakespeare’s birthplace, and Freud’s office in Hampstead. Traveling, as much as possible, by methods available to Victorians—and gamely negotiating distractions ranging from broken bicycles to a flock of giggling Japanese schoolgirls—he tries to discern what our forebears were looking for at these sites, as well as what they have to say to the modern mind. What does it matter that Emily Brontë’s hidden passions burned in this specific room? What does it mean, especially now that his fame has faded, that Scott self-consciously built an extravagant castle suitable for Ivanhoe—and star-struck tourists visited it while he was still living there? Or that Freud’s meticulous recreation of his Vienna office is now a meticulously preserved museum of itself? Or that Shakespeare’s birthplace features student actors declaiming snippets of his plays . . . in the garden of a house where he almost certainly never wrote a single line?

Goldhill brings to these inquiries his trademark wry humor and a lifetime’s engagement with literature. The result is a travel book like no other, a reminder that even today, the writing life still has the power to inspire.


1  The Golden Ticket
2  Lion Hunting in Scotland
3  Panting up the Endless Alp of Life
4  Seething in Yorkshire
5  Oh For a Muse of Fire!
6  Freud, Actually

How to Get There
Further Reading
Photo Credits
Review Quotes
Shelf Awareness for Readers

"Wryly funny, deeply thoughtful musings on literary pilgrimage--why readers visit writers’ houses, and what, if anything, we gain by it. . . . Part travel memoir, part literary inquiry, with a large dose of history and frequent dashes of dry humor, this book will appeal to bookworms, Anglophiles and anyone who loves to visit historical sites but rolls their eyes at the overpriced rubbish in the gift shop."

The Tablet: The International Cattholic Weekly
"Unfailingly enjoyable. . . . Goldhill’s book is an evocative excursion, a joy to read and full of interest."
Wall Street Journal

“Mr. Goldhill’s lightly worn wit and learning summon these vanished luminaries briefly back before us. Neither the fabled chair where Sir Walter Scott’s buttocks once rested nor Charlotte Brontë’s tattered stocking can compete with the words they once sent out into the world. After all, these writers lived by words, and by words they still live.”

For more information, or to order this book, please visit
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style

Chicago Blog: Literature

Events in Literature

Keep Informed