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Write Around The World

9th August 2021

Write Around The World hosted by actor Richard E Grant, a 3 part series on BBC Four, co-produced by the Open University.

We were uttlerly delighted to discover BBC Four’s 3 part series “Write Around The World” presented by actor Richard E Grant. The books featured aren’t, however, the standard travel guides; they are instead books that have been inspired by the places in which they are set and which he visits in the programmes: to wit Italy, France and Spain. He feels, that seeing the locations through the eyes of great writers will give him fresh insight into the life and history of some of Europe’s most stunning destinations.

Write Around The World

Photo: Open University

Tales of murder and intrigue, mouthwatering accounts of local flavours and natural wonders, all take a reader under the skin of a locale.

His first stop is Southern Italy, an area that has inspired a wealth of amazing authors. He sets off to walk in the footsteps of his chosen literary companions and see the places they have brought to life so vividly in words. He starts off in Naples, a chaotic, colourful city that has clearly inspired so many writers. And of course, the natural choice for a novel to bring the city to sparkling life is the work of Elena Ferrante and the first in her Neapolitan series is My Brilliant Friend. The city has enjoyed a boom, thanks in no small part to the huge success of her novels and which have captured the imagination of millions of readers across the world. That really is perfect #literarytourism! She paints a “visceral, warts-and-all portrait of this intoxicating city, he muses. He is taken on his Elena Ferrante tour by local guide, Sophia Seymour who runs “LookingforLila” tours taking guests around the sites of Ferrante’s novels. She also convinces him to visit the a banca e ll’acaqua where he imbibes quite a potion, a cure all for anything really….

Of Naples he says: As you walk through these alleyways, it is impossible not to project the community of characters described in the book onto the market sellers… as they amble through the centre and out to Rione Luzzati, where the two lead characters, Elena and Lila, are understood to have lived.

Part of the joy of following in a writer’s footsteps, is that they lead you to places most tourists wouldn’t go. Charles Dickens saw the attractions of writing about the city and of course Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel Eat Pray Love motivates the presenter to embark on an epicurean trip to Pizzeria da Michele for some wonderful pizza, mentioned in the novel! That pizza clearly made him happy!

Write Around The World

Photo: Storyvault

And then it is off round the Bay of Naples to Pompeii, where he chooses Pompeii by Robert Harris. Harris draws on the writings of Pliny the Younger, who wrote 2 letters recording the eruption and obliteration of Pompeii. The novel is a brilliant example of how fiction can transport you back in time emotionally, bringing history to life. It is the iconic novel, Harris is absolutely the king of Pompeii storytelling (and if you fancy reading more books set there, then do check out our full curated list of titles set in Pompei

Write Around The World

Photo: INews

After a couple more stops in amazing locations, he leaves Italy behind and heads for the South of France and then on to Southern Spain, where he continues to share further wonderfully transportive titles. For those of you in the UK (or who have access to the BBC), catch all three episodes on this link, you won’t regret watching the series!

The advantage of reading a book in the place where it is actually set, is that you get the 360 degree, 3-dimensional impact of where you are….

Tina for the TripFiction Team

Trawl our database for a full (and of course always growing) list of books set in

Southern Italy    The South of France    Southern Spain (Andalucía)

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Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021