Britain unveils its 10 greatest music, literary places

Britain unveiled on Tuesday its 10 greatest music and literary places, among which are the birthplace of William Shakespeare and the homes of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

Britain unveiled on Tuesday the country's 10 greatest music and literary places, among which are the birthplace of William Shakespeare and the homes of famous British writers Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

This is part of Britain's official cultural agency Historic England's campaign entitled "A History of England in 100 Places", which aims to find the 100 places which bring England's extraordinary history to life.

Also among the 10 is the famous Abbey Road studios in London, the world's longest surviving live music venue, where the Beatles recorded world-hit albums.

Monica Ali, chair of a panel of expert judges, said: "The judging process proved to be a reminder of just how rich the nation's history of creativity is."

"It is an acknowledgement of how the arts have shaped our society, especially at a time when arts are becoming more and more marginalized. These are not only places in which to learn about the past, they also invite contemplation, reflection and, just maybe, inspiration, thus passing the creative baton to future generations," Ali said.

Explaining why Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon has been included, Ali said: "Shakespeare is the greatest English language writer, the most important dramatist, and a superb poet. A visit to his birthplace and to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is always inspiring."

Ali, a self-proclaimed great fan of Jane Austen, said although the writer was one of England's most enduringly popular authors with legions of fans, she was underrated.

Austen's home at Chawton in Hampshire was where Austen's genius flourished, producing her greatest novels, Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice and Northanger Abbey, said Ali.

"With biting irony, Austen used her novels to comment on society, people and the events she observed in her corner of the world," Ali added.

Charles Dickens' former home in Holborn, London where he wrote two of his best-loved novels, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby, is on the list.

Ali described Dickens as the quintessential London novelist, saying that, when Dickens moved to Doughty Street in 1837, London's streets and their everyday characters inspired him to put London at the heart of many of his stories and his depiction.

The list also includes the Bronte Parsonage in West Yorkshire, home to the three literary sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte. It was in this house that the Bronte sisters wrote some of their most famous novels, including Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey.

Handel & Hendrix in London, two neighboring houses, 23 and 25 Brook Street, London, saw two great musicians, Baroque composer George Frideric Handel and 1960s rock icon Jimmi Hendrix, living there 200 years apart.

Other places on the list include the 100 Club in London, described as the "mother of all live music venues", and the home of British writer George Orwell in Islington, London, and Manchester's Chetham Library, the oldest free public reference library in the English speaking world which opened 350 years ago.

In early January, Historic England named the 10 most historic sports and leisure places in England, which includes Wimbledon, home of one of the oldest tennis tournaments in the world.  

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