Books about town: find London's literary benches and share your photos
London has become a literary playground: a project by the National Literacy Trust has scattered 50 book-shaped benches across the capital for the whole summer, each dedicated to an iconic London-related author or character. Will you help us find them?
Fancy sitting on a book? Yes, you read correctly: not with, but on – although now you can try both. From today, you can do it in 50 different locations around London, thanks to book-shaped benches, which have been installed all over the city by the National Literacy Trust to celebrate London’s literary heritage and to encourage reading.
The 50 benches are dedicated to books, characters and authors: from Sherlock Holmes, James Bond and Hercules Poirot to Peter Pan, The Gruffalo and Paddington Bear. Each bench has been designed an artist. Ralph Steadman, who illustrated Lewis Carroll’s children’s classic Through the Looking Glass in 1973 – has reproduced some of the original drawings on that bench. Here he is at work:
And here is the beautiful result:
Other benches include a collaboration between Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson to celebrate the characters they have created together, fromThe Gruffalo to the stars of their new book The Scarecrow’s Wedding. Clarice Bean has her own bench, thanks to Lauren Child, as doesCressida Cowell's How to Tame Your Dragon; and here's artist Charles Bezzina varnishing the Frozen in Time bench based on Captain Scott’s Autobiography:
You'll find the details for all 50 benches and their authors and illustratorson this list. Plus, several literary trails have been created around Greenwich, the City, Riverside and Bloomsbury – you can check the details and maps here. The benches will be displayed until mid-September and auctioned at the Southbank Centre on 7 October, to raise funds for the National Literacy Trust.
The project will also include lots of events, such as book giveaways, a performance by the cast of the 1984 stage production, a meerkat flashmob or an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most number of people dressed as Sherlock Holmes. Check their website forthe full programme and details.
The books have now all been put in place – here's proof of one of them, (still) all alone over in the Thames:
But we won't tell you too much more: discovering them is up to you. Whether you you stumble upon Orwell's 1984 or find yourself sitting on a dragon, take a photo with the bench, tell us why you love that author or book, show us how you're participating in the events, and why not be creative and record yourself quoting a few lines from the text in situ?