The Literary Trail is a guide to a walk around the city centre taking in writers who have lived in, passed through and written about Coventry.
Coventry abounds in literary connections: over the past nine hundred years writers have lived in Coventry, passed through the city and written about it. Gosford Green is the site of the third scene of William Shakespeare’s play King Richard ii; Mary Ann Evans, better known as the novelist George eliot, was at boarding school here in the 1830s and then lived in Foleshill with her father from 1841 to 1849; Charles Dickens visited, and in 1970 the novelist e. M. Forster died in Styvechale, aged 91, at the home of his friends Bob and May Buckingham. The eleventh-century Godgifu (better known by her latinised name of Godiva), the compassionate wife of Leofric Earl of Mercia, features in literature from the chronicle of roger of Wendover (who died in 1236) up to the present. Two of Coventry’s cycle of about ten Mystery Plays survive and they continue to be enacted in the city: their first recorded performance was in 1392–1393.
an excellent way of connecting with Coventry’s wealth of literary association is to walk the itinerary mapped out in this publication, with its fifteen stops en route, starting from Coventry railway station and finishing in Broadgate – or start at any point along the trail. This way you can pause to look at sites that feature in famous writers’ lives, or in what they wrote, and also retrace the steps of novelist George Eliot and poet Philip Larkin in their schooldays and imagine the youthful William Shakespeare (very possibly) watching the Coventry Mystery Plays or, years later, (almost certainly) acting in St Mary’s Guildhall.
First published by Positive images Festival 2014 updated 2021
Text copyright © eleanor nesbitt 2014
The rights of eleanor nesbitt to be identified as the author of this work have been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents act 1988.
Funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund.