"Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself."
So begins one of London literature's best-known perambulations — Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway. On 2 October, you can follow in the footsteps of Clarissa Dalloway's Day as she ambles around Westminster doing her pre-party prep.
This Mrs Dalloway's Day walk is part of the Literary Footprints festival, which this year, has a Virginia Woolf/Bloomsbury Group bent. Other walks and talks taking place between 1-31 October include Circles, Squares and Triangles (Stephen Benton visits the sites of Virginia Woolf's four Bloomsbury homes, and discusses the books she penned therein), and The Lives and Loves of the Bloomsbury Group — in which Jenni Bowley explains how Woolf et al "lived in squares and loved in triangles".
There are over 40 talks and walks in all, and plenty take place outside of Bloomsbury. Proceedings get off to an (intentionally) wobbly start on 1 October, with Dr Richard Barnett's talk at Guildhall Library on the 18th century Gin Craze *hic*.
Jill Finch then whisks us back to Ye Olde Fleet Street to discover the history of the former universe of print and press (2 and 12 October), while Rob Smith gets unashamedly grim, guiding tours based on Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year (9 October) and another visiting London locations that have featured in dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction (that's on 16 October).
Younger literary fans aren't neglected — in particular we recommend Follow the Footsteps of Oliver Twist with Hazel Baker (3 and 15 October — suitable for 14+), and Amber the American Tour Guide's Walking with Poppins (Mary, obvs) jaunt on 4 and 18 October.
This being London and all, Baker's isn't the only Dickens walk — you can also sign up for Dickens After Dark (14, 21 and 18 October) and Dickens in Southwark (2 October). And, unsurprisingly, there's a liberal sprinkling of Shakespeare, Chaucer and Conan Doyle.
From our many experiences with them, the Footprints of London folks make for effortlessly erudite and entertaining guides — and this festival is a chance to have some of your fave London literature brought to life in front of your very eyes and ears. To paraphrase Mrs Dalloway — we love walking in London. Really it's better than walking in the country.
Tickets for each event cost £10 or you can buy a festival season ticket, which gives access to over 40 walks during October for £40.