World's 10 best literary destinations

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

Edinburgh's atmospheric old town has inspired writers from Muriel Spark to J.K. Rowling. Visit the Writers' Museum for memorabilia associated with writers such as Robert Burns and Walter Scott. Tour Leith if you're a fan of Trainspotting, or Grassmarket in the footsteps of Ian Rankin's detective John Rebus. Visit Arthur Conan Doyle's home before a beer at Deacon Brodie Tavern, named after the inspiration for R.L. Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. See edinburgh.org

TOHOKU, JAPAN

This rustic region in the north of Japan's main island Honshu was made famous by great 17th-century poet and haiku master Matsuo Basho. The account of this travels there, Narrow Road to the Interior, promulgated the idea of travel as freedom, and inspired the Beat Generation. A Basho trail leads along rural pathways to the landscapes, tranquil Shinto shrines and other destinations associated with the influential poet. See tohokukanko.jp

MONTREUX RIVIERA, SWITZERLAND

Many fabled writers came to this Lake Geneva region to find inspiration. Vladimir Nabokov (who lived for 20 years in a Montreux hotel) is buried in Clarens, Graham Greene in Vevey. When Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote about Lake Geneva he sparked a rush of Romantic writers to visit, including Goethe, Wordsworth and Lord Byron, who wrote The Prisoner of Chillon and made Chillon Castle Switzerland's most famous building. See montreuxriviera.com

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, CANADA

Canada's smallest province shot to international fame in 1908 with the publication of a saccharine novel about an optimistic red-haired orphan, Anne of Green Gables, which was followed by many sequels. The children's classic has brought visitors here ever since to see the farmhouse and landscapes that inspired the story. You can also visit several houses where author Lucy Maud Montgomery's was born and lived. See tourismpei.com

ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

Dostoevsky was the great recorder of St Petersburg's underworld of thieves, shopkeepers and revolutionaries humiliated by social injustice. You can visit the palace where he studied military engineering, the fortress where he was imprisoned for joining a socialist group, and the canal-side buildings where his most famous characters lived. Dostoevsky's apartment in Vladimirskaya, barely changed since the day he died in 1881, is now a museum. See visit-petersburg.ru

NEW ORLEANS, US

The Vampire Chronicles by bestselling hometown writer Anne Rice helped seal New Orleans' reputation as a favourite vampire hangout. Enthusiasts loiter outside the author's former 1857 mansion, which appears in The Witching Hour, and visit Gallier House, the purported home of Lestat and Louis, played by Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in Interview with a Vampire. You can also visit the houses of Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner. See neworleans.com

DORSET, ENGLAND

Thomas Hardy was born in Higher Brockhampton in 1840 in a house that is now a museum. The great Victorian novelist set many novels in Dorset locations including Dorchester (renamed Casterbridge) and Georgian-era seaside town Weymouth (Budmouth), charting the disappearance of rural lifestyles under the pressures of industrialisation. Lyme Regis, meanwhile, was often visited by Jane Austen, and is the setting for John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman. See visit-dorset.com

CAIRO, EGYPT

The story of writing goes right back to the ancient papyrus texts in the Egyptian Museum. Some tours explore the Cairo neighbourhoods featured in the novels of Nobel Prize-winning writer Naguib Mahfouz and make a stop at Café Riche, hangout of Mahfouz and a host of other intellectuals and revolutionaries. Influential writer Taha Hussein has his own museum. January's Cairo International Book Fair is one of the world's largest. See egypt.travel

PARIS, FRANCE

Paris has provided inspiration for French writers such as Balzac, Hugo and Sartre and, in the early 20th century, American ones such as Hemingway and Fitzgerald too. Check out Maison de Victor Hugo, the recreation of Proust's infamous bedroom at Musée Carnavalet, legendary bookstore Shakespeare and Company, Oscar Wilde's hotel room, and bohemian neighbourhood Montmartre. Many literary luminaries rest in either Père Lachaise cemetery or the Panthéon. See parisinfo.com

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DUBLIN, IRELAND

For a small city, Dublin packs a huge literary punch and is covered in plaques commemorating writers such as Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett. Literary pub crawls and tours take in the Dublin of Leopold Bloom, anti-hero of James Joyce's Ulysses. You'll also want to visit Dublin Writers Museum, Abbey Theatre and the manuscript collections of Chester Beatty Library and Trinity College. See visitdublin.com

Brian Johnston has travelled as a guest of various tourism offices and at his own expense.

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