Literary beaches

What are the first images the word ‘beach’ evokes in you? Freedom, fun and relaxation? Reflection and solitude? Adventure and exploration?

To the Lighthouse Beach

Illustration from To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.


The beach means something different to each one of us and this versatility has given it many differing functions throughout the history of literature. It’s a place we long for throughout the year, the place for getaways, it is also a place of arrivals and departures. You cannot avoid the beach and the sea in Great Britain, given that the coastline of the main island is approximately 17,820 km. The history of British and American literature is packed with explorers, seafarers and pirates looking for adventure; authors looking for inspiration or solitude on the beach. Around the British Isles, in far-away lands, the beach has been a significant locale for literary texts. Take some of these books with you to the beach, or enjoy it through these stories, these beaches will stay with you for one reason or another.

Go to the beach with us and explore some exciting beaches in literature:

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Choose one of these five novels:

  • The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch
  • On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • The Beach by Alex Garland
  • Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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