Jane Austen

For several years, lived and wrote in Bath. Despite her dislike of city life, Austen enjoyed such cosmopolitan pursuits as people-watching and shopping for clothes, two activities that the city is still known for today. To follow in the novelist's footsteps, saunter through Sydney Gardens, or pop up to the Pump Room and sample the spa water. walking tours (pounds 3.50 adults, pounds 3 concessions) run from the Centre (01225 443000) at 40, Gay Street, on Friday, Sunday and Wednesday.

Iain Banks

The recent BBC adaptation of Banks's novel The Crow Road featured the village of Lochgair, overlooking Jura, off the west coast of Scotland. The setting is remote but worth the effort to get there.

Catch a bus from Glasgow's Buchanan Street bus station to Kennacraig (pounds 15.50 return). Then take a ferry from Port Askaig to Islay (pounds 11.30 for a five-day return), and then finally another ferry to Jura. For more information, contact The Scottish Tourist Information Centre (0171-930 8661).

The Brontes

Charlotte, Emily and Anne lived in Haworth, a windswept, rugged place in North Yorkshire. In The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne describes, in some detail, the horrors of her brother's drinking binges which, more often than not, began in the nearby Black Bull pub (where a pint of bitter costs pounds 1.67). Thirty minutes walk from the station is the Parsonage (open from 10am to 5pm, entrance pounds 3.80) where they lived; now home to a large collection of their original writings and sketches.

Charles Dickens

London was Dickens' home for a large part of his early life and the inspiration for Bleak House almost certainly came from his years as a clerk in a law firm in Holborn. His home in Doughty Street (0171-405 2127) is open to the public, with its original furnishings, authentic manuscripts and personal letters. A Charles Dickens walking tour of London is run by London Walks (0171-624 3978) and leaves from Temple underground station on Fridays. Adult tickets cost pounds 5 and children under 15 go free.

Dylan Thomas

Thomas was born in the Uplands area of Swansea, and you can still see his house at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, although you can't actually get into it. Instead carry on to the city's Dylan Thomas Centre (01792 463980) to find out more about his life. West of the city is Laugharne, on the south coast of Wales, where Thomas eventually settled with his wife, Caitlin. Look out for their home, the Boat House, which Thomas described as "a seashaken house on a breakneck of rocks".