Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pubs for readers

There used to be a bar in my town called Third Base. Under the name were the words: "Last stop before home." For American bars, that's just about as original as it gets. Most U.S. bars have fairly simple names on the order of Joe's Place.

In Great Britain and Ireland, almost every pub seems to be named something so unique tourists are tempted to stop and take pictures of the signs, and many of them yield to that temptation. I know I did when I was there in 2005.

At a used book sale in Clearwater, Fla., several weeks ago, I found the 1994 edition of The Wordsworth Dictionary of Pub Names, and I've been leafing through it ever since. Here you can find descriptions of such places as Fiery Fred, named for a cricket bowler, Spanking Roger and the Fox and Flower Pot. Those pubs sound like they'd be fun even before the drinking starts.

I thought it might be interesting to sort out some of the British pubs with literary names. There are many more than I expected, so this list is by no means complete.

Pubs named for writers: Andrew Marvell, Boswell Arms, Charles Dickens, Conan Doyle, Doctor Johnson, Edgar Wallace, George Eliot, Henry Fielding, John Clare, Jules Verne, Keats, Mark Twain, Milton's Head, Macaulay Arms, Robert Burns, Rupert Brooke, Samuel Pepys, Samuel's (Samuel Johnson), Shakespeare, Sheridan, Sir Richard Steele, Sir Walter Scott, Trollope Arms, Yeats.

Pubs named for literary works: Ancient Mariner, Antiquary, Beau Geste, Black Beauty, Black Tulip (novel by Alexandre Dumas), Bleak House, Blue Lagoon, Canterbury Arms, Goldfinger, Good Companions (novel by J.B. Priestly), Greenmantle, Hustler, Ivanhoe, Kenilworth Tavern, Lorna Doone, Magician's Nephew, Moby Dick, Moon and Sixpence, Moonraker, Moonstone, Our Mutual Friend, Rubaiyat, Scarlet Pimpernel, Scholar Gipsy (poem by Matthew Arnold), Shropshire Lad, Three Men in a Boat, Trumpet Major, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Vicar of Wakefield, Waverly, Walrus and Carpenter, Witch and the Wardrobe, Wuthering Heights, Westward Ho! (novel by Charles Kingsley).

Pubs named for literary characters: Alan Breck (from Kidnapped), Artful Dodger, Barnaby Rudge, Betsy Trotwood, Bilbo Baggins, Brigadier Gerard (a famous racehorse but also a character of Arthur Conan Doyle), Cheshire Cat, Dandie Dinmont, David Copperfield, Eliza Doolittle, Gunga Din's Colonial Inn, Hobbit, Hornblower, Jack and Jill, Jeannie Deans, Jekyll and Hyde, John Bunyan, John Gilpan (from a poem by WIlliam Cowper), John Jorrocks, Lady of Shalott, Long John Silver, Minstrel Boy, Miranda (from The Tempest), Mister Micawber, Moriarty's, Mother Hubbard, Nickleby's, Oliver Twist, Peggotty's, Pickwick, Robinson Crusoe, Rob Roy, Rumples (named for Rumpelstiltskin), Sherlock Holmes, Tom Sawyer's Tavern, Wee Willie Winkie, White Knight, Widow of Bath.

Other: Bookbinders Arms, Conquering Hero (from a line in a poem by Thomas Morell), Dangling Prussian (a name for an inn suggested by Sherlock Holmes), Mortal Man (from a line by Shakespeare).

I'd love to walk into any of those places and hoist a pint of Diet Dr Pepper.

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