'Dylan Thomas drank here' reads a sign outside Brown's Public House in Laugharne, South Wales. This, as those who know anything about the writer will be aware, hardly ranks as a claim to fame: one wonders if there was any pub in that part of the world which did not make a profit from the poet's legendary thirst. But to the thousands of tourists armed with the Blue Guide (Ousby 1990a) or The Oxford Guide to Literary Britain and Ireland (Eagle et al.1993) who every year make their pilgrimage to the birthplaces, graves, houses and haunts of their literary heroes, such sites provide access to a rich cultural experience, an opportunity to partake in rites of initiation and to experience in the flesh the mysterious workings of the creative mind. 'Listen for the nightingales in John Keats' garden' (Literature Comes to Life 1997). 'Run your fingers over the polished oak of Jane Austen's writing table'. With such promises the tourist industry lures prospective customers into a world of magic and genius, properties that, one assumes, are somehow absorbed together with the air and atmosphere of the locality and for which, incidentally, the Australian tourist must be prepared to part with approximately $8000.