The power of words has transcended barriers for centuries. With wordsmiths like Mark Twain, Jack London and Edgar Allen Poe making such a mark on American culture within their writing, it’s only appropriate to pay homage to them and their legacy with a tour of the top five literary spots around the country. Bookmark your next trip now.
Coronado Island, San Diego
The classic book, movie and play, The Wizard of Oz, wouldn’t have seen the light of day if it weren’t for the place where the idea for Emerald City was conceived. Welcome to Coronado Island. Off the coast of San Diego, this historical landmark was L. Frank Baum’s main inspiration for the setting, and it’s easy to see why. Visitors can see Baum’s house and explore the iconic Hotel del Coronado, said to be the model for the Emerald City itself.
Most notable for his works The Call of the Wild and White Fang, writer Jack London lived and breathed the life of an American tour de force. His estate, now known as Jack London State Historic Park, allows guests to make the 1.5-mile pilgrimage to London’s gravesite and marvel at the grounds, which include a museum, and his Wolf House and Cottage. Be sure to plan a trip around park events to see a performance under the stars.
John Steinbeck, the man who brought us Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, and won the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize, came from moderate means in Salinas, California. Today, the city thrives as a window into the past, and many are drawn to the area to see where Steinbeck started. Guests can visit his boyhood home, now turned into a restaurant, and take in America as it once was.
You won’t need to drive far around Massachusetts to find the homes of many writers in the 19th century. In Concord, guests can visit the home of Louisa May Alcott, author of the beloved Little Women, and site of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, the burial site for Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
If you want a literary tour of a city on foot, Boston offers great opportunities to visit homes and meeting places of literary geniuses including Charles Dickens and Henry James. Check out Beacon Hill’s Louisburg Square, where many resided, and discover what life was like in the 1800s.
Poets and novelists alike left a profound imprint on the city of Hartford, paving the way for admirers to visit generations later. It was the home of Mark Twain, and visitors can explore his house and learn more about the time and area through the Mark Twain Museum.
Next to Twain’s house is the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. Beecher was the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the book that played an important role in abolishing slavery. Today, the center is designed to help people from all walks of life change the world.
Literary luminaries like Edgar Allen Poe, Upton Sinclair and F. Scott Fitzgerald have all been dubbed residents of Baltimore. Satisfy your inner bookworm in the rich culture of the Mount Vernon neighborhood, said to be the inspiration of many writers and poets of the area. If you plan to visit at the end of September or beginning of October, be sure to visit the Baltimore Book Festival and check out Literary Arts Week, as well as take a guided tour.
If you are an admirer of Tennessee Williams, you’ll adore the Williams Welcome Center, the first home of the great playwright. In the first week of September, the Mississippi University for Women has spearheaded a wonderful tribute and tour for visitors, including a trip to Williams’ childhood home.
Known for The Sound and The Fury among other brilliant works, William Faulkner’s spirit dwells in the city of Oxford. Many pay homage to the great wordsmith by visiting his home, Rowan Oak, which became his sanctuary. If you have time in Oxford, also check out his tombstone and the Thompson-Chandler House, the setting of The Sound of the Fury.