For literary buffs, entering the same room where Hemingway reconstructed the American novel is something of a spiritual experience. There are dozens of cities around the country where writers penned world-famous, timeless tales. Consider purchasing travel accident insurance before you leave to protect your travel investment, otherwise you might have an awful story to share. Check out these top destinations to see important sites of America’s most prized authors.
Oak Park, Illinois
Ernest Hemingway grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, located only 9 miles from downtown Chicago. Today, visitors can explore the roots of the author’s life in The Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Home, where Ernest lived for six years in the Queen-Anne house built by his maternal grandparents. Take a tour of the boyhood house, or enjoy rare photos of Hemingway, his childhood diary, letters and other early writings at the Ernest Hemingway Museum.
If you want a more mature, balmier view inside the Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning author, consider a trip to the Florida Keys. A registered National Historic Landmark, Hemingway’s Spanish colonial villa at 907 Whitehead Street served as his home for more than 10 years. In the second-story writing studio, he composed many of his best-known works, such as “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Death in the Afternoon” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” Guided tours are offered daily.
Like Hemingway, William Faulkner is one of the most idolized American writers of the 20th century. Check out his home, called Rowan Oak, in Oxford, Mississippi. Originally built in 1844, the property encompasses more than 29 acres of land. One of the most famous features is the outline of Faulkner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “A Fable,” penciled in graphite and red on the plaster wall of his study.
In the French Quarter of New Orleans, Faulkner’s professional writing career began. It was here the author made the switch from poetry to serious fiction. He wrote his first novel “Soldiers’ Pay” and later “Mosquitoes.” Visit the miniature house at 624 Pirate’s Alley – just around the corner from St. Louis Cathedral – which is now the premises of Faulkner House Books and headquarters of the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society.
A literary giant, John Steinbeck is most famous for his books, “Of Mice and Men,” and “The Grapes of Wrath.” The author spent most of his life around Monterey, California. After getting a chronological overview of Steinbeck’s life and times and the National Steinbeck Center, you can discover the real Cannery Row, where he composed a novel of the same name. Stroll along Main Street filled with Art Deco architecture – buildings Nos. 201 and 247 were featured in the novel “East of Eden.” Lastly, head north to Fremont Peak State Park, where Steinbeck’s final visit to Monterey County ended in “Travels with Charley.”
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was born in Hannibal, Missouri, which provided the setting for “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and its sequel “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” the latter often called the Great American novel. Plan a memorable visit to the eight historic buildings that outline his upbringing, including his boyhood home, which is a National Historic Landmark, and two interactive museums whose collections include 15 original Norman Rockwell paintings.
Most renowned for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Harper Lee is among the minority of females regarded as some of the best American authors. Experience her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, that served as inspiration for the classic work. Her neighbor and childhood friend was none other than Truman Capote. Every spring, you can catch a performance of a theatrical rendition of “To Kill a Mockingbird” as well as the exhibits at the Alabama Writers Symposium.
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