A Bookworm’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in the United States

I’m sure most of you would agree that preserving things of “historical significance” is important, but as a personal pack rat, my definition is probably a bit broader than most. If I had my way, there would probably be historical plaques on very nearly everything, toting the minute importance of this building and that object. I frequent museums, National Parks, and am particularly fond of historically preserved house tours, like the Downton Abbey-esque Biltmore House and the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace. One brand of house tours I wish I frequented more often is writer’s homes. Reading the biographies of your favorite authors is one thing, but visiting their homes, seeing where they worked, wrote, and were inspired provides a bit of information that you can never extract from author bios. With so much obsession over popular author’s writing rooms (I’m particularly fond of Roald Dahl’s grumpy-old-men writer’s room and writing habits) and bookshelf organization, it’s not hard to understand the draw. Though I haven’t visited most of the 15 Most Beautiful Estates of Famous Authors, I have visited a few.

The Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT

The Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of Uncle Tom's Cabin) house, also in Hartford, CT. It's actually right next door to the Mark Twain house. The museums share a parking lot.

The Emily Dickinson house, Amherst, MA. Her grave is just around the block, and I couldn't resist visiting that either. It's on local tourist maps, but nearly impossible to find!

Added Later: Also, though not technically a writer’s home, when I studied abroad in Egypt in the summer of 2010 (before the protests) I was overly-thrilled when I stumbled upon El Fishawi Café, the famous café in Cairo’s historic marketplace, Khan El-Khalili, where Nobel Prize Laureate Naguib Mahfouz (author of Midaq Alley) frequented and was known to write at upon occasion. While everyone else sipped their delicious fruit drinks and compared souvenir purchases, I stared at my surroundings, slack-jawed.

Next stop? The Edgar Allan Poe house in Philadelphia, a free museum and National Historic Site, and the alleged possible site where the first draft of The Raven was written.

To some, the over-priced admission, high realty listing prices, and general enthusiasm to visit these homes might seem silly, but “there are about fifty-seven writers with houses in their honor open to the public. Several have more than one house museum, bringing the total number of writers’ houses to seventy-three open to the public in the United States.” These houses can’t stay in business–or manage upkeep–if readers didn’t really love them. Which writer’s homes have you visited? Do you have any on your bucket list?

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “A Bookworm’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in the United States

    • hannahkarena says:

      That sounds fabulous! I read The Paris Wife earlier this year and would love to see the differences between all his various writing houses. If I ever get down to Key West [crosses fingers] it’ll be on my list to see!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s