9 Literary Landmarks Every Book Lover Has to Visit This Summer
Want to take a truly bookish tour of the U.S.? From the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst to the Edgar Allen Poe home in Baltimore, these literary landmarks are definitely worth a visit.
Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum—Key West, FL
For 10 years the pipe-smoking, bull-running writer who penned such classics as For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea lived in a quaint, colonial house on Key West. Hemingway purchased the house in 1931 while on a trip to Key West, and moved there later that year with his wife and two sons. Today, you can visit the breezy, sun-filled home and its adjacent garden while taking a guided tour on your literary road trip; the staff is happy to tell you more about Ernest Hemingway than you ever wanted to know!
J.R.R. Tolkien Collection at Marquette University Libraries—Marquette, MI
Fans of The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings trilogy will love this one. The Raynor Memorial Libraries at Marquette University holds several documents from the celebrated Tolkien, including original manuscripts and drafts of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, complete with maps and artwork associated with the first printing of The Hobbit. Visitors to these library holdings will come away with new knowledge and appreciation of the feats of one of fiction’s favorite writers. (Which character from The Hobbit are you?)
Mark Twain House & Museum—Hartford, CT
No American writer has been more celebrated than Samuel Clemens, better know by his pen name, Mark Twain. Despite his celebrity status worldwide, Clemens kept a quiet family life in his large Hartford home, where he wrote many of his greatest books, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Visitors can walk through the study where Clemens did his writing, learn more about the man and his life, and watch a mini-documentary by Ken Burns at the museum. The Autobiography of Mark Twain is one of a handful of great autobiographies that are worth a read.
Edgar Allan Poe House—Baltimore, MD
Edgar Allan Poe’s stories and poems have delighted and terrified readers for generations. The author of The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, and many other works of horror, Poe died of mysterious causes at age 40 in a small brick house in Baltimore, right at the height of his career. The house is open for visitors Thursday to Sunday each week, with rotating exhibits and guided tours available.
Fitzgerald Museum—Montgomery, AL
The individual lives of both F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were filled with tragedy and intrigue—and their romance was even more so. The last house that the couple lived in together is in Zelda’s hometown of Montgomery, where the two lived for several years before their estrangement, followed by Scott’s death at the young age of 44. You can learn more about the Fitzgeralds’ tragic, fiery romance and literary accomplishments at the Fitzgerald Museum during your literary road trip. Here’s a sneak peek of a love letter Fitzgerald wrote to Zelda.
Emily Dickinson Museum—Amherst, MA
There is arguably no American poet more esoteric and mysterious than Emily Dickinson. Totally unknown during her lifetime, Dickinson’s poems have become cherished pieces of the poetic canon since her death. The reclusive writer lived in Amherst her entire life, spending most of it on The Homestead, where the Emily Dickinson Museum is now located. Fans of Emily Dickinson will love getting to see where the writer spent her days and wrote her poems. One of Dickinson’s more touching quotes about nature wound up on our 50 Most Beautiful Quotes About Nature list.
Folger Shakespeare Library—Washington, D.C.
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., houses 82 copies of the Shakespeare First Folio, the text that scholars agree is the most reliable source material for Shakespeare’s plays. Besides this, the Folger’s collections hold examples of early printed books from the 10th to the 17th centuries, illuminated manuscripts, as well as playbills, promptbooks, and other paper performance ephemera. Those interested in the history of early English literature and art will greatly enjoy a trip through the Folger Library. These are the most impressive libraries in every state.
Flannery O’Connor Home—Savannah, GA
The patron saint of American Gothic literature, Flannery O’Connor wrote the award-winning story A Good Man Is Hard to Find and the novel Wise Blood. Growing up in the South had a big impact on O’Connor’s writing: She said herself, “Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.” Savannah, in particular, is known as one of the most haunted places in America. Visiting O’Connor’s childhood home is an important stop on any literary tour.
Carousel Bar & Lounge at Hotel Monteleone—New Orleans, LA
The Hotel Monteleone has seen countless literary giants walk through its doors, most notably Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and William Faulkner. The whimsical spinning carousel bar has appeared in many films and works of fiction, including Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending, Eudora Welty’s A Curtain of Green, and Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers. These and many other writers spent time drinking and dancing to live bands at Hotel Monteleone—wouldn’t you like to do the same? These are the most iconic books set in every state.