Friday, July 22, 2011

Traveling Literary America: A Complete Guide to Literary Landmarks by B. J. Welborn

What is a normal response to a knee injury? Read a travel book, of course. After I hurt my knee, I spent several days on the couch with an ice pack, ibuprofen, and a stack of books, including Traveling Literary America: A Complete Guide to Literary Landmarks by B. J. Welborn. I have enjoyed reading one-to-two page descriptions of houses and other sites where our great American authors wrote their poems, novels, and other works. Some I remember, having been to Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House in Concord, the Longfellow House in Cambridge, the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Cincinnati, Mark Twain's childhood home in Hannibal, the O. Henry House in Austin, and most of the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites. Still, there are so many more to see.

Here are my priority sites:

  • The Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut
  • The John Adams Birthplace in Quincy, Massachusetts
  • Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts
  • The Mount (Edith Wharton's home) in Lenox, Massachusetts
  • Stone House Museum (Robert Frost home) in South Shaftbury, Vermont
  • Walt Whitman House in Camden, New Jersey
  • Green Hills Farm (Pearl Buck home) in Perkasie, Pennsylvania
  • Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Eudora Welty House in Jackson, Mississippi
  • Rowan Oak (William Faulkner home) in Oxford, Mississippi
  • Monroeville Courthouse (Harper Lee site) in Monroeville, Alabama
  • Will Rogers Birthplace in Oologah, Oklahoma
  • Jack London Ranch in Glen Ellen, California
  • John Muir House in Martinez, California
  • Steinbeck House in Salinas, California

I notice that this list tilts heavily to the eastern regions, as does the book, but I guess it makes sense. The East has been more populated through much of the country's history and thus has had more famous authors. Not every place I'd like to go was in the book, however. I'd like also to see the Flannery O'Connor house in Milledgeville, Georgia. Still, there are hundreds of sites. My knee needs to keep getting better so I can hit the road.

Welborn, B. J. Traveling Literary America: A Complete Guide to Literary Landmarks. Jefferson Press, 2005. ISBN 0971897425.


Unknown said...

I've been to the Twain house in Hartford and found it to be a dud. The Harriet Beecher Stowe home next door to it is very interesting.

Do get to Jack London's ranch in Glen Ellen. An excellent site. The John Muir home is also interesting. You can do the Dashell Hammet walking tour of San Francisco on the same trip, too. I'm told the Eugene O'Neil home is well worth it, though I've not seen that one. It's in the East Bay.

All in all, a trip to the San Francisco area can be a very literary one. Conan Doyle even lived here for a while, though you can only see the outside of his home.

Oh, and while she's not exactly 'literary', you can see the outside of Danielle Steel's San Francisco home. She owns almost an entire city block in a very expensive neighborhood. It's well worth a look.

ricklibrarian said...

Thanks for the advice, C.B. I'd enjoy seeing them all.

Doris said...

I like this book too. But for me, I just love this one:

Victoria Brooks(Editor): Literary Trips - Following in the Footsteps of Fame.

Jeff Rivera said...

I should visit the Monroeville Courthouse. To Kill a Mockingbird was one of my favorite books growing up. Do you guys think it's worth the trip though?

Susan Bailey said...

Thomas Edison's house in Florida was really fascinating, especially since the light bulbs in the lamps dated back to his time(at least when I was a kid in 1964 :-)) Very cool place.

Orchard House, home of Louisa May Alcott, is a great place to visit too. 80% of the furnishings, etc. are authentically from the Alcotts. I blog about Louisa May Alcott at

laura said...

Walden Pond is very strange -- on the one hand, there are people sunbathing down by the pond itself, and on the other hand, you can walk up the little trail and see the site of Thoreau's cabin.