Travel | Visits to Literary Landmarks
By Debi Lander
Avid readers often become curious about their favorite authors and may enjoy a visit to the author’s home or sites from a novel. Here are a few worth considering.
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West
Legendary writer Ernest Hemingway lived an adventurous life in Florida and Cuba during 1931 – 1939. Visit his restored Spanish Colonial-style house in Key West, including his writing studio and swimming pool — the first in-ground pool in the Keys. Guided tours inform visitors about Hemingway’s writing and lifestyle, his six-toed cats, and the pet cemetery. Add a visit to Sloppy Joe’s Bar in downtown Key West, a favorite of Hemingway and as colorful as the author.
Savannah: Flannery O’Connor’s Childhood Home and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Flannery O’ Connor grew up in her family home near St. John the Baptist Cathedral in historic Savannah. Each room of her former house has been restored to the Depression era, presenting insights into the childhood of one of America’s greatest short story writers. She later moved to Andalusia, a family farm near Eatonton, Georgia, when diagnosed with Lupus. You can tour this farmhouse, where she lived until she died in 1964.
In Savannah, fans of John Berendt’s bestseller “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” relish seeing the sites from the non-fiction story of a mysterious murder and trial. The sultry city becomes as much a character in his tale as the other memorable personalities. Don’t miss touring the Mercer Williams House, filled with notable antiques, and walking among the Spanish moss-laden live oaks and funeral statuary in Bonaventure Cemetery.
Carl Sandburg’s Home: Connemara Farms in Flat Rock, NC
Carl Sandburg, known as the “Poet of the People,” lived from 1878 – 1967. Sandberg authored a variety of books, including a biography of Lincoln, children’s books, and poetry. He won three Pulitzer Prizes. His country house sits on 270 acres in western North Carolina, now a National Historic Site. You must hike to the hilltop house, but it’s a fascinating place that feels like he and his wife lived there yesterday. His office overflows with paperwork, books, artwork, and personal artifacts. The upstairs bedrooms and displayed clothing take you back to the 1950s. Sandburg’s wife raised prize-winning goats, and visitors, especially children, adore seeing the descendants of her dairy goat herd near the barn.
William Faulkner’s Home: Rowan Oak in Mississippi
William Faulkner, a proliferate author, and Nobel Prize winner, hailed from Oxford, Mississippi. His beloved home, Rowan Oak, offers visitors a peek into his private life. The large columned Greek Revival house rests at the end of a tree-lined path. One wall in his office includes a penciled outline of a novel, like a storyboard, and his typewriter. You can follow Oxford’s Faulkner Trail to visit other sites in the city dubbed “the Cultural Mecca of the South.”
Zora Neale Hurston’s Home in Florida
Fort Pierce, Florida, near Port St. Lucie on the eastern coast, showcases the two-bedroom house of Zora Neale Hurston, playwright, and anthropologist best known for her novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Follow the Dust Tracks Heritage Trail to learn more about this African American storyteller and her achievements.
Other literary landmarks in the South include the Marjorie K. Rawlings homestead nestled amongst citrus groves in Cross Creek State Park, Florida. The Thomas Wolfe Home and Visitor Center is in Asheville, NC, and Margaret Mitchell’s house, author of “Gone with the Wind,” is in Atlanta. My list could go on, but I’d love to hear of readers’ visits to literary attractions.
Visit www.bylandersea.com to read more of local travel writer Debi Lander’s stories and travel tips.
Photo courtesy Debi Lander
Key West: Hemingway Office.