Top Literary Landmarks to Visit in the U.S.

Top Literary Landmarks to Visit in the U.S.

American literature has really grown the past three centuries. The country’s writers are known for starting all sorts of movements such as Romanticism, Transcendentalism, Realism and so on. This very country inspired much of the literature and writers. If you want to see what moved the great American writers, check out these top literary landmarks!

Emily Dickinson Garden | Amherst, MA
While she was alive, Emily Dickinson was more famous as a gardener than as a poet. Her garden provided her with inspiration. In fact, over a third of her poems tie in plants from her garden. You can tour her Amherst home and walk in the famous garden.

Walden Pond | Concord, MA
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” This quote is featured on a wooden sign on the trail that leads to the home Henry David Thoreau built himself. Thoreau resided here for two years, two months and two days. The house is a 10-foot-by-15-foot, English-style cabin in the middle of the woods near Walden Pond. It is here that Thoreau wrote Walden or Life in the Woods.

The Old Manse | Concord, MA
Nearby the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired, but that isn’t what makes this manse well known. Rather, it is because of its famous inhabitants: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The property had been in the Emerson family for many years before Nathaniel Hawthorne and his newly wed wife, Sophia, moved in. The couple etched poems to each other in the windowpanes. Emerson wrote his famous essay “Nature” and Hawthorne dedicated Mosses from an Old Manse to honor the house.

Hemingway House | Key West, FL
Although he was born in Oak Park, Illinois, Ernest Hemingway called Key West home. Hemingway lived in the Spanish Colonial style home for more than 10 years. The Hemingway House features a massive pool. At the time it was built, it was the only pool within 100 miles. Another unique feature of this house are the residents: six-toed cats. Hemingway was given a six-toed cat by a ship captain, and today, descendants of the cat still roam the house.

T.S. Eliot House | St. Louis, MO
Eliot lived here for about one year before leaving to study. In the time he spent here, Eliot wrote his first poem at age 15 for a school assignment. It was later published in the Harvard Advocate. If you are a big fan and have wanted to live here, you just missed your chance! The house was recently sold for $645,000. But it will not be forgotten that Eliot lived here. Two plaques celebrate the house as a literary landmark.

Mark Twain’s Birthplace | Florida, MO
Although the town of Florida is abandoned today, it is home to a famous literary landmark: the birthplace of Mark Twain. The two-room rented cabin that Samuel Clemens was born in is now part of a museum honoring him. The museum contains first editions of his works, much of his furniture, and a handwritten version of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

1014 Dumaine St. | New Orleans, LA
Tennessee Williams called New Orleans his “spiritual home.” This city inspired famous works such as A Streetcar Named Desire. Williams owned several apartments in New Orleans before settling down into his permanent address at 1014 Dumaine St. Williams once said he wanted to die in his sleep “in this beautiful big brass bed in my New Orleans apartment.”

Union Stockyard Gate in Chicago, ILUnion Stockyard Gate | Chicago, IL
Formerly known as the “hog butcher of the world”, this gate marked the entrance to the Chicago meatpacking district. Inside the gate, were the secrets of the lack of sanitation in this business. The Jungle, written by Upton Sinclair, documented what exactly was occurring behind the scenes. Sinclair went undercover to reveal the truths about the unfair labor conditions in the meatpacking business, but instead the public became aware of the unsanitary conditions of the meat. When referring to The Jungle, he famously said, “I had aimed for the public’s heart but instead hit its stomach.”

Photo Credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism and Laurie Chipps via cc