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Visiting the Homes of Famous American Authors
Touring Famous Authors' Houses in the United States
I can't remember a time when I didn't love to read--I've turned to books for entertainment, solace, and new experiences. Literature especially has held a place in my heart--enjoying a story that's been loved, debated, and discussed by entire generations of readers before you forges a special kind of connection to the human race.
Often, when you really love a story, your appreciation doesn't stop at the last written page--you want to know more about the author, and his or her life, influences, and inspirations. A biography can suffice as a source of learning, but visiting the house where your favorite author wrote, walked, and lived can both connect you with the author and give you a better understanding of his or her work.
Top houses of famous authors to visit in America include Mark Twain's house in Mississippi, Ernest Hemingway's house in Florida, and the houses of Lousia May Alcott and Edith Wharton, both in Massachusetts.
Mark Twain's House in Hartford, Connecticut
If your favorite author is Mark Twain, then his house in Hartford, Connecticut is a must-visit. Twain and his family lived in the ornate home from 1874 to 1891, and during his years there Twain penned several of his most famous books, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
It's a veritable mansion--11,500 square feet and 25 rooms--and sumptuously decorated inside by Tiffany & Co's Associated Artists.
The Mark Twain House & Museum is located at 351 Farmington Avenue in Hartford, Connecticut and is open seven days a week; you can view it on guided tours only.
Ernest Hemingway's House in Key West, Florida
Ernest Hemingway pioneered a distinctly American, masculine style of writing--short, pared down sentences that nonetheless pack a strong visual and emotional punch. The man himself was complicated, plagued by self-doubt and alcoholism. However, he was also fascinating, and his house in Key West, Florida is well-preserved and a great way to connect with your favorite author.
Hemingway lived in the Key West house from 1931 to 1940, and highlights of the property include his incredibly expensive (at the time) in-ground limestone swimming pool and the plethora of six-toed cats that live on the property (descendants of his beloved cat Snowball). The house also features original furniture and an original piece of Picasso that Picasso himself gifted to Hemingway.
The Hemingway Home is located at 907 Whitehead Street in Key West, Florida, and is open seven days a week for guided tours or self-guided tours.
Louisa May Alcott's House in Concord, Massachusetts
There are few books more beloved than Little Women, Louisa May Alcott's tale of family life and growing up set during the Civil War. Alcott wrote and set the novel at Orchard House, her family's home in Concord, Massachusetts, where they lived from 1858 to 1877.
The house features roughly 80% of the Alcotts' furnishings from the period when they inhabited the house, so you can really get a feel for how Alcott lived and the surroundings that informed and inspired her writing.
Orchard House is located at 399 Lexington Road in Concord, Massachusetts, and is open year-round.
Edith Wharton's House in Lenox, Massachusetts
Arguably one of the most impressive author's homes in America, Edith Wharton's house (called the Mount) was built in 1902 and designed by Wharton herself. She had a deep, passionate interest in both interior design and gardening, and as such the home where she wrote some of her greatest works is a showplace.
The estate includes not only the mansion and grounds, but also a stable, a greenhouse, and a gatehouse. Henry James, Wharton's good friend and another treasure of American literature, visited and stayed at the Mount, as well.
The Mount is located at 2 Plunkett Street in Lenox, Massachusetts; while the grounds are open to visitors year-round, the house is not open during the off-season.