Travel | Visits to literary monuments

By Debi Lander
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Avid readers often become curious about their favorite authors and may enjoy visiting the author’s home or novel sites. Here are a few worth considering.

Ernest Hemingway House and Museum in Key West

Legendary writer Ernest Hemingway lived an adventurous life in Florida and Cuba from 1931 to 1939. Visit his restored Spanish Colonial-style home in Key West, including his writing studio and pool – the first inground pool in the Keys. Guided tours educate visitors about Hemingway’s writing and lifestyle, his six-toed cats, and the pet cemetery. Add in a visit to Sloppy Joe’s Bar in downtown Key West, a Hemingway favorite and just 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 childhood home near St. John the Baptist Cathedral in historic Savannah. Each room of her former home has been restored to the Depression era, providing an insight into the childhood of one of America’s greatest short story writers. She later moved to Andalusia, a family farm near Eatonton, Georgia, when she was diagnosed with Lupus. You can take a tour of this farm, where she lived until she died in 1964.

In Savannah, fans of John Berendt’s bestseller “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” enjoy the non-fiction locations of a mysterious murder and trial. The brooding city becomes as much a character in his story as the other memorable personalities. Don’t miss a tour of the Mercer Williams House, full of remarkable antiques, and a stroll among the Spanish moss-covered live oaks and funeral statues at Bonaventure Cemetery.

Carl Sandburg’s House: Connemara Farms in Flat Rock, NC

Known as the “poet of the people,” Carl Sandburg lived from 1878 to 1967. Sandberg wrote several books, including a biography of Lincoln, children’s books, and poetry. He won three Pulitzer Prizes. His mansion sits on 270 acres in western North Carolina, now a National Historic Site. You have to hike up to the hilltop house, but it’s a fascinating place that feels like he and his wife lived there yesterday. His office is overflowing with paperwork, books, artwork and personal artifacts. The upstairs bedrooms and the clothes on display take you back to the fifties. Sandburg’s wife raised prize-winning goats, and visitors, especially children, are thrilled to see the descendants of her herd of dairy goats at the barn.

William Faulkner’s home: Rowan Oak in Mississippi

William Faulkner, a proliferative author and Nobel laureate, was from Oxford, Mississippi. His beloved home, Rowan Oak, offers visitors a glimpse into his private life. The large colonnaded Greek Revival house sits at the end of a tree-lined path. On a wall in his office hangs a pencil sketch of a novel, like a storyboard, and his typewriter. You can follow Oxford’s Faulkner Trail to visit other city attractions that have been dubbed ‘the cultural mecca of the south’.

Zora Neale Hurston’s home in Florida

Fort Pierce, Florida, near Port St. Lucie on the East Coast, features the two-bedroom home 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 accomplishments.

Other southern literary landmarks include the Marjorie K. Rawlings homestead nestled among citrus groves in Florida’s Cross Creek State Park. The Thomas Wolfe Home and Visitor Center is located in Asheville, NC, and the home of Margaret Mitchell, author of “Gone with the Wind,” is located in Atlanta. My list could be extended, but I’d like to hear from reader visits to literary attractions.

Visit www.bylandersea.com for more stories and travel tips from local travel writer Debi Lander.

Photo courtesy of Debi Lander

Key West: Hemingway office.

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