Literary America: Ten Places to Visit for National Author’s Day

Mark your calendars and make some plans!  November 1st is National Author’s Day.  In 1929, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs created the day to honor America’s writers; in 1949, the day was officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Congress. The resolution states, in part, that “[b]y celebrating author’s day as a nation, we would not only show patriotism, loyalty and appreciation of the men and women who have made American literature possible but would also encourage and inspire others to give of themselves in making a better America.”

Most of these historic places are privately staffed or state-run, meaning that even if the government shutdown continues, you should be able to visit these homes, museums, and locations:

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1. Edgar Allan Poe Museum, Richmond, VA

Called “America’s Shakespeare,” Edgar Allan Poe created or mastered the short story, detective fiction, science fiction, lyric poetry and the horror story. His dark genius has invited children and adults to read and love literature for over 150 years.

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2.  Mark Twain Study, Elmira, New York 

Built by Twain’s father-in-law, Twain called this retreat “The Cozy Nest.”  It is located on the campus of Elmira College.  Twain’s grave is also located in the town of Elmira.

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3.  National Steinbeck Center, Salinas, CA 

This interactive, 37,000-square-foot center features seven galleries honoring the Nobel Prize-winning author.  The exhibits include a lettuce boxcar from East of Eden and a re-creation of Steinbeck’s childhood bedroom.

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4.  Walden Pond State Reservation, Concord, Mass

Henry David Thoreau lived at Walden Pond from July 1845 to September 1847. His experience at Walden provided the material for the book Walden, which is credited with helping to inspire awareness and respect for the natural environment. Because of Thoreau’s legacy, Walden Pond has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is considered the birthplace of the conservation movement. Park Interpreters provide tours and ongoing educational programs. The Reservation includes the 102-foot deep glacial kettle-hole pond. Mostly undeveloped woods totaling 2680 acres, called “Walden Woods,” surround the reservation.

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5.  William Faulkner’s “Rowan Oak,” Oxford, MS

Home to William Faulkner and his family for over 40 years, Rowan Oak was originally built in 1844, and stands on over 29 acres of land just south of the Square in Oxford, MS.

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6.  Ingalls Homestead, DeSmet, SD

Welcome to Ingalls Homestead! Pa Ingalls set claim to this quarter section in 1880. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote many of her Little House stories about this land. Plan an old-fashioned family day!

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7.  Jack London State Historic Park, Glen Ellen, CA 

Founded in 1960 with 39 acres including the museum, London’s grave site and the ruins of Wolf House, the park now includes most of London’s holdings and is a National Historic Landmark.

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8.  Hemingway Home, Key West, FL 

Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote here for more than ten years. Calling Key West home, he found solace and great physical challenge in the turquoise waters that surround this tiny island.  Step back in time and visit the rooms and gardens that witnessed the most prolific period of this Nobel Prize winner’s writing career.

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9.  Alex Haley Museum and House, Henning, TN 

The Alex Haley House Museum and Interpretive Center are educational facilities dedicated to the collection, preservation, interpretation, and exhibition of artifacts. The Museum’s comprehensive collections represent the life and achievements of the renowned author Alex Haley. The museum promotes the understanding and appreciation of history by presenting a range of exhibitions, programs, and events for the community and the world.

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10.  The Erskine Caldwell Birthplace and Museum, Moreland, GA

Take a few minutes to stop by the humble, one-story home, dubbed “The Little Manse,”  where Erskine Caldwell (author of Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre) was born.  Personal items such as Caldwells typewriter, childhood books, and his watch, among other personal items, are on display.


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