• Regional highlights of an American literary road trip

    2017-06-02

    There's almost no limit to what the wonders of a great book can do for you - except, of course, physically transport you to the fascinating places explored across the pages of your favorite novels and short story collections. That part you have to handle on your own. But it can certainly be the starting point from which you plan the foundation of your next vacation within the U.S.!

    American literature is highlighted by a number of famous locations, some of which are landmarks and others that are vacation spots unto themselves. If you consider yourself an avid reader or perhaps want to make more room for the literary in your life, consider checking out some of the locales - and the regions containing them - below. Since you're taking a road trip, you only need a good road map to plot your route, but you may still want to consider covering your trip with a travel insurance policy.

    The New England scribblers' division
    Numerous authors have come from the states that comprise New England, representing a wide range of literary eras, forms and genres. Google detailed a fairly comprehensive route that can take drivers through plenty of the region's book-related highlights, including the following:

    • The Mark Twain House, in Hartford, Connecticut - a museum honoring the satirist and tale-spinner behind Huckleberry Finn and countless other characters.
    • Robert Frost Farm, Derry, New Hampshire: Well worth a visit for tours of the iconic American poet's home and farmlands, a hiking trail, readings and other programs.
    • Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts: See the home where the reclusive but genius poet did her best work and the various gardens where she would go for solitude and inspiration.
    • The House of Seven Gables, Salem, Massachusetts: In addition to being the setting of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel of family drama and the supernatural, this site is the oldest 17th century wooden mansion still standing in the region. The museum hosts numerous literary and cultural exhibits - and you'll be in Salem, which is chock-full of other attractions.

    Aside from stops on that route, there's also the H.P. Lovecraft House in Rhode Island - the last home inhabited by the controversial, reclusive horror writer.

    Regional highlights of an American literary road trip
    You could make literary landmarks the highlight of your next road trip.

    Key haunts of a Southern Gothic literary expedition
    The southern U.S. produced some of the most essential novels, poems, short stories and plays in the literary canon of not only America, but the world as well. And you can easily visit the museums that were built up around the houses in which they lived and see the sites - both rural and urban - that helped inform the works for which they are most famous.

    Get started by looking up the Southern Literary Trail board, a nonprofit organization with representatives in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia who help advocate for the legacies of the various writers who stand out so prominently in the region's history. Each of the three states has its own trail for you to use as a starting point.

    • Mississippi: Here, you can visit cities and towns that figure majorly in the lives of Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner and Richard Wright.
    • Alabama: Ralph Ellison, Truman Capote and Harper Lee are arguably the most famous writers Alabama produced, and the towns important to their history - Montgomery, Monroeville and Tuskegee - are relatively close together in the state's southeastern area.
    • Georgia: Flannery O'Connor, Alice Walker and Carson McCullers are Georgia's literary grand dames, and you can visit their homes and museums in Columbus, Milledgeville and Savannah. Also, Atlanta, the most diverse and cosmopolitan city in the American south, is the birthplace of Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind," which inspired one of the best-known American films of all time.

    Savannah, Georgia, is also, in some ways, a literary and artistic attraction unto itself. It has a reputation for eccentricity, and as the setting for John Berendt's bestselling and critically acclaimed part true crime/part travelogue "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" (and the Clint Eastwood-directed film based on that book), the state's oldest city has certainly earned it. In fact, the former home of Jim Williams, the property restorationist around whose trial "Midnight" is based, is one of the metropolis's finest museums.

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