Literary travel: visit the homes of 6 American authors

Stairway bird's eye view at Carl Sandburg's house of front hallway magazine piles (photo by Sheila Scarborough)To really get inside the head and life of an author, it’s tough to beat a visit to their home.

You can visualize and imagine, “She sat at that desk, he looked out that window while mulling plot twists….”

Here are some ideas for your next trip; six writers whose homes you may want to walk through and enjoy:

**  Carl Sandburg – The Sandburg house in Flat Rock, North Carolina is called Connemara; the setting is lovely and inspiring, and the house is nicely preserved with his mementos and nice piles of paper, books and writer-y stuff.  I didn’t know much about Sandburg when I visited, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked his work.

**  Helen Keller – Her Ivy Green birthplace in Tuscumbia, Alabama is full of memorabilia (including, yes, the water pump) plus displays of her books in multiple languages. It’s well worth a visit, and in June and July you can see live performances of the play The Miracle Worker, about the start of life with her Teacher, Annie Sullivan.

**  Laura Ingalls Wilder – As any reader of the Little House series will tell you, the pioneer Ingalls family lived all over the Midwest, so it’s hard to pick just one place to get a sense of her writings. Try her final home (where the books were written) at the Little House on Rocky Ridge in Mansfield, Missouri, the site of the original “little house” (the one on the prairie) near Independence, Kansas or her Little Town on the Prairie home in De Smet, South Dakota.

**  John Steinbeck – the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California not only celebrates the writer’s works like Grapes of Wrath and Cannery Row, but also the surrounding agricultural region and its heritage through exhibitions and educational programming. The four-day Steinbeck Festival for 2011 is scheduled for August 4 – 7.

**  Mark Twain – You have some choices here: his lovely house and museum in Hartford, Connecticut where he wrote famous works like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, or his award-winning Hannibal, Missouri boyhood home, near the banks of the Mississippi River that he loved and that inspired so many of his writings.

**  Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings – The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Yearling and Cross Creek lived in her north central Florida Cracker farmhouse near Gainesville for 25 years; today it’s a National Historic Landmark and a Florida State Park, preserved as it was in the 1930s. On the back porch where she typed, it looks as though she’s just stepped away for a moment to tend to her orange grove.

Where are your favorite author homes to visit? Please tell us down in the comments!

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