With Covid 19 on the decline, more people will be traveling this summer. If you’re itching to get out and explore, we’ve compiled a list of homes of famous writers and the places that inspired their works for you to visit! Whether you travel by plane, train, or car, we hope you’ll gain some writerly inspiration by following in the footsteps of some of the great authors of America.
Located in spooky Salem, Massachusetts, the House of Seven Gables was the birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne and the inspiration for his 1851 novel of the same name. It is a colonial-era mansion built in 1668 for Captain John Turner. It started out as a two-room, 2 ½ story home that the Turner family added to over the years. Hawthorne likened the writing of his famous novel to the building of a house in letters written to his publisher.
Mark Twain lived and worked in the house from 1874 to 1891 before moving to Europe. Twain wrote his most famous works while living here, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. He considered his years in this home to be the happiest and most productive of his life.
Poe was born in Boston but moved to Baltimore and lived in this home for a short time during the 1830s before eventually settling in Richmond, VA. The house includes some personal effects that belonged to Poe and exhibits about his foster parents and some of his poems and short stories that were written during his time in Baltimore.
Key West, FL
Purchased for Hemingway and his second wife by her uncle in 1931, the home is built in Spanish Colonial style with local rock. It was dilapidated when the couple took ownership, but their renovations made it the beautiful home it is today. Be sure to look for the penny pressed into the cement of the pool patio by the legendary author and the descendants of Hemingway’s six-toed cat that still lives on the estate.
The birthplace and childhood home of John Steinbeck is a restored Queen Anne Victorian built in 1897. The Steinbeck family moved in in 1900. John was born in 1902 and decided to become a writer at the age of 14, often locking himself in his bedroom to compose his poetry and stories. It is now home to a restaurant where you can have lunch Tuesday through Sunday. It is currently closed due to COVID-19 but plans to re-open in August.
This property actually contains TWO homes that were lived in by Laura and Almonzo Wilder. The homes are located on Rocky Ridge Farm. When the Wilders originally purchased the farm in 1894, it had only a one-room log cabin to live in. The family kept adding to it until 1913. The second home is the Rock House, which was built by their daughter, Rose, as a gift to her parents. It is also where Laura wrote her famous “Little House on the Prairie” book series.
Image Credit: Taken by TimothyMN; adjusted as allowed by Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) licensing.
De Smet, SD
This home is the one that inspired the Little House books. Laura lived here with her family for about seven years during the 1880s. The land was free in the Dakota territory, which prompted the Ingalls family to move there.
The home where Hellen Keller was born is called Ivy Green. Once her teacher, Annie Sullivan, was able to teach Helen how to communicate by spelling into her hand at a water pump, Helen quickly learned many other forms of communication. She went on to college and eventually authored 12 autobiographical books. In addition to visiting the home, you can also see a play based on Helen and Annie called “Miracle Worker” performed every summer. The dates for 2021 are June 11 to July 17.
Photo Taken by Daniel Giles of the Times Daily
You can visit the last home that Harriet Beecher Stowe lived in from 1873 until her death in 1896 in Hartford, CT. Stowe is most famous for her anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She was neighbors with another famous writer of the day, Mark Twain, whose home was right next door!
Photo by Todd Van Hoosear
This is the home where Flannery O’Connor spent her childhood during the great depression. She authored two novels and thirty-two short stories in the southern gothic style. Flannery sadly passed away in 1964 at the young age of 39 from Lupus. Her home is one of the few museum houses to be fully restored to the depression era.
Photo by JRempel via Wikimedia Commons
Places Which Inspired Famous Novels
North Bennington, VT
This building inspired Shirley Jackson to pen her horror novel, The Haunting of Hill House, which was published in 1959 and was recently turned into a Netflix series. The structure is home to the Bennington College music department and is sequestered up on a hill, far away from the rest of the campus. Jackson’s husband taught at Bennington while she stayed home, cared for the children, and penned her horror stories.
Photo from Literarybennington.com
Estes Park, CO
A brief stay at the Stanley Hotel, where famed horror author Stephen King and his wife, Tabitha, spent the night in room 217, inspired him to write The Shining. It was the end of the season in 1974 and the hotel was about to close for the winter. The couple were the only guests. That night, King had a nightmare about his son being chased down the corridor by a firehose. The next day, he wrote the outline for The Shining.
This cave was used as inspiration for McDougal’s Cave in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain used to play here as a child growing up in Hannibal, Missouri, and it featured prominently in his writings.