Home Sweet Home

It would stand to reason that my husband and I, avid readers and road trip fanatics, might bring these two loves together and plan an epic journey–an odyssey, really–to visit famous literary sights across the country.  We wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find places to visit; the homes of many famous American authors are now turning tidy profits as museums.

But this inspired idea didn’t strike me until today.

In 2008, instead of visiting the home of Mark Twain (adulthood home in Hartford, CT, childhood home in Hannibal, MO–both are museums), we lined up to pay homage at the home of another famous American…Elvis Presley.  Neither of us are Elvis fans–I was 3 when he died–but a strange Elvis-fever afflicts all visitors to Memphis, and we were not immune.

Which is how we found ourselves parting with obscene amounts of cash to tour Graceland.  Elvis-fever was particularly strong with me, bestowing powers of coercion that a Svengali might envy.  I sweet-talked Anthony into upgrading our paltry Mansion Tour tickets to the Graceland Platinum Tour.  Sadly, he balked at the Elvis Presley Entourage VIP tickets ($69 plus tax).

It’s lamentable that after leaving Memphis, we drove south to New Orleans without stopping in Oxford, MS to see Rowan Oak, home of author William Faulkner.

Last year’s trip borders on negligence when you consider that we meandered south from Vermont through Massachusetts on Route 91, a stone’s throw from the homes-turned-museums of Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, and Edith Wharton.  At home, we’re only three hours from Baltimore, an easy drive to a house-turned-museum where Edgar Allan Poe lived while in his 20s.

So why don’t we try to absorb some literary culture by visiting these museums?

To be honest, I’m afraid they’ll be reminiscent of the “museums” my dad used to drag my sister and me to when we were kids.  Dad had two requirements for these outings: they had to be educational and free.  We were often the only visitors to the musty, one-room exhibits and my father would prattle away with the museum employee while my sister and I reconnoitered for rusty forks or sharp implements to poke into our eyeballs.

We grew up less than an hour from New York City and Philadelphia, so it wasn’t that world-class museums and art galleries were out of driving distance, they were just out of my miserly dad’s budget.

Based on the beautifully designed websites, it would seem that homes of famous authors pull in serious money.  Have you ever visited a literary landmark or author’s home? If so, I’m eager to hear if it’s worth the time and money.  Summer’s almost here and I wouldn’t want to squander my vacation fund on another trip to Dollywood if Rowan Oak is all that the website promises!

16 Comments

  • At 2010.03.17 07:09, trek said:

    I can’t say that I have but have you read the Literary Tour series by Lvia J Washburn? (http://www.liviawashburn.com/literary.htm)

    I did visit the Ringling Brothers museum in Sarasota (http://www.ringling.org/CircusMuseums.aspx) many years ago. It was great and it is free on Mondays ;o)
    .-= trek´s last blog ..In which trek reviews     Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:     Dawn of the Dreadfuls =-.

    • At 2010.03.17 08:15, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

      Well, now I feel old – I was 18 when Elvis died. I have to tell you, I’ve always secretly wanted to go to Graceland and I’m not an Elvis fan either.

      • At 2010.03.17 08:58, Colleen (Books in the City) said:

        I would definitely go to Graceland if I visited Graceland – it seems like something that you shouldn’t miss there!

        Author’s homes . . . .I have been to Hemingway’s house in Key West which was interesting but a little creepy especially with the cats with the extra toes! As a child, I visited Louisa May Alcott’s home outside Boston. I can’t comment on whether it was worth the money because I visited at a time when I had no concept of that but I do cherish the memory!
        .-= Colleen (Books in the City)´s last blog ..Sunday Salon 3/14/10: Reading with Small Fry =-.

        • At 2010.03.17 09:47, Kari said:

          Man oh man, I am so jealous of your roadtrip right now. I’ve been dying to go on a hardcore roadtrip for a couple years now.

          I’m ashamed to say I’m from Tennessee and have never been to Graceland, nor ever even been to Memphis. For shame.
          .-= Kari´s last blog ..Review: A Roman Holiday =-.

          • At 2010.03.17 10:02, Steph said:

            When I was in England, my friend and I took an epic busride in order to visit Jane Austen’s home, and that was definitely worth it. It was so nice to see where she wrote and grew up, and we were the only visitor’s to boot! I’ve also visited Shakespeare’s home in Stratford, and that was also fun, though far more touristy.

            I think the key for me is not simply to visit author’s homes for the sake of visiting an author’s home – I only seek out those authors whom I dearly love and feel a special connection with to begin with.
            .-= Steph´s last blog ..“The Sea, The Sea” by Iris Murdoch =-.

            • At 2010.03.17 10:11, vivienne said:

              I haven’t as of yet, but I do hope to visit Charles Dickens house later this year. I would love to visit the Brontes house, as well as Jane Austens’. We have a house local to us, where JM Barrie used to live around the time he wrote Peter Pan.
              .-= vivienne´s last blog ..The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds =-.

              • At 2010.03.17 13:58, Ti said:

                I’ve thought about taking a literary tour but my family would groan if I even attempted to do something like that. My daughter is still young enough where being with mom is cool, so I could drag her along with me but The Hub and The Boy?? Never! They would stand outside texting me, telling me to get a move on.

                I checked out the site for Rowan Oak. OMG. I would love to visit.
                .-= Ti´s last blog ..Winners! =-.

                • At 2010.03.17 15:53, Southern Cousin said:

                  Are you kidding me? All my kids have been talking about is Dollywood since you sent us the postcard.

                  We love Asheville, NC – we visit several times a year. Have not been to the Thomas Wolfe home-museum yet. Only one dolla!!

                  http://www.wolfememorial.com/

                  • At 2010.03.17 17:25, Florinda said:

                    It’s only visitors to Memphis who get Graceland fever, not residents. I lived in Memphis for 10 years, and went there once – when I had out-of-town visitors. But I returned there 3 years ago for a visit with my husband, and he HAD to see Graceland, so I went again. I hope that’s it. But if you do get the chance, it really should be seen.

                    I spent an afternoon hanging out in the town square in Oxford, MS once (Square Books!), but didn’t go to Rowan Oak. Since I’m so NOT a Faulkner fan, it didn’t seem right.

                    When I was about 11, I dragged my family to tour Louisa May Alcott’s house in Concord during a trip to Boston, but I can’t think of any other literary sites I’ve visited deliberately.
                    .-= Florinda´s last blog ..A Flock of Readers for THE SPARROW: A discussion in progress =-.

                    • At 2010.03.17 21:08, Jenners said:

                      I know we visited Salem, MA when I was a kid … but I hadn’t read “The Crucible” at that point. I would love to visit Prince Edward Island and check out Anne’s home … but other than that, I don’t think I’ve visited any.
                      .-= Jenners´s last blog ..Review: "If the Church Were Christian" by Philip Gulley =-.

                      • At 2010.03.18 00:45, bybee said:

                        About 10 years ago, I went to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home in Mansfield, Missouri. It’s actually 2 homes: the house Laura and Almanzo built and another home nearby that their daughter, Rose, built for them. They lived in Rose’s home for a year or so, then decided they preferred their old place.
                        .-= bybee´s last blog ..Their Eyes Were Watching God =-.

                        • At 2010.03.18 12:26, nicole langan said:

                          I love to tour and go onthe road, wish i had more time to do it!

                          • At 2010.03.20 10:40, Beth F said:

                            Many times — in the U.S. and in Canada and Europe and the UK. I also visit cemeteries. I’ve never been to Graceland though.
                            .-= Beth F´s last blog ..Weekend Cooking: Chocolate Raspberry Squares =-.

                            • At 2010.03.21 13:16, Lisa said:

                              My dad was an American History teacher and both of my parents loved the Civil War–I think I can probably top you on the number of museums you visited and the amount of time your dad spent talking to the curators. We did get to go to some great places, like Monticello where my dad disappeared when he coerced an employee into letting him go up to the second floor which is strictly off limits to visitors. Given the amount of reading my parents do, I think the only author home we ever visited was Mark Twain’s home in Hannibal.
                              .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Sunday Salon – March 21 =-.

                              • At 2010.03.22 20:35, softdrink said:

                                I’ve been to Shakespeare’s home in Stratford on Avon, but that’s it. Except I did visit the house in Savannah where the murder featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil occurred.

                                • At 2010.03.24 11:11, Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) said:

                                  I haven’t been to a literary home since leaving MA…but I would love to visit some more now that I am in DC….I think I should make a trek to Baltimore for POe!
                                  .-= Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)´s last blog ..Call for Bloggers to Celebrate National Poetry Month in April =-.

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