The United States is actually dotted with quite a few really influential houses when it comes to really influential authors, a road-trip worthy feature of our country that often times gets overlooked in search of culinary hot spots or popular cultural festivals.
Any literature lover can tell you, however, that visiting one of these American Authors’ Homes yourself is a truly unique experience, one that sticks with your literature-loving brain for quite some time. From the history and unique architecture to the furniture and authentic artifacts, each of these houses presents some special feature that helps unlock the mysteries behind some of that author’s greatest works, most of these homes being the birthplace of literary masterpieces.
Here are the Top 10 American Authors’ Homes that we think you need to visit today!
- Walt Whitman - Camden, NJ
Walt Whitman’s home in New Jersey is possibly the very definition of ‘hole in the wall’, the comparably small home in the midst of tall neighbor homes a 2 frame home bought for only 1,750 after the publication of highly popular novel Leaves of Grass. Whitman himself called this home his ‘little shanty’, something you will learn all about during a free guided tour of the property upon visitation.
- Mark Twain House and Museum - Hartford, CT
Perhaps one of the most popular American author homes may have to be the Mark Twain House and Museum, located in Hartford, Connecticut (like many other literary homes, as you will see). This Victorian Gothic home was important to the entire Clemens family, the 19th-century property the site of the birth of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, as well as nightly family story night in the nook. It’s easy to see why this Tiffany decorated home was said by Twain himself to ‘have a heart, and a soul, and eyes to see us with’.
- Emily Dickinson Museum and Homestead - Amherst, CT
There is still much mystery surrounding Emily Dickinson and her famous Homestead in Amherst, but this is something you can see for yourself as you explore the large, pleasant, and bright property grounds. Many of Dickinson’s 1800 poems were written here, in her bedroom to be precise, though only 12 of those 1800 were originally published. Enjoy the vibrant colors, big windows, and high ceilings as you see what it was like for the famous poet herself.
- William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak - Oxford, MS
Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s famed Oxford home in Mississippi, is a gorgeous Greek Revival home that he purchased in the 1930’s. Faulkner spent over 3 decades updating and renovating the property himself, as well as writing several of his famous novels such as As I lay Dying and the Sound of Fury. You can see for yourself the Underwood typewriter used in his prime (blog cover photo), as well as a manuscript of A Fable, etched into his study walls.
- Ernest Hemingway - Key West, FL
Though many people may first think of his Havana home first, Ernest Hemingway had just as much success and memories placed in his Cuban-influenced Key West home, as well. Here in this 19th century Spanish Colonial you will find several authentic Spanish antiques, family furniture, and even the Royal typewriter Hemingway loved to use. This is the iconic spot in which For Whom the Bell Tolls and Green Hills were written, and outside you will have the added bonus of being greeted by 40-50 feral cats said to have 6 toes, as Hemingway’s own favorite cat did.
- Emerson and Hawthorne's Old Manse - Concord, MA
Old Manse is definitely up there as one of the most famous literary homes in the United States, this house in Concord being a favorite stay for Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as a long-time home for Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife. The American Transcendentalist Movement began here during a period in which Emerson wrote his now famous Nature piece, and even Henry David Thoreau got in on the action at this house, doing the landscaping outside for his dear newlywed Hawthorne friends.
- Harriet Beecher Stowe Center - Hartford, CT
Another Connecticut classic home we can’t leave out of our list belongs to the author of the highly acclaimed American classic Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and Museum. This is the home that Stowe bought with her royalties from the wildly popular book, though today it is mostly known for its frequent features on popular ‘haunted’ TV shows, such as SyFy’s Ghost Hunters. Is it really haunted, though? See for yourself!
- Laura Ingalls Wilder - Mansfield, MO
A personal favorite of ours, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Farm in Mansfield, Missouri. This beautifully rustic Missouri classic home is where Laura began all of her famously beloved stories, at the young age of 65. It will be easy to see where all of her natural inspiration came from during her writing as you take a guided tour of the home and grounds, the entire property a great testament to the woman and her life.
- Edgar Allan Poe Cottage - Bronx, NY
Get into the New York state of mind for this next literary must-stop, a small cottage in the Bronx owned by Mr. Edgar Allan Poe himself. This comparably small home has comparably large memories held within it, this being the very spot where the famed Annabel Lee was written, as well as the spot in which Poe’s wife died in bed, the bed viewable during a tour of the place still today. This is a definite must-see for literature lovers!
- Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables - Salem, MA
You’ve had to have heard, or hopefully read, about The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, but did you know you that this is a real place you can actually visit in Salem, Massachusetts? That’s right, you can see for yourself the ‘rusty, wooden house’ with the iconic gables that inspired one of the most popular American novels of its time, both the novel and the home a complete Gothic masterpiece you won’t regret coming to see.