The People Behind the Books: Visiting Author Historic Sites
Wandering through General Lew Wallace’s study and the grounds of his study where he wrote Ben Hur was a fascinating side trip for our family. Wallace fought in the Mexican American War, served as a general in the Civil War, ran for Congress, served as the US Minister Resident to the Ottoman Empire, wrote seven books, worked as an inventor, and served as architect for the "study" he built in 1895. The study is full of the mementoes of his busy life as well as Ben Hur memorabilia. Ben Hur was written as a result of Wallace’s intense study of the Bible spurred by an encounter with an atheist. Wallace who had been indifferent to his Methodist upbringing stated, "Long before I finished the book I became a believer in God and Christ."
Author museums and historic land marks dot America. While some areas like Massachusetts have an abundance of such sites, you should find an author historic site within driving distance of your home. When planning a vacation, remember to search through your vacation literature for possible short side trips to visit a favorite author. The Internet is a great place to find local attractions including author historic sites. A search at www.google.com using a favorite author’s name will usually turn up a biography or two. Do a follow up search on the author’s birthplace or places they lived. You may turn up exactly what you are looking for.
California - Jack London
Call of the Wild, White Fang
Jack London State Historic Park
2400 London Ranch Rd
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
Jack London State Historic Park was created in 1959, when a small portion - about 40 acres - of London's 1,400-acre Beauty Ranch was acquired by the state. The original park included London's grave, the ruins of Wolf House, and Charmian London's House of Happy Walls.
Indiana - General Lew Wallace
Ben Hur Museum
Wallace Avenue at Pike Street
Crawfordsville, IN 47933
Massachusetts - Emily Dickinson
Home of Emily Dickinson
280 Main Street
Amherst MA 01002
Florida & Arkansas - Ernest Hemingway
Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms
The Hemingway Home and Museum
907 Whitehead Street
Key West, FL
Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center
1021 W. Cherry Street
Massachusetts - Louisa May Alcott
Little Women, Little Men
Orchard House/Home of the Alcotts
PO Box 343
Concord, MA 01742
Orchard House was home to the Alcott family from 1858 to 1877. It is generally believed that Louisa May Alcott set her classic work, Little Women, here, although the experiences on which she based it would have happened during the Alcott years at Hillside. There have been no major structural changes to the site since the Alcotts’ time of residence. Approximately 75% of the furnishings were owned by the Alcotts, and the rooms look very much as they did when the family lived there.
New Jersey - James Fenimore Cooper
The Last of the Mohicans
James Fenimore Cooper House
457 High Street
Burlington City, NJ 08016
This house was built about 1780. In 1789, it became the birthplace of James Fenimore Cooper, novelist of the American wilderness. It has now been restored and contains four museum rooms displaying Cooper artifacts, implements and furnishings.
Pennsylvania - Pearl S. Buck
The Good Earth
Pearl S. Buck House
Green Hill Farms
520 Dublin Road
Her parents were Presbyterian missionaries, stationed in China. She was born when her parents were near the end of a furlough in the United States; when she was three months old, she was taken back to China, where she spent most of the first forty years of her life.
Kansas, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin - Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House in the Big Woods
Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society
Pepin, WI 54759
Little House on the Prairie
Little House on the Prairie, Inc.
P.O. Box 110
Independence, KS 67301
On the Banks of Plum Creek
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum
330 Eighth St
P.O. Box 58 WG
Walnut Grove, MN 56180
(507) 859-2358 or 2155.
The Ingalls Memorial Site
Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society
DeSmet, SD 57231
Setting for her last five books. For more information on these and other Laura Ingalls Wilder sites visit:
Texas - Katherine Anne Porter
Pale Horse, Pale Rider, The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter
Katherine Anne Porter Museum
508 West Center Street
Kyle, TX 78640
Built in 1880, this historic home is a beautiful tribute to one of the nation’s most admired writers. Furnished with period pieces and collections of works by Southwest writers, artists, and poets, this home also displays a unique collection of Porter’s photographs, recordings, and videos. A collection of Porter’s letters and manuscripts is also maintained at this site.
Prince Edward Island, Canada - LM Montgomery
Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea
Prince Edward Island National Park. Off Rte. 6, west of Rte. 13. Built in the mid-1800s, the house was once the home of cousins of Lucy Maud Montgomery's grandfather. Their farm inspired the setting for her fictional novel, Anne of Green Gables.
Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Cavendish Home
Cavendish (Anne's Land) Rte. 6, at Cavendish