Twain, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway. Hundreds of the world's most renowned writers hailed from the United States and found their inspiration here. Following are some of the top attractions in the U.S. where you can learn more about America's lions and lionesses of literature. Some authors called more than one city home during their lifetimes and this is noted below. For more information about American literary figures, check out About's Guide to Classic Literature's extensive guide to American Literature.
Mark Twain's Homes
Samual Langhorne Clemens (aka Mark Twain) is one of the best known and most quoted writers to come out of the U.S. His boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri, the city that would serve as the setting for his beloved books The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, has been a museum since 1912. Visitors to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum can witness his early works come to life through readings, old photographs, and exhibits about the real characters on whom Twain's stories were based.
Twain also lived in Hartford, Connecticut, from 1874 to 1891. The Mark Twain House and Museum contains 16,000 artifacts, including the Twain family's personal effects, first editions of all of Twain's books, and archival letters.
Ernest Hemingway and his family lived in this Key West, Florida, home from 1931 to 1940. Visitors can tour the interior, which contains personal effects, such as trophy mounts from Hemingway's hunting expeditions in Africa and the American West; see the enormous pool, which Hemingway had constructed from 1937-38 at a whopping cost of $20,000; or stroll through the gardens, where the Hemingway House's famous six-toed cats, descendants of Hemingway's original furry friends, roam free.
The author of
, and other classic of the Jazz Age lived in several U.S. cities throughout his lifetime, including St. Paul, Minnesota, where the writer was born, and lived most of his young life, and in Hollywood, California, where he died. For one year, F. Scott, his wife Zelda Sayre, and their daughter Scottie, lived in Montgomery, Alabama, Zelda's native city. The F. Scott Fitzgerald Museum, operating out of the house where the Fitzgeralds lived from 1931 to 1931, contains such artifacts as love letters between F. Scott and Zelda; letters between F. Scott and his literary pals, including Hemingway; and many of Zelda's paintings.
Jack Kerouac Sites
Writer of On the Road, Jack Kerouac is considered the king of Beat Literature. His haunts included City Lights Bookstore and the bars and dives of the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. Since 2003, the Beat Museum, also in North Beach, has kept the memory of Jack Kerouac and his Beat companions alive with letters, photos, book first editions, and other memorabilia. On the other side of the country, Lowell, Massachusetts, Kerouac's birthplace and site of his grave, celebrates him with the annual Jack Kerouac Literary Festival.
Author Margaret Mitchell published only one book in her lifetime, but the sweeping Civil War epic
was enough to win her the Pulitzer Prize. She wrote the 1,000-plus page novel in her Atlanta home, which is now a museum. On display here are personal correspondence, first editions of American and foreign editions of her novel, and memorabilia from the book and the Oscar-award winning film starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable.
One of the largest literary-focused sites in the country is the National Steinbeck Center, located in Salinas, California, the erstwhile home of John Steinbeck. The center is arranged into various exhibition spaces, chief amongst those is the permanent John Steinbeck Exhibition Hall, which showcases Steinbeck's camper from
, and others.