Travel | Literary Monument Tours – Florida NewsLine

By Debi Lander

Avid readers often become curious about their favorite authors and may enjoy a visit to the author’s home or the sites of a novel. Here are a few worth considering.

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West

Legendary writer Ernest Hemingway lived an adventurous life in Florida and Cuba between 1931 and 1939. Tour his restored Spanish Colonial-style home in Key West, including his writing studio and swimming pool – the Keys’ first in-ground pool . Guided tours educate visitors about Hemingway’s writing and lifestyle, his six-toed cats, and the pet cemetery. Add a visit to Sloppy Joe’s Bar in downtown Key West, a Hemingway favorite and as colorful as the author.

Savannah: The Childhood Home of Flannery O’Connor and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Flannery O’Connor grew up in her family home near St. John the Baptist Cathedral in historic Savannah. Every room in his former home has been Depression-era restored, showcasing a glimpse into the childhood of one of America’s greatest short story writers. She then moved to Andalusia, a family farm near Eatonton, Georgia, when she was diagnosed with lupus. You can visit this farm, where she lived until her death in 1964.

In Savannah, fans of John Berendt’s best-selling book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” love to see the sites of the non-fiction story of a mysterious murder and trial. The sultry town becomes as much a character in her story as the other memorable personalities. Be sure to visit the Mercer Williams House, filled with remarkable antiques, and stroll among the holm oaks laden with Spanish moss and grave statuary in Bonaventure Cemetery.

Carl Sandburg’s House: Connemara Farms in Flat Rock, North Carolina

Carl Sandburg, known as the “People’s Poet”, lived from 1878 to 1967. Sandberg authored various books, including a biography of Lincoln, children’s books, and poetry. He won three Pulitzer Prizes. His country home sits on 270 acres in western North Carolina, now a National Historic Site. You have to walk to the hilltop house, but it’s a fascinating place that feels like he and his wife lived there yesterday. His office is overflowing with paperwork, books, artwork and personal artifacts. The upstairs bedrooms and clothing on display take you back to the 1950s. Sandburg’s wife raised award-winning goats and visitors, especially children, love to see the offspring of her dairy goat herd near the barn.

William Faulkner’s House: Rowan Oak in Mississippi

William Faulkner, a proliferating author and Nobel laureate, was from Oxford, Mississippi. Her beloved home, Rowan Oak, offers visitors a glimpse into her private life. The large, Greek Revival columned house sits at the end of a tree-lined lane. A wall in his office includes a pencil outline of a novel, like a storyboard, and his typewriter. You can follow the Faulkner Trail from Oxford to visit other sites in the city dubbed “the cultural Mecca of the South”.

Zora Neale Hurston’s Florida home

Fort Pierce, Florida, near Port St. Lucie on the east coast, features the two-bedroom home of Zora Neale Hurston, playwright and anthropologist known for her novel “Their Eyes Were Looking at God.” Follow the Dust Tracks Heritage Trail to learn more about this African-American storyteller and her accomplishments.

Other southern literary landmarks include the homestead of Marjorie K. Rawlings nestled among citrus groves in Florida’s Cross Creek State Park. The Thomas Wolfe Home and Visitor Center is in Asheville, North Carolina, and the home of Margaret Mitchell, author of “Gone with the Wind,” is in Atlanta. My list could go on, but I would love to hear about reader visits to literary attractions.

Visit to read more stories and travel tips from local travel writer Debi Lander.

Photo courtesy Debi Lander

Key West: Hemingway Office.

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