I recently discovered online (is there any other way to discover things these days?) that there is a Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh. Say what? I have to go. After all, I’m a writer. Plus, it’s free, which is totally in my price range.
Until I make that trip, however, I’ll have to reminisce about my favorite writerly destinations I’ve visited over the years—and I’ve had a lot of them. Years, that is. But also writer destinations. So here, for your reading pleasure and future travel planning, are my seven favorite destinations:
Yes, it’s the Holy Land. Yes, it’s walking where Jesus walked. And it’s also an amazing experience for a writer. Everywhere you turn, someone wrote there, from the many spots that gave birth to biblical writings to the Bethlehem cave adjoining the Grotto of the Nativity where St. Jerome translated much of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek to the Latin Vulgate.
Though William Shakespeare didn’t write any of his plays in Stratford, he may have written some of his sonnets there. But, of course, the Bard’s home and Anne Hathaway’s cottage can be toured.
3. 221B Baker St.
I’m not as big a Sherlock Holmes nut as I am a Shakespeare nut. But my wife did have to remind me, as I sat in the loving re-creation of the famous detective’s London lodgings: “He’s fictional.” Yeah, right, whatever.
4. The Mark Twain House (pictured above)
Samuel Clemens was already famous and wealthy when he built an amazing neo-Gothic mansion in Hartford, Connecticut; but he still wrote some of his beloved works there, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
5. The Harriet Beecher Stowe Cottage
Across the yard from the Twain house in Hartford is the much humbler Victorian Gothic cottage where the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin lived for twenty-three years.
6. City Lights Bookstore
I was giddy when I first visited San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore. It was started by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and was a gathering place for his generation’s “beat poets,” such as Gary Snyder. It was also the USA’s first all-paperback bookstore.
7. The Berry Center
On the way home from a brief writing retreat with a few good writer friends in Louisville, Kentucky, I was excited to stop off at the Berry Center in New Castle, Kentucky. I found it, walked into stately Oldham House that is the Berry Center’s home, and was quickly greeted by a young woman. I expressed some confusion. “I thought the center might be on the family farm.” “Oh, no,” she said, “Grandfather would never allow that.” Oh ho ho, I realized I was talking to the granddaughter of one of my literary idols, Wendell Berry. She graciously offered to escort me next door to the bookstore, next door in a log cabin, and answered my questions and tolerated my fanboying with a quiet, patient dignity.
I could list many more; but I’ll let these suffice for now and ask, What writerly destinations have amazed and delighted you?