Cities Journal

Southern Literary Destinations For Book Worms

Perhaps more than any other US region, the South packs an atmospheric punch made for the written word. No wonder it’s produced a wealth of writers. Since nothing makes an author’s work important quite like a pilgrimage to the place where he used to think and work.

Here are some southern literary destinations worth a visit.

Asheville, N.C.

“Look Homeward, Angel” author Thomas Wolfe grew up here, while in the mid-1930s a foundering F. Scott Fitzgerald spent 11 very hard months at the city’s fashionable Grove Park Inn. Explore the former’s source material by touring Old Kentucky Home, the Wolfe family’s boarding house. Then you can head to the Grove Park, enjoy stunning Blue Ridge views, on the Sunset Terrace, one of Fitzgerald’s haunts during his stay.

Oxford, Miss.

William Faulkner, Nobel laureate – maybe we should only say that. Oxford provided the setting for such classics as “Light In August” and “The Sound and the Fury.” At the heart of Faulkner’s Oxford, there is Rowan Oak, the Greek Revival home where he lived and worked for 30 years. Don’t miss his writing room, where he famously outlined his novel “A Fable”, on the wall.

Atlanta, Ga.

Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 historical novel “Gone with the wind” needs no introduction; however, the author’s own backstory is not that familiar. To learn more about the writer who gave us Scarlett O’Hara, visit the Margaret Mitchell House where she lived while penning her epic.

Monroeville, Ala.

Harper Lee and Truman Capote. Lifelong Monroeville resident Lee became friends with Capote when the latter was sent to live with his relatives, who were Lee’s neighbors. It is rumored that their youthful adventures inspired those of Scout and Dill in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Today, the courthouse where Lee watched her lawyer (and Atticus Finch model) father argue cases is the Monroe County Museum.

New Orleans, La.

For many, the father of local letters is playwright Tennessee Williams, who based works like “A Streetcar Named Desire” here. On a casual stroll around town, super fans might consider holding out for the Tennessee Williams Festival, held every March.

Milledgeville, Ga.

After being diagnosed with lupus in 1951, the young writer Flannery O’Connor moved to Andalusia, the dairy farm run by her mother and situated on Milledgeville’s outskirts. Here O’Connor stayed until her death in 1964, producing a small but very important fiction. Visitors to Andalusia can tour O’Connor’s home.

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