New England served as the backdrop for the lives of many a literary figure of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Iconic authors and famed poets settled in the region and wrote many of their acclaimed pieces in the very homes that riddle the landscape. With all of the locales within driving distance (or a quick train ride) from the city, take a day or a weekend to explore some of the country’s literary history.
The Mark Twain House & Museum and Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
Get a twofer at this stop. Explore the mansion where Mark Twain lived from 1874 to 1891 — and wrote arguably his most important works, including “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” Then stroll across the lawn to the former home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, famed abolitionist and author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
Info: Mark Twain House & Museum admission $20/adults, $18/seniors, $12/ages 6-16, FREE under 6; 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford, Connecticut, 860-247-0998, marktwainhouse.org. Harriet Beecher Stowe Center admission $16/adults, $14/seniors, $10/ages 5-16 (save $3 with a same-day ticket to the Mark Twain House & Museum); 77 Forest St., Hartford, Connecticut, 860-522-9258, harrietbeecherstowecenter.org
The Emily Dickinson Museum
Discover the inspirations behind Emily Dickinson’s poems and get a detailed look at her life and family at not just one but two historical homes: The Homestead — Dickinson’s birthplace and lifetime home for all except a 14-year stint in another location down the street — and The Evergreens — the home of Dickinson’s brother’s.
Info: Open from March-December, tour of both homes $15/adults, $13/seniors, $10/students; 280 Main St., Amherst, Massachusetts, 413-542-8161, emilydickinsonmuseum.org
The homes of Louisa May Alcott
Explore two homes of the “Little Women” author in one town. The Orchard was Louisa May Alcott’s home from 1858 to 1877 — and where she penned and set her famous 1868 tome; most of the furnishings on displayed were owned by the Alcotts. The Wayside, the author’s childhood home, served as inspiration for much of the novel. The home was sold to Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1852. It is currently located in the National Park Service’s Minute Man Historical Park.
Info: The Orchard guided tour $10; 399 Lexington Rd., Concord, Massachusetts, 978-369-4118, louisamayalcott.org. The Wayside open seasonally, Thurs.-Mon., through Oct. 29, admission $7/adults, $5/seniors and students; 174 Liberty St., Concord, Massachusetts, 978-369-6993, nps.gov/mima
More than just a college town, Cambridge is home to the former dwelling of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The National Historic Site was George Washington’s HQ during the Siege of Boston from July 1775 to April 1776. Longfellow, who occupied the house from 1843 to his death in 1882, wrote the poems “Paul Revere’s Ride” and “The Song of Hiawatha” there.
Info: House tours offered seasonally through Oct. 28, grounds open year-round, FREE admission; 105 Brattle St., Cambridge, Massachusetts, 617-876-4491, nps.gov/long
Edith Wharton’s The Mount
Experience early 20th century life at this grand estate, designed and built by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Age of Innocence” in 1902. Partake in seasonal tours of the house and servant quarters, or splurge on a private library tour that gives you access to Edith Wharton’s personal 2,700-volume library. Don’t leave without a stroll through the gardens.
Info: Open seasonally through Oct. 31, admission $20/adults, $18/seniors, $13/students (includes guided tours), private tours $150/couple; 2 Plunkett St., Lenox, Massachusetts, 413-551-5111, edithwharton.org