Calling All Literature Lovers: You Need to Add These 9 Cities to Your Bucket List

by Christina Garofalo

Calling All Literature Lovers: You Need to Add These 9 Cities to Your Bucket List

by Christina Garofalo

While cities like Paris and New York have inspired and played host to countless writers, there are many less-trodden landscapes where you can retrace the lives and work of famous poets, playwrights, and novelists. Here are nine places with rich literary legacies -- at least a few of which you probably haven't seen – to inspire a few stories of your own.

While cities like Paris and New York have inspired and played host to countless writers, there are many less-trodden landscapes where you can retrace the lives and work of famous poets, playwrights, and novelists. Here are nine places with rich literary legacies -- at least a few of which you probably haven't seen – to inspire a few stories of your own.

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Wales / Leighcol/iStock
Cardiff, Wales
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Cardiff, Wales

Roald Dahl's hometown of Cardiff, Wales is definitely worth visiting. The late writer is permanently memorialized at The Roald Dahl Plass, a public plaza on Cardiff Bay used for outdoor performances. The Norwegian Church, where Dahl and his siblings were christened, now hosts performances and exhibits in the Dahl Gallery. Die-hard fans can book a night at the Ty Mynydd House and Lodge (from 59 euro or $67 per night) – the Dahl family's summer home – which he described in his book Boy as, “A mighty house with turrets on its roof and with majestic lawns and terraces all around it.” 

Read more: 12 Perfectly Romantic Small Towns in Europe

Roald Dahl's hometown of Cardiff, Wales is definitely worth visiting. The late writer is permanently memorialized at The Roald Dahl Plass, a public plaza on Cardiff Bay used for outdoor performances. The Norwegian Church, where Dahl and his siblings were christened, now hosts performances and exhibits in the Dahl Gallery. Die-hard fans can book a night at the Ty Mynydd House and Lodge (from 59 euro or $67 per night) – the Dahl family's summer home – which he described in his book Boy as, “A mighty house with turrets on its roof and with majestic lawns and terraces all around it.” 

Oxford, MI
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Oxford, Mississippi

Oxford has been home to an impressive canon of writers, including John Grisham, Barry Hannah, and – most notably – William Faulkner. Pay homage to Faulkner at the Rowan Oak mansion, where he lived for over 40 years. After, take a trip to Saint Peter’s Cemetery, the writer's final resting place. His plot is hard to miss – look for the pints of whiskey, left by adoring fans and writers looking for their muse. Don't skip town without stopping by Square Books, which hosts more than 150 author events per year between its three locations. Then, grab a drink at City Grocery, a favorite watering hole among local writers (including Barry Hannah and Larry Brown) whose legacies – and drinks of choice – are marked on plaques on the bar top and seats.

Read More: Oxford, Mississippi's First Boutique Hotel Is Not to Be Missed

Oxford has been home to an impressive canon of writers, including John Grisham, Barry Hannah, and – most notably – William Faulkner. Pay homage to Faulkner at the Rowan Oak mansion, where he lived for over 40 years. After, take a trip to Saint Peter’s Cemetery, the writer's final resting place. His plot is hard to miss – look for the pints of whiskey, left by adoring fans and writers looking for their muse. Don't skip town without stopping by Square Books, which hosts more than 150 author events per year between its three locations. Then, grab a drink at City Grocery, a favorite watering hole among local writers (including Barry Hannah and Larry Brown) whose legacies – and drinks of choice – are marked on plaques on the bar top and seats.

 

Santiago, Chile
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Santiago, Chile

Santiago was home to two Nobel Prize-winning poets: Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda. An elaborate mural in Santa Lucía Park honors Mistral, the first Latin American and fifth female to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. (Her face is also on the country's 5,000 peso note.) Meanwhile, Neruda's three homes (La SebastianaLa Chascona, Isla Negra) have all been converted into museums filled with personal items – all of which he meticulously designed and arranged. For a literary talisman to take home, visit the weekend market on Lastarria Street near the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, or peruse the booksellers near the intersection of Providencia Avenue and Miguel Claro Street.

Read more: What to See, Do, and Eat in Santiago

Santiago was home to two Nobel Prize-winning poets: Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda. An elaborate mural in Santa Lucía Park honors Mistral, the first Latin American and fifth female to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. (Her face is also on the country's 5,000 peso note.) Meanwhile, Neruda's three homes (La Sebastiana, La Chascona, Isla Negra) have all been converted into museums filled with personal items – all of which he meticulously designed and arranged. For a literary talisman to take home, visit the weekend market on Lastarria Street near the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, or peruse the booksellers near the intersection of Providencia Avenue and Miguel Claro Street.

 

Concord, MA
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Concord and Amherst, Massachusetts

The 60-mile stretch from Concord to Amherst has bred some of America's most significant literary figures. Start in Concord at the Ralph Waldo Emerson House, where the writer completed some of his most famous works. Spend the night at the Hawthorne Inn, a bed and breakfast across the road from The Wayside, the former home of Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott. Next door is the Orchard House, where Alcott wrote and set Little Women. Then, drive an hour and a half to Amherst to retrace the steps of Emily Dickinson. Here, you'll find the Emily Dickinson Museum and other landmarks like the former Amherst Academy, where Dickinson attended school (now marked by a commemorative stone); and West Cemetery, the author's final resting place.

Read more: 10 Quick Breaks From Major US Cities

The 60-mile stretch from Concord to Amherst has bred some of America's most significant literary figures. Start in Concord at the Ralph Waldo Emerson House, where the writer completed some of his most famous works. Spend the night at the Hawthorne Inn, a bed and breakfast across the road from The Wayside, the former home of Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott. Next door is the Orchard House, where Alcott wrote and set Little Women. Then, drive an hour and a half to Amherst to retrace the steps of Emily Dickinson. Here, you'll find the Emily Dickinson Museum and other landmarks like the former Amherst Academy, where Dickinson attended school (now marked by a commemorative stone); and West Cemetery, the author's final resting place.

 

Istanbul, Turkey
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Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul has been an important city for both international and homegrown writers. Start out at the Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah (from $140 per night). Book a night in the Agatha Christie Room, where the British novelist wrote Murder on the Orient Express, or stay in the Ernest Hemingway Suite. Then, grab a bite to eat at the Pierre Loti Café, dedicated to French novelist, whose stories were inspired by the city of Istanbul. Its famous views over the Golden Horn might ignite your own literary genius. The Masumiyet Müzesi (The Museum of Innocence), which is based on the eponymous novel by Orhan Pamuk, is also worth visiting. Afterward, snag a seat, pull out a pen and paper, and people-watch at the Robinson Crusoe bookstore.

Read more: Why You Should Visit Istanbul in the Winter

Istanbul has been an important city for both international and homegrown writers. Start out at the Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah (from $140 per night). Book a night in the Agatha Christie Room, where the British novelist wrote Murder on the Orient Express, or stay in the Ernest Hemingway Suite. Then, grab a bite to eat at the Pierre Loti Café, dedicated to French novelist, whose stories were inspired by the city of Istanbul. Its famous views over the Golden Horn might ignite your own literary genius. The Masumiyet Müzesi (The Museum of Innocence), which is based on the eponymous novel by Orhan Pamuk, is also worth visiting. Afterward, snag a seat, pull out a pen and paper, and people-watch at the Robinson Crusoe bookstore.

 

Iowa City, Iowa
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Iowa City, Iowa

Since its establishment in 1936, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (the oldest creative writing degree program in the country) has educated seventeen Pulitzer Prize winners and six U.S. Poets Laureate. Its reputation has inspired the likes of Kurt Vonnegut, Philip Roth, Raymond Carver, and Rita Dove to take up residence in town. The program's influence on the city is overt: In fact, Iowa City the first (and only) UNESCO City of Literature in the U.S., and the third worldwide. While you're here, drop into Prairie Lights, the state's most famous bookstore. Back in the 1930s, its second-floor cafe was the site of a literary salon that hosted Robert Frost, E.E. Cummings, Sherwood Anderson, Langston Hughes, and Gertrude Stein. We also recommend stopping by the Haunted Bookshop, the city's oldest secondhand bookstore, where you'll find over 50,000 rare, out-of-print editions.

Read more: 6 Cities You Thought Were Boring But Aren’t

Since its establishment in 1936, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (the oldest creative writing degree program in the country) has educated seventeen Pulitzer Prize winners and six U.S. Poets Laureate. Its reputation has inspired the likes of Kurt Vonnegut, Philip Roth, Raymond Carver, and Rita Dove to take up residence in town. The program's influence on the city is overt: In fact, Iowa City the first (and only) UNESCO City of Literature in the U.S., and the third worldwide. While you're here, drpop into Prairie Lights, the state's most famous bookstore. Back in the 1930s, its second-floor cafe was the site of a literary salon that hosted Robert Frost, E.E. Cummings, Sherwood Anderson, Langston Hughes, and Gertrude Stein. We also recommend stopping by the Haunted Bookshop, the city's oldest secondhand bookstore, where you'll find over 50,000 rare, out-of-print editions.

Granada, Spain
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Granada, Spain

From its gypsy caves and winding alleys to the snow-capped peaks in the backdrop, Granada looks like it's been plucked out of a poem. The city was also home to one of Spain's most renowned writers, Federico García Lorca, whose childhood home has been transformed into the Museo Casa Natal Federico García Lorca. Meanwhile, the family's house in nearby Valderrubio inspired two of his most celebrated plays, "Yerma" and "La Casa de Bernarda Alba." Before his assassination, Lorca lived at La Huerta de San Vicente in the Camino de Ronda neighborhood. Today, the home features the desk where he wrote some of his most important works, including “Blood Wedding." In Parque García Lorca, where the writer was killed, visitors can hang quotations from the tree where the shooting is believed to have happened. Additionally, the Centro Federico García Lorca features an array of programming, along with an archive of nearly 20,000 manuscripts and drawings.

Read more: The Best Things to See and Do in Spain 

From its gypsy caves and winding alleys to the snow-capped peaks in the backdrop, Granada looks like it's been plucked out of a poem. The city was also home to one of Spain's most renowned writers, Federico García Lorca, whose childhood home has been transformed into the Museo Casa Natal Federico García Lorca. Meanwhile, the family's house in nearby Valderrubio inspired two of his most celebrated plays, "Yerma" and "La Casa de Bernarda Alba." Before his assassination, Lorca lived at La Huerta de San Vicente in the Camino de Ronda neighborhood. Today, the home features the desk where he wrote some of his most important works, including “Blood Wedding." In Parque García Lorca, where the writer was killed, visitors can hang quotations from the tree where the shooting is believed to have happened. Additionally, the Centro Federico García Lorca features an array of programming, along with an archive of nearly 20,000 manuscripts and drawings.

Key West, FL
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Key West, Florida

You can find traces of Ernest Hemingway's legacy in cities around the world, but Key West provides the most intimate look at his life. The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, a U.S. National Historic Landmark, is where the writer penned some of his most famous works. Keep an eye out for the six- and seven-toed cats that roam the property: They're actually descendants of Hemingway's cats. Then, grab a drink at Captain Tony’s Saloon, the site of a bar run by Hem's friend “Sloppy Joe” Russell. In 1937, Russell moved the bar half a block away to what is now Sloppy Joe’s. Here, the writer often stored his belongings, some of which are still on display. Before you skip town, stop by the permanent Hemingway exhibit at The Custom House. You can also get face-to-face with the writer's bust at the nearby Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden in Mallory Square

Read More: A Budget Guide to Key West

You can find traces of Ernest Hemingway's legacy in cities around the world, but Key West provides the most intimate look at his life. The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, a U.S. National Historic Landmark, is where the writer penned some of his most famous works. Keep an eye out for the six- and seven-toed cats that roam the property: They're actually descendants of Hemingway's cats. Then, grab a drink at Captain Tony’s Saloon, the site of a bar run by Hem's friend “Sloppy Joe” Russell. In 1937, Russell moved the bar half a block away to what is now Sloppy Joe’s. Here, the writer often stored his belongings, some of which are still on display. Before you skip town, stop by the permanent Hemingway exhibit at The Custom House. You can also get face-to-face with the writer's bust at the nearby Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden in Mallory Square. 

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