Saturday, January 28, 2023

Small Towns That Inspired American Novels


Monroeville Court House

Sunnyside in Tarrytown

From Fodor's Travel:

There is nothing like a great book to take you away when you can’t travel. When a great book makes a lasting impression, there is an almost universal desire to visit the place that inspired the author. Being able to walk the same roads as a favorite author or memorable character allows a reader to understand their favorite books in a new, intensely different way. While many great novels are inspired by the lights of big cities like New York City or Los Angeles, small towns across the country have been inspiring authors for centuries. These 12 small towns inspired some of the best and most popular American novels that have stood the test of time.


Harper Lee grew up in Monroeville and drew heavily from her hometown to create Maycomb, the setting for To Kill a Mockingbird. Visitors can tour sites from Lee’s most significant novel. Local actors have been performing the stage version of To Kill a Mockingbird for over 30 years. Devotees of the novel can also see the town’s iconic courtroom where Lee watched her father practice law as a child, which inspired the book’s dramatic courtroom scene. The courthouse has historical photos of Lee and her friend Truman Capote. The town also features a “Birdhouse Trail” lined with birdhouses depicting scenes from To Kill a Mockingbird. (Read more.)




crazylikeknoxes said...

I do enjoy literary travels.

To Kill a Mockingbird: Monroeville, Alabama. I’ve always enjoyed the book but it never occurred to me that it could be a literary destination, despite my having made several trips to Alabama. The tacky part of me would want to see them open a Boo Radley fright-house.

Their Eyes Were Watching God: Eatonville, Florida. I read the book when I was younger (in youth I would read books at random) and I did enjoy it. The hurricane certainly gave the story some local color.

The Color Purple: Eatonton, Georgia. I’ve been on literary pilgrimage to Eatonton several times in my life, but not because of Alice Walker or The Color Purple – which I’ve never read. No., Eatonton is the boyhood home of Joel Chandler Harris and where he learned the tales of the old plantation. As an adult living in Atlanta, he put those tales into writing and we know them as the tales of Uncle Remus about Br’er Rabbit & co. I have always adored those stories. There is a small Uncle Remus Museum in Eatonton (appropriately enough housed in an old sharecropper’s home) and in Atlanta one can the visit the more substantial Wren’s Nest, the house Harris lived in as an adult.

And while we are in Georgia, nothing about Flannery O’Connor? I thought her sites were fairly well-known.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Death Come for the Archbishop: Taos, New Mexico. Never read these books. But I remember Taos being mentioned in a Dean Koontz novel I read as a “spiritual” place – not in a good way.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Hannibal, Missouri. It’s hard to say if I love the Mississippi because of Twain’s writing or whether the Mississippi makes me love Twain’s writing. The relationship is probably symbiotic.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, New York. As with To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ve always enjoyed the story but it has never occurred to me to visit the place.

elena maria vidal said...

There are so many great American writers left out by the article I linked to, such as Flannery O'Connor, Willa Cather, Edith Wharton and Frances Parkinson Keyes. And I do not think they mentioned Nathaniel Hawthorne or James Fenimore Cooper or Hemingway or F. Scott Fitzgerald. Really, just a few authors are mentioned. Lady C's Lover is not American but by D. H. Lawrence. I never read the Color Purple either although I saw the film, which was sad. Thanks so much for mentioning Joel Chandler Harris and his stories; I thought they were great. There was a Disney film which is now banned.