National March into Literacy Month is ideal time to learn more
Here are five luminaries to consider:
1. Louisa May Alcott. Concord, Mass. Visit the home of a novelist who crafted a compelling story around the relationships within her own family. You’ll take a guided tour and get a glimpse into how the Marche family lived in the home, known as Orchard House, from 1858 to 1877. Many of the family’s treasures remain in the well-preserved structure, including family china and photographs. The shelf desk upon which she penned the beloved “Little Women” remains in Louisa’s bedroom.
Contact: (978) 369-4118; louisamayalcott.org
2. Karen Blixen Museum. Nairobi, Kenya. Much of the 1985 Oscar-winning film “Out of Africa” was shot on the grounds of Karen Blixen’s farmhouse, now a museum and popular tourist stop. Her memoir, upon which the film was based, described her life as a Danish expatriate running a coffee plantation 10 miles outside of Nairobi from 1917 to 1931. Tours enable literary fans to wander the expansive grounds and the home where many of her personal effects remain. Stay at the nearby cottages, where a small restaurant and lush gardens add to the experience.
3. Mark Twain. Hannibal, Mo. A National Historic Landmark, this eight-building complex provides a wonderful overview of the author’s life and work for family members of all ages. Learn about the real-life folks who inspired Twain’s characters and of the writer’s early adventures on the Mississippi River that would later inform so much of his writing. See Becky Thatcher’s house, the famous whitewashed fence and the museum building, which includes interactive displays that bring famous literary scenes to life.
Contact: (573) 221-9010; marktwainmuseum.org
4. Ernest Hemingway. Key West, Fla. The famed author loved his home in the heart of Key West and the beauty of this seaside paradise. In addition to learning about the adventures of this Nobel Prize-winning writer, your kids are likely to be charmed by the descendants of Snowball, a white, six-toed cat that Hemingway received as a gift from a ship captain. More than 30 feline family members are still in residence, many named after famous people, a practice put into play by Papa Hemingway.
Contact: (305) 294-1136; hemingwayhome.com/cats
5. Jack London. Glen Ellen, Calif. Channel the adventuresome spirit of one of the planet’s most inspired writers as you explore Jack London State Historic Park. The site includes hiking and horseback trails, the stone barn and the home where London penned his page-turners. The author of “Call of the Wild” and “White Fang” was laid to rest on this 39-acre retreat, which is now a National Historic Landmark.
Contact: (707) 938-5216; jacklondonpark.com