Critical Linking: Famous Author Homes and Watering Holes

Washington Irving's Study Image Courtesy of Historic Hudson Valley
Washington Irving’s Study Image Courtesy of Historic Hudson Valley

I try not to soapbox or take other writers to task on my blog because flame wars are rude and counterproductive. However, (cue the ominous music) the HuffPost and the U.S. World News and Report have recently published stories which, IMHO, exhibit a shocking lack of diversity. Since the diversity theme seems to be hot, I was surprised at the oversight and disappointed by the lack of sensitivity exhibited by both publications.

The June 12, 2015 HuffPost Travel feature titled “Literary Landmarks 7 Famous Authors’ Homes You Can Visit” unquestionably lists seven famous authors’ homes. Seven white male authors. I found this particularly annoying since author Marsha Dubrow wrote the story.

The authors Dubrow includes are:

Mark Twain

Walt Whitman

Ernest Hemingway

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Thomas Wolfe

William Faulkner

Eugene O’Neill

It’s always tough to provide a short list meant to represent the greats in any category, but even if the list was meant to be about white men, I would still want to include Washington Irving’s Sunnyside in Tarrytown, NY.

Harriet Beecher Stowe House

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Unfortunately, there are no women on the HuffPost list, and there is no ethnic diversity. It is quite easy to find house museums of famous women authors. I think the most notable exception to the list is the  Harriet Beecher Stowe Center which includes her Hartford, Connecticut residence. Since the Stowe House is located next door to the Mark Twain house, it would be easy to visit both in the same day.

Twain and Stowe lived in their homes during the same time frame. They specifically built their dream homes in Hartford because it was one of the most affluent cities on the eastern seaboard at the time.

Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House is billed as the “Home of Little Women.”

Image Courtesy of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House

No major architectural changes have been made to the home since the Alcott’s were in residence, and about 80% of the furnishings on display belonged to the family.

Unattributed image of Louisa May Alcott's desk via Pinterest.
Unattributed image of Louisa May Alcott’s desk via Pinterest.

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

Image Courtesy of U.S. Federal Govt. via Wikipedia

Similarly, some ethnic diversity should have been presented in the HuffPost feature. The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site , administered by the National Park Service, is in Anacostia, located in Southeast Washington, D.C. At the site, visitors can tour Cedar Hill, home of the famed abolitionist. Douglass escaped slavery to spend his remaining life using his brilliant words in the fight to secure equality for everyone.

Algonquin Hotel

The “Cafes Your Favorite Authors Loved” by  Ashley Hardaway, published in the August 19, 2014 of U.S. World News and Report isn’t any better. Once again, the story is filled with details regarding white men. I admit that I’m not as familiar with venues in which noteworthy female writers dined, but surely the Algonquin Hotel, with its famous Round Table, merited a mention. Dorothy Parker, critic, poet, short-story writer, and screenwriter, notoriously added the venom to “The Vicious Circle.”

Which famous writers’ homes would you add?

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2 thoughts on “Critical Linking: Famous Author Homes and Watering Holes

    1. Gail A. Sisolak

      Thanks! I’m going to try to get to them too. I always try to find literary sites when I travel. I can recommend both the Mark Twain House and the Washington Irving House. I wanted to get to the Harriett Beecher Stowe Center while we were there, but I was on assignment and didn’t have time.

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