January 2011 Issue
Learn more about Ohio-born authors at these sites.
Author and Oberlin professor Anne Trubek has sparred with the question of why we visit writers’ houses since she began traveling to authors’ abodes as a Ph.D. student nearly 20 years ago. “I remember thinking this is silly — I don’t need to know what the kitchen looked like to understand a piece of great literature,” she says.
Her new book, A Skeptic’s Guide to Writers’ Houses (University of Pennsylvania Press) brings readers along as she tours the dwellings of Hemingway, Emerson, Twain, Ohio’s Paul Laurence Dunbar and other celebrated American authors. She searches for the magic and mystery that sustains each home’s popularity as a tourist destination.
Although Trubek admits that the concept of literary tourism “doesn’t really work” for her, she willingly shares her insight into why readers’ collective curiosity feeds on these small glimpses into the daily lives of favorite authors.
“It’s a place where readers can congregate,” she says. “Art lovers have museums and music lovers can meet at a concert, but readers don’t have a ‘space,’ ” she says.
Trubek notes that smaller, less-visited destinations offer more opportunity to interact with the curators and better understand a piece of the past. “The Dunbar House in Dayton is one of my favorites,” she says. “Dunbar died quite young, and after he died his mother — who had been a slave — just basically closed the door and left his room as it was for 30 years,” she says. “The history there is intense.”
In Ohio, we have countless opportunities to connect with our most celebrated contributors to the literary world — living and deceased. Here, a few must-see destinations as well as some suggested reading to get your journey started. To read more, click here to subscribe. >>