Key West Sunset 2

The Florida Keys: Key West

It’s hard to resist a place that has a nightly sunset celebration in its main square, a tradition playwright Tennessee Williams (cocktail in hand) is credited with inspiring. (The sun sets on the island in the photo above.) The southernmost city in the continental United States, Key West has beckoned no shortage of creative types, from poet Robert Frost to its most famous resident, Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway made what was intended to be a brief stopover on the island in the late 1920s and instead ended up living there for a decade, drawn to the rough-and-tumble charm and laid-back lifestyle. The Spanish Colonial-style house he purchased, now the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, is a double delight for cat-loving bibliophiles. Legend has it that a ship’s captain gave the writer a polydactyl, or six-toed, cat, and the 50 or so felines that roam the property today—even sleeping in Hemingway’s bedroom—are its descendants. At the Tennessee Williams Museum, the playwright’s typewriter is on display along with colorful paintings created by the amateur artist.

The South Seas: Samoa

Celebrity writer Robert Louis Stevenson spent the last several years of his life on Samoa, where he is still considered the island’s most famous expat. After sailing around the South Pacific for a time, Stevenson and his wife, Fanny, built a mansion—complete with library, a ballroom, and the only fireplace on the island—in the hills near the village of Apia. Now the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, the literary landmark has been restored to how it looked at the time of the writer’s death and is show by guided tour. When Stevenson passed away in 1894 from a cerebral hemorrhage, Samoan natives he had befriended—and who gave him the name Tusitala, “Teller of Tales”—carried his body to a hilltop grave overlooking the sea.

The English Channel: Guernsey

Victor Hugo’s four-story house on the island of Guernsey—where he lived for 14 years during self-imposed exile from France for political reasons—has been described as being like a poem and akin to stepping into his imagination. Hugo’s decorating tastes tended toward the dramatic—red damask, tapestries, dark wood furnishings, gilded mirrors—and each room in Hauteville House is individually decorated and includes items he acquired in local antique shops. Crowning Hugo’s domain is a glass conservatory he used as his bedroom and office, with sweeping views of the sea.

The island in the English Channel is also the setting for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. The novel, which is told through letters, unfolds the story of a group of Guernsey residents who form a book club as an alibi while the island is occupied by Nazis during World War II.

Check out VisitGuernsey.com for the Potato Peel Pie Experience and Walk in the Footsteps of Les Miserables Author Victor Hugo.

South East England: Isle of Wight

Lord Alfred Tennyson settled on this peaceful resort isle in 1853 and remained there happily for the last 40 years of his life. Stables and other buildings on the scenic estate where the poet resided have been converted into self-catering holiday cottages. Bibliophiles can tour Tennyson’s “house half hid in the gleaming wood,” where he composed his famed poems “Maud” and “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” and hike the Tennyson Trail, a 15-mile route running through forests and along cliff tops that commemorates his daily ritual of taking long morning walks. In addition to Tennyson, the Isle of Wight has long attracted other literati in search of peace and inspiration, including Lewis Carroll, who called on Tennyson; Charles Dickens, who toiled over David Copperfield there in the summer of 1849; and John Keats, who cut short his initial visit after becoming overwhelmed by solitude.

Mediterranean Spain: Majorca

“We are planted between heaven and earth,” French writer George Sand wrote of the 14th century hilltop monastery in Valldemossa where she and her lover, the composer Frédéric Chopin, settled in 1838. “The clouds cross our garden at their own will and pleasure, and the eagles clamor over our heads.” Although the couple’s stay was shorter than intended due to inclement weather that worsened Chopin’s tuberculosis and the even harsher treatment of locals who disapproved of the famous pair living in sin, the monks’ cells they occupied at the Majorcan monastery have been made into a museum . On display are mementos from their stay, including some of Sand’s manuscripts, Chopin’s notes, and the composer’s piano, which was arduously transported up the mountain by donkey just two weeks prior to their sudden departure. Sand wrote about the ill-fated trip in her memoir Winter in Majorca.

Eastern Canada: Prince Edward Island

Fans of the spirited, red-headed orphan Anne of Green Gables, who has charmed readers since she first appeared in print in 1908, can follow in her footsteps. Anne’s scenic home, Green Gables, was inspired by a real-life farm belonging to relatives of author L. M. Montgomery’s grandfather. Located in Cavendish (the town that served as the stand-in for the novel’s Avonlea), the property is now the Green Gables Heritage Place and part of Prince Edward Island National Park. Tour the farmhouse, where rooms have been fashioned to reflect how they’re described in the novel, join a Sunday picnic with old-fashioned games and ice cream-making, or stroll through the swath of forest Anne dubbed the Haunted Wood. Also on the island is the Anne of Green Gables Museum.