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These writers and their partners had a flair for memorable gift-giving, from presents that pulled at the heartstrings to gifts that stirred up drama on and off the page.

Scarlett Fever: Margaret Mitchell


Margaret Mitchell received a life-altering gift from her husband while she was housebound recovering from a car accident. He presented her with a secondhand typewriter, a sheaf of paper, and the declaration, “Madam, I greet you on the beginning of a great new career.” That typewriter, which Mitchell used to craft her masterpiece, Gone with the Wind, is on view at the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library.

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“Lady Russell, convinced that Anne would not be allowed to be of any use, or any importance, in the choice of the house which they were going to secure, was very unwilling to have her hurried away so soon, and wanted to make it possible for her to stay behind till she might convey her to Bath herself after Christmas,” wrote Jane Austen in Persuasion, one of two novels for which she used the English spa town as a backdrop.

Literary travelers conveying themselves to Bath this month will find the Jane Austen Centre especially festive. The exhibit “Jane Austen’s Regency Christmas” illustrates how the holiday was celebrated in the Georgian period. For some additional good cheer, samples of mulled wine and Mrs. Austen’s plum pudding are offered. The exhibit runs through December 31.

Crafty Janeites can try their hand at making an Austen-inspired Christmas ornament. For everyone else, the Jane Austen Centre online gift shop (which ships worldwide) has a terrific selection of gifts, including pre-made ornaments, tea accessories, the ever-popular “I Love Mr. Darcy” tote bag, and a silver charm for fans of Northanger Abbey, the other novel Austen set in Bath.

[photo on right ©Jane Austen Centre]

I’ve been indulging in Harbor Sweets chocolates for years and have bestowed many a box of them on family and friends. Most of their goodies follow a nautical theme, like the Harbor Lights (truffles embossed with a sculpture of a Salem Harbor lighthouse) and the Sand Dollars (pecan halves and butter caramel surrounded by dark chocolate).

Chocolate Gables 2The company recently introduced its “Experience Salem” line, candies that can be eaten guilt-free because it’s in support of the literary arts. A portion of the proceeds from each of the confections goes to support a particular museum — Salem Witch Chocolates (almond butter crunch in milk chocolate) for the Salem Witch Museum, Sweet Wheat (dark sweet chocolate with mint and molasses) for the Peabody Essex Museum, and Chocolate Gables (solid milk and dark chocolates, above left) for the House of the Seven Gables.

All three museums are located in the seaside town of Salem, Massachusetts, salem-06-043where Harbor Sweets has its headquarters. The gabled mansion (right) was made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s gothic tale The House of the Seven Gables. There is also a connection between the writer and the other two museums. His great-great grandfather participated in the Salem witch trials and earned the moniker “The Hanging Judge.” The Peabody Essex Museum’s East India Marine was constructed in 1825 to showcase objects sailors brought back from their global journeys. Hawthorne (whose father was a member of the East India Marine Society) proudly showed the hall to his friends Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

A good way to see the town is with the National Park Service’s self-guided walking tour of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Salem. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt

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There is a used bookstore in my town that has a table on the sidewalk outside the storefront, and it stops me in my tracks every time I walk by. There is always a fabulous selection of fiction, and today—after browsing for a long time and whittling down the many, many choices—I headed home with these two novels. ... I read VANESSA AND HER SISTER previously on my e-reader, but as soon as I saw it I really wanted this lovely edition for my shelves. The story is told in the form of a diary kept by Virginia Woolf’s sister, Vanessa, beginning at the turn of the 20th century with the formation of the Bloomsbury Group in London. ... THE EYRE AFFAIR has been on my to-read list for a long time. I’m not sure what to expect from classic lit meets science fiction, but it’s time to give it a read. #hadtohavethem #bookbuying #books #book #booklovers #bookstagram #igbooks #bibliophile #symposiabookstore #bookshelf #bookish #bookworm #bookaholic #booksandcocktails #purplegin #vanessaandhersister #theeyreaffair
#tbt Edith Wharton’s library. The books on the shelves belonged to Wharton, including a copy of THE GOLDEN BOWL inscribed to her by Henry James, her close friend and sometime guest at her Berkshires home. Wharton didn’t work in the library, though, preferring to write in her upstairs bedroom. ... #dreamy #library #librarylove #books #booklover #edithwharton #themount #berkshires #massachusetts #noveldestinations #literarylandmarks #authorhouse
When I posted a giveaway yesterday featuring a copy of NOVEL DESTINATIONS and some other bookish goodies, I asked entrants to share their favorite literary site or one they’d like to visit. I asked this because a) I’m nosy and b) I really like to talk about literary travel. And it has been a ton of fun finding out what destinations are big draws. 🧳 📚 A popular pick is Canada’s Prince Edward Island, home to the spirited Anne of Green Gables. (PEI is high on my must-visit list, too). Some of the many bookish sites in England inspiring wanderlust are Brontë Country—the charming village of Haworth and the atmospheric moors—Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace, and the spa town of Bath, home to a reluctant Jane Austen for several years. And two sun-filled locales that are especially appealing for those of us in the freezing northeast U.S.: Hemingway’s abodes in Cuba (I have yet to go) and Key West (been there three times and counting, partly for the cats). 📚 Just like with books... so many places, so little time! (Giveaway runs through Sunday night.) 📚 #packingmybags #wanderlust #literarytravel #noveldestinations #booksandtravel #brontecountry #bookgiveaway

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