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In anticipation of Writers Between the Covers, on sale October 29, we’re spotlighting locales associated with literary lovers. Click here to find out how to enter to win a copy of the book.

A JEWEL FIT FOR A KIPLING

19kipling_CA0-articleLargeWhile Rudyard Kipling was on honeymoon, he received the bad news that his bank had gone bust, taking his life savings along with it. The penniless writer and his young American bride, Carrie, decided to leave England for Brattleboro, Vermont, where they were able to build a home on property owned by Carrie’s family.

They christened their dwelling “Naulahka,” the Hindi word for “jewel beyond price,” which was also the title of a novel Kipling had co-written with his wife’s brother. While at Naulahka (pronounced now-LAH-kuh), the writer produced some of his best known works including The Jungle Book and the first of his Just So Stories. His fiercely protective wife guarded the door to his study, refusing admittance to the newspapermen and fans who frequently came to call on the now-famous author.

During his time in Vermont, avid golfer Kipling also invented the game of “snow golf” using red-painted golf balls and cups. His golf clubs remain at the house, which the family hurriedly left only four years after their arrival. When Kipling became embroiled in an ugly lawsuit against his alcoholic brother-in-law, who reportedly threatened to kill him, the resulting media hype spurred the publicity-shy writer to return to England.

Today Naulahka, which has been managed and restored by the Landmark Trust, can be rented by bibliophiles who want to soak in Kipling’s claw-foot tub or sit at the desk where the Nobel Prize winner penned his works.

[Photo: Nancy Palmieri for The New York Times]

In anticipation of Writers Between the Covers, on sale October 29, we’re spotlighting literary locales associated with some of the figures featured in the book.

gwh-2GREENWAY HOUSE
When archaeological excursions in the Middle East weren’t on the itinerary for Agatha Christie and her husband, Max Mallowan, the couple could often be found at Greenway House, their holiday retreat in the English countryside. Among the items on display in the 18th century residence-turned-museum—which inspired the setting for the Poirot tale Dead Man’s Folly—are the author’s 1937 Remington portable typewriter and a Steinway piano. The musically talented Christie, who trained as a classical pianist, was too shy to play the piano for anyone except Mallowan.

Before Christie found her happily ever after with the archaeologist, she endured the painfully public demise of her first marriage. After her spouse walked out on her, she became embroiled in a real-life mystery. Christie disappeared for eleven days, sparking the largest-ever manhunt in England before resurfacing with claims of amnesia.

INVESTIGATE CHRISTIE’S RETREAT
Greenway House sits on 30 acres of woodland and gardens overlooking the River Dart. Mystery buffs who want to do more than meander through the museum can holiday in Christie and Mallowan’s digs; a five-bedroom apartment, spread over the first and second floors of the house, is available for short-term rentals.

[Photo ©Flickr/globalNix]

Ernest Hemingway was born in July on the cusp of the 20th century, and the summer month would prove to be a pivotal time for the writer throughout his life. Here are some key July moments in the Hemingway timeline:

July 21, 1899 – Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, a middle-class Chicago suburb where he spent the first 18 years of his life. He
spent his early childhood years in a grand turreted, Queen Anne-style home, now a shrine to the scribe and operated in conjunction with the nearby Ernest Hemingway Museum.

July 1918 – While driving an ambulance for the Red Cross on the Italian front lines during World War I, 18-year-old Hemingway was seriously
wounded by mortar fire. His shrapnel wounds were tended to by a nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky, with whom he fell in love. Their relationship inspired his novel about a doomed wartime romance, A Farewell to Arms. Agnes’ rejection letter to the brave warrior is on display at the Ernest Hemingway Museum.

July 1923 – The insatiable traveler attended his first bullfight during Pamplona’s legendary running of the bulls, returning nearly every year for the rest of the decade to witness the death-defying spectacle. His Spanish sojourns inspired his 1925 novel The Sun Also Rises, which takes place during the annual Fiesta of San Fermin and follows a dissolute band of expats who spend their days drinking brandy and absinthe at Café Iruna.

July 1937 – At the White House, Hemingway attended a viewing of the film The Spanish Earth with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. He had become outspoken against anti-fascism after covering the Spanish Civil War for a North American newspaper and co-wrote and narrated the documentary shown to the president. The event was a fundraiser for ambulances for the Loyalist forces fighting Franco.

July 1940 – The famous scribe wrapped up For Whom the Bell Tolls, which was published three months later and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He penned the tale in various locations, including Idaho, where he occupied the Parlor Suite (number 206) at the Sun Valley Lodge. He dubbed the room “Glamour House” and posed there next to his typewriter for the book’s dust jacket photo. Today his picture hangs above the fireplace.

July 1960 – Hemingway left Cuba for the last time after having spent nearly two decades residing on the island, where his refuge was a 13-acre estate overlooking Havana. At La Finca Vigía (Spanish for “lookout farm”), among the works he wrote was The Old Man and the Sea, his Pulitzer Prize-winning tale of man versus marlin.

July 2, 1961 – Suffering from debilitating illness and bouts of depression, Hemingway died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home just west of Ketchum, Idaho, 50 years ago. His two-story chalet overlooking Big Wood River has been preserved by the Nature Conservancy and is open to the public only on special occasions.

[Photos © Hemingway Birthplace Home, Cafe Iruna, Sun Valley Lodge, Finca Vigia Foundation]

 

A lively, informative tour of the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home (one of the best tours I’ve had at any historical site) reveals insights into the writer’s early years. She was born in Savannah, Georgia, on March 25, 1925, and lived in the house until she was thirteen. The abode was recently restored thanks in large part to a donation from literary enthusiasts Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer, the film producer.

O’Connor was a precocious child, writing comments in the margins of her books—some of which are on display with her notations, such as Alice in Wonderland, which she panned. Her childhood in Savannah later provided inspiration for some of her short stories, like “A Circle in the Fire,” which features a child eavesdropping on her mother’s conversation from a second-floor window.

While living in Savannah, O’Connor developed a lifelong affinity for domestic birds. The news organization British Pathé once reported on a pet chicken that 5-year-old O’Connor had taught the unusual feat of walking backwards, captured on video. The writer later called the event “the high point in my life.”

The Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home is located along Lafayette Square (above right), one of the city’s 21 historic and picturesque squares. Named for the Marquis de Lafayette, the French hero of the American Revolution, it was laid out in 1837. The water in the fountain at its center, which was donated in 1984 to mark the 250th anniversary of Savannah’s founding as a colony, runs green on St. Patrick’s Day.

O’Connor was baptized at the French Gothic-style Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (below), and she later attended services and made her first communion there. Religion is a central theme in much of O’Connor’s fiction, which she combined with dark comedy. “My subject in fiction,” she once said, “is the action of grace in territory held larely by the devil.”

 

Another historic dwelling on Lafayette Square is the Hamilton-Turner Inn, where rooms are named for famous Savannah figures. Located in a carriage house, the Flannery O’Connor Room features bright blue walls, a decorative iron bed, and French doors opening onto a courtyard patio.

The French Empire mansion was built in 1873 by the city’s mayor (and a blockade runner) and opened as a B&B in 1997. The abode was featured in John Berendt’s 1994 bestseller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil as the site of some notorious parties. Tours related to Berendt’s true tale of murder in Savannah have brought literary travelers to the city in droves and are still a big draw. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt

This weekend the First Family took a getaway to Asheville, North Carolina. The Obamas’ lodging place? The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, a sprawling and lavish hotel in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Since opening in 1913, the Grove Park Inn has played host to previous presidents, entertainers, business tycoons, and literary figures.

The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed there on numerous occasions in the 1930s. The best time for literary travelers to visit is in September, when the scribe is lauded with a birthday salute. This year the three-day fest will take place Friday, September 24 – Sunday, September 26.

On the agenda is live music, tours of the room the scribe occupied (number 441), a poetry contest, and cooking demonstrations. And guests who really want to get into the swing of things can learn to dance the Charleston with flappers in the Great Hall — the hotel’s spacious lobby with 24-foot ceilings and two 14-foot stone fireplaces whose chimneys conceal elevators still used to transport guests to their rooms.

[Photo © The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa]

Following a multi-million dollar restoration, the historic Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul is due to reopen this month. Originally opened in 1892 by the owners of the Orient Express to provide suitably grand accommodation for their passengers at the train’s Istanbul terminus, the Pera Palace quickly became established as the place to see and be seen for members of high society.

Among the hotel’s most famous guests was Agatha Christie, who stayed there many times between 1926 and 1932 and is believed to have written portions of her beloved mystery, Murder on the Orient Express, in Room 411, which can be reserved by guests and contains a library of her books in several languages. A mysterious key she reportedly hid under a floorboard in her room, said to be  the key to lost diaries that contain information about her mysterious 11-day disappearance in 1926, is displayed in the Orient Bar.  Other famous guests who have lodged at the Pera Palace include Alfred Hitchcok, Greta Garbo, Zsa Zsa Gabor and the Mata Hari.

If you’re up for an all-nighter, the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts, is hosting its annual marathon reading of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick this weekend. More than 100 bibliophiles will read passages from the novel. The event begins on Saturday, January 9th, at noon when a young sailor decked in 19th-century garb utters the opening lines of the story (“Call me Ishmael”) and concludes about 24 hours later. Much-needed coffee and snacks will be served throughout the night.

On January 3, 1841, Herman Melville sailed from New Bedford aboard a ship headed for the Pacific. He later featured the historic whaling port, which was burned by British forces during the Revolutionary War, in Moby-Dick. “The town itself is perhaps the dearest place to live in, in all New England,” declared Melville in his epic tale.

If the current frigid weather in New England is a deterrent, plan a visit to the seaside town during the warmer months. “In summer time, the town is sweet to see; full of fine maples—long avenues of green and gold,” wrote Melville. “And in August, high in air, the beautiful and bountiful horse-chestnuts, candelabra-wise, proffer the passer-by their tapering upright cones of congregated blossoms. So omnipotent is art; which in many a district of New Bedford has superinduced bright terraces of flowers upon the barren refuse rocks thrown aside at creation’s final day.”

The museum, whose mission is to illuminate the interaction of humans with whales, has a guide listing 38 of its artifacts and how they relate to Moby-Dick.

Lodging options in New Bedford include the bed-and-breakfast Melville House (right). The restored Italian Empire-style house was once owned by Melville’s sister, Katherine, who often had her sibling to stay. You can slumber in the Herman Melville Room, where a portrait of the scribe hangs above an antique writing desk. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt

[Photo © Melville House]

gwh-2Amateur sleuths can now investigate Greenway House, Agatha Christie’s summer retreat in Devon, England. After two years of restoration, the 18th-century manor house opens to the public for the first time this Saturday, February 28th.

Greenway House looks much as it did during the crime writer’s time there, including the drawing room where she entertained guests with readings from her page-turners. Matthew Pritchard, Christie’s grandson, told the Associated Press he hopes visitors will “feel some of the magic and sense of place that I felt when my family and I spent so much time there in the 1950s and ’60s.”

Christie was born in the seaside town of Torquay, Devon, and the area provided the backdrop for 15 of her novels, including And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun. Greenway House inspired the setting for the Hercule Poirot mystery Dead Man’s Folly.

The estate also has 30 acres of wooded and landscaped gardens overlooking the River Dart. Mystery buffs who want to make themselves at home in Christie’s residence can spring for a five-bedroom holiday apartment. The going rate is $3,600 a week in high season. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt

(Photo ©Flickr/globalNix)

Elizabeth & Darcy, perhaps? This week novelist Nora Roberts opened the Inn Boonsboro in Boonsboro, Maryland. Seven of the bed-and-breakfast’s eight rooms are named for literary romantic couples and feature décor in keeping with each one’s time period and circumstances.

In an interview with USA Today, Roberts described the Nick & Nora room — named for the married detectives in Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man — as blending “sleek art deco and fussy Hollywood glamour.” One important point, she explained, is that all the couples she chose had a happy ending (alas, there’s no room named for Romeo & Juliet or Rhett & Scarlett).

Along with Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane Austen’s popular pair from Pride and Prejudice, other room-inspiring couples include Jane & Rochester (Jane Eyre), Marguerite & Percy (The Scarlet Pimpernel), Titania & Oberon (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and Eve & Roarke from the “In Death” novels by J.D. Robb (a pseudonym for Roberts).

The luxurious lodgings are housed in an 18th-century abode, the first stone building constructed in Boonsboro. Among the inn’s unique touches are specially-created bath gels and lotions with a personalized scent for each room. One place that might appeal to bibliophile guests is the Inn Boonsboro’s library, where they can while away the hours in front of the fireplace with a good book — perhaps one featuring their room’s namesake duo. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt

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“The goal of this book is to triple the size of your To Be Read pile,” claims Jane Mount in Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany. I’m always thrilled for new reading suggestions, and there are plenty of them in this gorgeous and fun book, from Coming of Age novels to 1800s Brit Lit. There are place-themed pictorials, too—beloved bookstores, striking libraries, and literary sites like Thoreau’s one-room cabin at Walden Pond and the West Yorkshire parsonage where the Brontë sisters lived and wrote. 📚 But my favorite section is Writers’ Pets, with drawings of Mark Twain’s black cat Bambino, Flannery O’Connor’s peacock Limpy, John Steinbeck’s travel mate, the standard poodle Charley, and other classic writers’ companions. #animalsrock #booksrule #readingsuggestions #literarysites #bibliophileanillustratedmiscellany #janemount #chroniclebooks
Favorite reads of 2018. So many blue covers are a coincidence, although it is my favorite color. All of these stories are tinged with sadness but also hope and humor. Two of them I loved so much that I didn’t want them to end. I set them aside for weeks before going back to finish the final chapters (The Death of Bees and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine). One made me cry and curse (A Man Called Ove). Two were book club selections (Another Brooklyn and An American Marriage). The latter inspired our most in-depth discussion, bringing up issues of marriage (of course), loyalty, race, and more. And Dickens’ storytelling stands the test of time. Originally published in serial form, Oliver Twist is a roller-coaster of a read. I fell hard for Oliver and the people that band together to keep him out of villainous hands. #somuchgreatstorytelling #books #bookish #bookstagram #bookrecs #read #reading #eleanoroliphantiscompletelyfine #thedeathofbees #anamericanmarriage #amancalledove #anotherbrooklyn #olivertwist
The last three of my book group’s picks for 2018, all of which are great reads. We take turns choosing what we’ll read each month, and the person whose turn it is has sole discretion over the selection. It’s a fun way to do it, as each time it’s a complete surprise. I’m already mulling over options for our February meet-up when it’s my turn to select. Suggestions welcome! #bookclub #bookgroup #greatreads #greatdiscussions #bookstagram #igreads #bibliophiles #pachinko #thesympathizer #thelefthandofdarkness

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