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If seeing the film adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Gothic novel Jane Eyre, which opened in theaters last Friday, has inspired wanderlust, head for Haddon Hall (below left) in the English countryside. Located in Bakewell, Derbyshire, the stand-in for Mr. Rochester’s atmospheric Thornfield Hall is a fortified medieval manor house and one of the oldest dwellings in England.

Some scenes were also shot in the gardens at Chatsworth House (below right)—home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire—which has appeared on film before. It was used for the exterior shots of Mr. Darcy’s house, Pemberley, in the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. 

Combine a visit to Haddon Hall and Chatsworth House with a trip to the village of Haworth in Yorkshire, the longtime home of Charlotte and her famous sisters, Emily and Anne. Visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum, housed in the siblings’ former abode; take a literary-themed walking tour of the town; and have a pint or two at the Black Bull, a pub their wayward brother Branwell frequented.

One of the most memorable things Joni and I did on our trip to Haworth was amble along the moors to the Brontë sisters’ favorite destination. The picturesque spot has a waterfall and what has been dubbed the “Brontë chair,” which is a stone slab in the shape of a (surprisingly comfortable) chair. It’s a great place to take a breather after the two-and-a-half mile hike to get there.

The Focus Features website has a ton of fascinating information about the making of the film. Also of note: Austenprose.com has a review of the movie by Syrie James, whose novels include The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë and The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt

[Photos: Haddon Hall, ©flickr/roger 4336; all others, ©NovelDestinations.com]

Margaret Wise Brown penned Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and other beloved children’s tales. If you’re a fan of her books or, like us, you’re always game for a literary-themed walking tour, save the date this Sunday, May 23rd.

Our friend Jennifer Hart at www.BookClubGirl.com has details on a walking tour being given by Leonard Marcus, the author of Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened By the Moon, in celebration of what would have been Brown’s 100th birthday. Sites on the tour include places in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood where she lived, taught school children, and even had cocktails with another famous children’s book scribe — Curious George creator and illustrator H.A. Rey.

Here at NovelDestinations.com we tend to focus on literary landmarks associated with classic writers. It’s not that we don’t read and love contemporary literature, but those authors probably don’t want us showing up at their houses asking to have a look around. Although last month we talked about Cara Black’s modern-day mystery series set in Paris, and today we have a walking tour to tell you about that’s associated with a recently published bestseller.

One of my favorite reads of 2009 was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson. The first book in the Millennium trilogy (followed by The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest) is a thriller starring quirky computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Be forewarned: it’s an addictive 600-page read.

For those who would like to see some of the key locales featured in the story and learn about historical and contemporary Stockholm, the City Museum is offering “Millennium Tours.” Stops include the building where Blomkvist lives in an apartment on Sodermalm (one of 14 islands that make up the city) with a vista of City Hall and “a view of the rooftops towards Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s oldest section” [at right]. Tours last about two hours and are given in English on Sundays at 11 a.m. through the end of February and on Saturdays at 11 a.m. from March until May. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt

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

Beehive InnIt’s a perfect pairing: literary gossip and pints. On a summer night in Edinburgh, Joni and I gathered with other bibliophiles at the Beehive Inn (left) on the atmospheric Grassmarket — a street lined with pubs, including the reportedly haunted White Hart Inn, where Robert Burns penned his poem “Ae Fond Kiss” and William Wordsworth later lodged. With two entertaining actors leading the way we set out on the Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour, strolling along the city streets, listening to their banter about writers with Edinburgh connections, from classic wordsmiths to comtemporary scribes like Alexander McCall Smith, and stopping at some pubs along the way.

At the Writers’ Museum (right), we delved into the history of three famous figures who hail from Edinburgh: Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Located in a 17th-century building reached by a narrow stone passageway, the museum has a section Writers Museumdevoted to each writer with fascinating details about their lives from childhood through their illustrious careers. Robert Burns was the son of a poor tenant farmer before becoming an internationally celebrated poet. Stevenson, despite being plagued by health problems, led an adventurous life. He went to America in search of the woman he loved, sailed the South Pacific, and lived the last years of his life on the island of Samoa. (Look for more about Sir Walter Scott in the next blog post.)

Our literary adventures in Edinburgh — UNESCO’s first city of literature — ended with a visit to the Robert Louis Stevenson House, the writer’s childhood home at 17 Herriot Row, a townhouse located along Queen Street Gardens. It’s a private residence owned by the Macfie family. They occasionally accept overnight lodgers, and you can also arrange to have lunch or tea at the house. We savored fragrant Moroccan-style tea made with mint from the kitchen garden before being given a tour of the house. It was the perfect way to close the book on Edinburgh…going behind the closed doors of  a literary landmark. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt

last-dickensMatthew Pearl‘s historical novels The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow bring to life classic scribes and make use of literary landmarks like poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The concept fits perfectly with the theme of Novel Destinations, which was why he was our first choice to write the Foreword for our book.

Matthew’s latest page-turner, The Last Dickens, weaves together history and mystery in a story centered on a deadly race to locate the ending of Charles Dickens’ last, unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The action takes place on both sides of the Atlantic and includes intriguing details about Dickens’ life, such as his hardscrabble childhood after his father was sent to debtors’ prison.

Featured in the novel is the Omni Parker House, a Boston hotel where Dickens stayed during his last stateside reading tour in 1867. (The lodging place is one of the sites on Boston by Foot’s Literary Landmarks Tour.) Several scenes take place at Poets’ Corner in London’s Westminster Abbey–where Dickens (against his wishes) is interred along with other famous writers–and at Gad’s Hill Place, his last residence in the English countryside, and a Swiss-style chalet on the property where he would retreat to write.  

Gad’s Hill Place is steeped in literary history, located on the site where Shakespeare set the scene of Falstaff’s highway robbery in Henry IV. Dickens himself immortalized the house in A Christmas Carol as “a mansion of dull red brick with a little weather-cock surmounted Cupola on the roof and a bell hanging on it.” Gad’s Hill Place currently houses a private school, but the chalet has been moved into the town of Rochester and can be seen from the outside at Eastgate House on High Street. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt

Step back in time to gaslight-era New York City on the “Pages to Pavement” walking tour offered by Street Smarts N.Y. I recently took the tour and enjoyed the 2 1/2 hour walk through Washington Square, Gramercy Park, and other neighborhoods as our guide, Ellen, showed us settings from seven novels set in the mid- to late-1800s — Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, Henry James’ Washington Square, E.L. Doctorow’s merchants-house-museumRagtime, Jack Finney’s Time and Again and From Time to Time, and Caleb Carr’s The Alienist and Angel of Darkness.

Highlights for me were learning fun facts like how Teddy Roosevelt appears in five of the seven novels, hearing about the connection between Washington Square and the Merchant’s House Museum (right) and seeing Grace Church, where May Welland and Newland Archer are married in The Age of Innocence and where Edith Wharton, whose family was part of the city’s Gilded Age elite, was baptized.

If you’d like some exercise along with a foray into literary history, the next From Pages to Pavement tour takes place this Saturday, November 23rd, at 2:00 p.m. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt

white-horse1It was 55 years ago today that Welsh poet Dylan Thomas died in New York City while on a stateside reading tour. To mark the occasion, the Welsh Assembly Government in New York has put together the Dylan Thomas Walking Tour of Greenwich Village. It’s available as an MP3 file for download, or as a text version that can be printed out.

The tour highlights 10 sites associated with Thomas in Greenwich Village, including the White Horse Tavern, a place he frequented and one of my favorite literary watering holes. The 39-year-old writer’s luck ran out after he downed a reported 18 shots of whiskey at the tavern. He collapsed later that night at the Hotel Chelsea and never recovered.

Along with learning about Thomas’ Bohemian life in the Village, his favorite haunts, and places he performed, the audio tour has lines from some of his best-loved poems. At the tour’s end, be sure to stop by the White Horse for a taste of literary history. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt

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