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My Antonía by Willa Cather – 100th Anniversary

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“I wanted to walk straight on through the red grass and over the edge of the world, which could not be very far away.” –My Antonía

Like Jim Burden, the narrator in My Antonía, a young Willa Cather moved from Virginia to the Nebraska prairie. Cather later lived in Pittsburgh and New York City (where she penned the novel) and traveled around the U.S. and Europe, but it’s with the Great Plains that she is most readily identified. In Red Cloud, Nebraska, the Willa Cather Foundation conducts tours of the author’s childhood home and other sites associated with her real and fictional worlds. In honor of the centennial of My Antonía’s publication, special events are taking place in Red Cloud and across the state through the fall and are listed at MyAntonia100.org.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – 150th Anniversary

A visit to Orchard House, the Alcott family home in Concord, Massachusetts, is like stepping into the pages of Little Women. Louisa May Alcott drew heavily on her family members and their home for the characters and the setting, and the storied abode remains largely as it did during their day.

Orchard House is open year-round and regularly offers interpretive tours, workshops for kids, holiday festivities, and more. Love for the March sisters and their story is universal, though, and readers around the world can celebrate at a wide array of exhibits and other happenings. Check out the list of events at LittleWomen150.org.

Emily Brontë’s 200th Birthday (July 30, 1818)

Wuthering Heights was hewn in a wild workshop,” Charlotte Brontë said of her sister Emily’s famed (and only) novel. The wild workshop was the dramatically scenic moorland around the village of Haworth in West Yorkshire, England. A several-mile walk on the moors leads past a waterfall the Brontës often visited and then on to Top Withens, the stone ruins of a remote farm credited as being the geographical setting of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff’s domain.

Visitors can also explore the Brontë Parsonage Museum, the beautifully restored Georgian parsonage where the wordsmiths lived and wrote. The museum is in the midst of a five-year bicentennial celebration, Brontë 200, which commemorates the 200th anniversaries of the births of siblings Charlotte, Emily, Branwell, and Anne Brontë. The new exhibit “Making Thunder Roar: Emily Brontë” showcases a selection of Emily’s possessions, writing, and artwork, along with contributions from well-known contemporary admirers of the novelist.

John Steinbeck – 50th Anniversary of His Death (December 20, 1968)

One of the most impressive literary shrines anywhere is the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California, a purpose-built museum dedicated to John Steinbeck’s life and works. Thematic galleries with interactive exhibits, mini-theaters showing film adaptions of his novels, and unique features like an oversize, light-up crossword puzzle for testing one’s Steinbeck smarts make it both informative and entertaining.

The brick-and-glass building anchors one end of Main Street in the city’s Oldtown section, which is depicted in East of Eden. Use the Center’s interactive map to take a self-guided tour of Steinbeck-related sites in Oldtown, ending at the writer’s childhood home. Down the street from the National Steinbeck Center (which marks its 20th anniversary this year) is the Steinbeck House, a Queen Anne-style Victorian abode that has operated as a luncheon restaurant since 1974.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – 200th anniversary

At a villa in Switzerland during an unusually stormy summer, Lord Byron suggested to his housebound guests – Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley among them – that they each conjure up a horror tale to help pass the time. The winner of the friendly competition was Mary, who penned Frankenstein after dreaming the idea for the story.

The Keats-Shelley Association of America is spearheading an international celebration of Frankenstein‘s anniversary. Events are taking place throughout the year, culminating in “Frankenweek” from October 24-31. Worldwide events – such as book discussions, stage productions, film screenings, and full and partial readings of the novel (reciting the entire text takes about 9 hours) – are listed on Frankenreads.org. Also check in with bookstores, museums, libraries, and universities in your area to find out what Frankenstein-related fun they might be planning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since the 1945 publication of John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row, literary travelers have been drawn to the seaside town of Monterey, California. A must-see is the diminutive, weather-beaten dwelling at 800 Cannery Row, once the home and professional domain of Ed Ricketts–a marine biologist, Steinbeck’s close friend, and the inspiration for the character Doc in Cannery Row. The Cannery Row Foundation gives tours of “Doc’s lab” on select days throughout the year, including this Saturday, February 27th, to commemorate Steinbeck’s birthday.

Steinbeck was a frequent visitor to the lab in the 1930s, along with other writers and artists who showed up for the legendary parties that sometimes went on for days.  He would often walk the short distance from his cottage in nearby Pacific Grove to Cannery Row, where he indulged in “whiskey and conversation” with Ricketts. “Life on Cannery Row,” Steinbeck reminisced years later, “was curious and dear and outrageous.”

Tours are given hourly from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The cost is $15 per person. For more information, visit www.canneryrow.org.

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#LiteraryParis ... Paris is one of my favorite literary locales and not just for all the #classicwriters associated with the city. The Aimée Leduc Investigations series by @carablack51 is set in the 1990s, and each novel takes place in a different part of Paris. The series is terrific and smart and great fun for mystery fans and armchair travelers. As the Washington Post Book World aptly put it, “Leduc’s City of Light is a stylish, dangerous place.” ... One thing I especially like is the trivia about writers, musicians, and other famous figures the author weaves into the narratives. For example, in MURDER IN THE MARAIS, Aimée Leduc’s debut, she joins a tour group at the Victor Hugo House to elude some men chasing her and then hides out there after hours. In MURDER IN BELLEVILLE, an impromptu escape route leads through the Edith Piaf Museum, while in MURDER ON THE CHAMP DE MARS she hails a taxi beside a plaque marking Edith Wharton’s residence on the rue de Varenne. ... If you’re new to the series, there are a whopping 18 novels to discover, including the largest page-turner coming in June. Plus, a free e-book, “The Aimée Leduc Companion: A Guide to Cara Black’s Paris,” highlights sites in the novel as well as some of Black’s favorite places. Time for some trip planning! ... #noveldestinations #literarytravel #wanderlustwednesday #carablack #sohopress #mysteries #books #bookstagram #instabook #armchairtravel #bookish #booklove #paris
#WanderlustWednesday #LiteraryParis ... “It is the conversation of Paris that I always miss so. That and the Luxembourg Gardens and the wine and the newspapers.” —Ernest Hemingway in a 1925 letter 🌸 One of the most literary sites in a city filled with them is the Luxembourg Gardens, which is used as the setting in countless novels from classic to contemporary. In Hemingway’s THE SUN ALSO RISES, Jake Barnes notices the chestnut-trees in bloom as he sips coffee and reads the newspapers. In Victor Hugo’s LES MISERABLES, Marius first sees Cosette amid the flower-beds that “shed forth balm and dazzling beauty.” 🌸 More recently, the Gardens are mentioned often in Cara Black’s excellent Aimée Leduc Investigations series set in 1990s Paris. And in Eleanor Brown’s THE LIGHT OF PARIS, a character has “a pleasant picnic by the Medici Fountain in the Luxembourg Gardens” (a must-do activity while in Paris). 🌸 #paris #parisinbloom #luxembourggardens #literaryparis #noveldestinations #literarytravel #storiedsettings #hemingway #hemingwaywashere #carablack @carablack51 #eleanorbrown @eleanorwrites #books #classics #booksandtravel #bookstagram #wanderlust #wanderlustwednesday
Happy 165th birthday to #VincentVanGogh. ... It seems a fitting day to return to the mammoth biography VAN GOGH: THE LIFE, which I had started before I left for Spain. I read 550 of the 900 pages and then stopped. I didn’t want to rush through the rest because I had just gotten to what for me is the most interesting part: Van Gogh’s arrival in Provence. And there was no way the book was going on the road with me since it would have taken up half the space in my backpack. ... In 1889, Van Gogh voluntarily checked himself into the Monastery of Saint Paul de Mausole, an asylum in the hills above Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. He spent most of the last year of his life there and produced an impressive 150 paintings, including Starry Night. ... Both Saint-Rémy and Arles, the larger and more famous Provençal town associated with the artist, have self-guided walks leading to places he depicted on canvas. Of the two towns, I found more shades of Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy. It’s less developed than Arles, particularly the area surrounding Saint Paul de Mausole. Van Gogh was initially confined to the immediate asylum grounds, painting scenes he saw from his window and inside the walled garden. He was later allowed to venture further afield to paint scenes like the cypress trees and olive groves that still thrive there. ... Today Saint Paul de Mausole is a sanatorium for women where art is used as therapy. Along with seeing a recreation of Van Gogh’s rooms—a sleeping chamber and an adjoining studio—visitors can stroll through the garden, the cloisters, and a Romanesque chapel. ... #vangogh #provence #saintremy #artfuldestinations #biographies #bookstagram #booklove #booksandtravel

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