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Historic author houses are among the best places to get a fix of nostalgic holiday cheer. Here are some literary sites where you can enjoy the seasonal festivities:

The Enchanted Garden at the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, comes alive with thousands of lights during “Poe’s Christmas Illumination” on December 1 from 5-9 p.m. Along with free admission, enjoy mulled wine and take a holiday-themed tour with the museum’s curator.

A visit to Louisa May Alcott’s home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts, is like stepping into the pages of Little Women. It’s only fitting then that this year’s December theme is “A Little Women Christmas” since the novel opens during the holiday season. Meet Louisa and other costumed figures and participate in Victorian-era activities and caroling. The program takes place on weekends in December, and advance reservations are strongly recommended.

The Pearl S. Buck House in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, hosts the annual “Festival of Trees,” with 29 artists, organizations, and community groups decorating the author’s home. Not only is the holiday finery lush and imaginative, some of it conveys a message, too, carrying on Buck’s legacy as a social activist. Through December 30.

Step back in time at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut, which is adorned in the style of a late-19th-century Christmas. The author’s abode is one of several sites participating in the “Friends of the Mark Twain House & Museum’s Holiday House Tour” on December 3.

In Monterey, California, 22 historic homes are open to visitors during “Christmas in the Adobes,” including rare access to the Lara-Soto Adobe once owned by John Steinbeck. At the Robert Louis Stevenson House—now a museum devoted to the Scottish scribe, who lived for a time in the seaside city—shortbread will be served and bagpipes will be playing. December 8 and 9.

The Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts, is celebrating the poet’s birthday on December 9 from 1-4 p.m. with homemade coconut made from Dickinson’s own recipe. Admission is free during the event, and a special guided tour, “Christmas with the Dickinsons,” is on offer.

The Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is hosting a Holiday Open House on December 15 and Holiday House Tours on December 16. Along with touring the poet’s lovely home (previously General George Washington’s headquarters during the Revolutionary War), take a stroll through the illuminated gardens and listen to Christmas carols.

In a nod to his debut novel Look Homeward, Angel, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial in Asheville, North Carolina, is putting on “An Angel Christmas” on December 16. Festivities include an exhibition of angel wreaths on the doors and angel figurines displayed throughout the historic 29-room home, where Wolfe’s mother once ran a boardinghouse.

In Salem, Massachusetts, the House of the Seven Gables (Nathaniel Hawthorne’s inspiration for his gothic novel), is presenting “Four Centuries of Christmas Tours.” Walks the halls of the seaside mansion that has stood since 1668, as guides share the history of Christmas in New England. Through December 31.

[Photos © Pearl S. Buck International, Poe Museum, and Orchard House.]

 

Our friend Jennifer Hart at www.BookClubGirl.com wrote earlier this week about a fundraiser taking place on September 23rd to benefit the Mark Twain House & Museum, which is in danger of closing. The extravaganza, “Writers Reading for Twain,” features authors Sara Gruen, Tasha Alexander, David Gates, Phillip Lopate, Tom Perrotta, Arthur Phillips, Stewart O’Nan, Amy MacKinnon, Kristy Kiernan, Robert Hicks, Andy Carroll, Philip Beard, and Jon Clinch (whose novel Finn reimagines the life of Huckleberry Finn’s father). Admission is $40 for the reading/signing and $100 to attend a reception along with the reading/signing. Click here for more information about the event.

Jennifer has an excellent suggestion for book club members looking for a way to help support the Mark Twain House, as well as Edith Wharton’s estate, The Mount, in the Berkshires, which is also facing financial troubles: select a Twain or Wharton work to read in your book club and have each member bring $10-20 to donate to the respective author house. If you’re feeling especially generous, do it for both! My book club recently read The House of Mirth, and in our twelve years of meeting we all agreed that it inspired one of our best discussions ever. 

And for further proof that classic literary scribes never go out of style (see Tuesday’s post about Edgar Allan Poe making headlines), there is more Mark Twain news. HarperStudio, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, just announced plans to publish Who is Mark Twain? — a collection of 22 previously unpublished short pieces written by Twain — on April 21, 2009, the 99th anniversary of the writer’s death. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt 

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“Ford followed him through the central hall of the Library to the East Room, whose walls were covered with bookshelves. There were two upper tiers with promenades of frosted glass and polished brass balustrades so that any book could be easily removed from its place no matter how high. Morgan walked up to the far wall, pressed the spine of a certain book, and part of the shelving swung away to reveal a passageway through which a man could pass.” ... I changed the order of the five NYC-set novels I added to my TBR, delving into Ragtime first. A guest I had in town wanted to visit the Morgan Library, which is a setting for a scene in the story, so it seemed only fitting to start with this one. The story is an homage to NYC, an intriguing blend of fictional characters and real people, set in the tumultuous years leading up to World War I and told in a style that is both dreamlike and gritty. I’m a little more than halfway through, and I already know I’m going to be reluctant to finish because I won’t want it to end. ... #nyc #nycreads #morganlibrary #ragtime #eldoctorow #literarylandmarks #noveldestinations #booksofig #igreads #classicbooks #bookstagram #book @themorganlibrary
I love browsing at the library with no specific titles in mind, just seeing what catches my eye. Like these three novels, all of which I’m excited to read. But I may have been a bit overzealous because first I need to finish the three other books I have going right now. #readingresponsibilities #booksbooksbooks #milkman #annaburns #theparagonhotel #lyndsayfaye #unmarriageable #soniahkamal #bookstack #bookstagram #booksofig #igreads #bookwormproblems #library #librarybooks #hobokenlibrary @hobokenlibrary #springreads @graywolfpress @penguinrandomhouse @putnambooks @lyndsayfaye @soniahkamal
I borrowed The House of Mirth from the library to use in the book stack in my last post, and I couldn’t resist re-reading it. It’s one of my favorite Edith Wharton works, along with Glimpses of the Moon. ... Wharton wrote The House of Mirth, the novel that launched her into literary superstardom, in an upstairs bedroom suite overlooking the gardens at The Mount, her estate in the Berkshire Mountains in Lenox, Massachusetts. In addition to crafting Gilded Age fiction, Wharton had a talent for architecture and landscape design. She designed The Mount’s three-story, 42-room mansion (see next pic) and elaborate French- and Italianate-style gardens. Wharton told a friend, “Decidedly, I’m a better landscape gardener than a novelist, and this place, every line of which is my own work, far surpasses The House of Mirth.” ... #thehouseofmirth #edithwharton #themount #lenoxmass #noveldestinations #classics #literarytravel #books #springreading #bookstagram #booksofig #igreads @themountlenox

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