If your heart’s desire is to explore the land of the Hobbits or you’ve ever wondered where Mark Twain got his inspiration, you can find answers and more on a literary vacation. Discover the places where writers like Louisa May Alcott and Herman Melville toiled away as they wrote great American novels. See authentic handwritten manuscripts or explore original movie sets designed for film adaptations of famous literary works. Literary vacations offer a rare opportunity to learn about famous authors, their lives, and their work.
Originally published in its entirety in July 1954, “The Lord of the Rings” is a fantasy trilogy that has to date sold over 150 million copies. A whole new generation of fans discovered Middle Earth when a series of popular films were released in the early 2000s. Tolkien wrote his epic novels in England and a tour of his homes clearly shows where he got much of his inspiration.
His boyhood in Birmingham was in close proximity to Perrott’s Folly and Edgbaston Waterworks that look eerily like the Two Towers of the books. Tolkien spent his early married life in Warwick, where Nordic architecture inspired his creation of Rohan. Other must-see locations include Kingston Upon Hull in Yorkshire, the Yorkshire moors and forests, and Oxford. Tolkien’s home in Oxford is a registered historical site and open to visitors.
Explore the land of the Hobbits made famous in the films in New Zealand. Many of the official film sites are open to the public. Packaged tours are available that let you experience the beauty of the Hobbit village movie set and talk to extras who appeared in the films. Many tours also include some of New Zealand’s most breath-taking attractions, such as glowworm caves, geysers, and mountains. Check with your favorite travel-booking website for package details and prices.
Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer are two of America’s most famous literary characters. A trip to Hannibal, Missouri, where Mark Twain lived until he was a 17-year-old, provides insight into the early life of Samuel Clemens and his inspirations.
The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum includes Twain’s boyhood home and the homes of Tom Blankenship and Laura Hawkins, the real-life Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher. Riverboats and cruise tours include Jackson Island, where Huck Finn and Jim, the runaway slave, hid. Other attractions around Hannibal include the Mark Twain Caves and live shows portraying Twain’s life.
Concord, Massachusetts, is where 19-century literary greats Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson lived and worked. Thoreau’s Walden Pond is open to the public. The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods houses original manuscripts from Thoreau as well as Emerson. Alcott’s home dates back to 1690 and is where she wrote: “Little Women” and “Little Men,” based on her own real-life experiences.