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Famous Connecticut Authors: Literary Landmarks in the Nutmeg State

April 2, 2021 12:07 pm

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When it comes to literary legacy and excellence, Connecticut has no shortage of famous authors. The homes of many famous authors have been transformed into museums that help visitors get a sense of the experiences that inspired these authors’ stories.

Here’s a look at some of the must-see literary attractions in the nutmeg state and the authors who called it home. And when you are done with your tour, grab a book and snuggle up in a luxurious guestroom at a nearby Delamar location.

Noah Webster House – West Hartford

The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society is located in the restored 18th-century birthplace and childhood home of Noah Webster. Although a prolific writer, he is best known for creating the first American English dictionary that also bears his name.

Webster was an ardent patriot and believed that to be an independent country, America needed to teach its children to speak, write, and spell in American English, rather than British English. His The Blue-Backed Speller and An American Dictionary of the English Language—which took 26 years to complete and contained more than 65,000 words and their definitions—helped to standardize American spelling. The house and museum preserve and celebrate Noah Webster’s legacy through poetry nights, book talks, and author events.

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center – Hartford

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was an abolitionist and the author of over 30 books, but she is perhaps best remembered for her best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Published in 1852, the novel became widely popular in the north for exposing the inhumanity of slavery and the treatment of African-Americans in the south. It is said that the novel helped lay the foundation for the American Civil War. 

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is home to Stowe’s home, as well as Victorian grounds and gardens. The museum explores her life and works but also holds regular programs that help visitors connect the social issues of the past — such as slavery and the role of women — to the present. 

Mark Twain House – Hartford

The Mark Twain House was once home to legendary writer Samuel L. Clemens, who wrote under the name Mark Twain. He first came to Hartford in 1868 while writing The Innocents Abroad and fell in love with the city. A few years later, he hired Edward Tuckerman Potter to design and build his dream house in Hartford in the style of Victorian Gothic architecture. 

This 25-room Victorian home-turned museum is where he lived with his family from 1874 to 1891 and wrote many of his famous novels, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, A Tramp Abroad, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. The house has been named “one of the ten best historic homes in the world” by National Geographic and is a must-see for anyone exploring the rich literary history of Connecticut. 

Monte Cristo Cottage – New London

The Monte Cristo Cottage is the childhood summer home of Eugene O’Neill, America’s only Nobel Prize-winning playwright. Registered as a National Historic Landmark in 1971, the Cottage is the setting for two of O’Neill’s most notable works, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and Ah, Wilderness!

The cottage is named in honor of Eugene O’Neill’s father, actor James O’Neill, and his role as Edmond Dantès in the 1934 film The Count of Monte Cristo. It now operates as a museum with a permanent exhibition on the life and works of Eugene O’Neill, as well as an extensive collection of artifacts and memorabilia. 

Gillette Castle – East Haddam

Built atop one of a series of hills known as the Seven Sisters, this castle was once home to William Gillette, an American playwright, screenwriter, and actor. Gillette initially got his start being cast by Mark Twain in a theatrical adaptation of The Gilded Age. But his real stardom came with the play he adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and later in the film, which he also wrote. 

The outside of the castle looks like a medieval fortress. It went through extensive restoration in the early 2000s, and now includes a visitors’ center, museum, hiking trails, and picnic areas.

Explore the Literary History of Connecticut

Connecticut has been a vital part of American history and story, whether it’s in the arts, government, or literacy. When you’re exploring the rich literary history of Connecticut, be sure to book your stay at a hotel that offers a convenient home base to your landmarks, but doesn’t compromise on luxurious details, comfort, and COVID protocols. 

With three elegant, dog-friendly locations throughout Connecticut (Greenwich, Southport, and West Hartford), Delamar offers relaxing stays and joyful experiences to all our guests.

Image by Jim Heaphy