In New England, history is as thick as the soil. Of special note are the homes and estates of the nation's greatest writers. For many of us, visiting these homes helps keep the literature alive. Here is a sampling of what the region has to offer.
Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House
399 Lexington Road, Concord, Mass.
(978) 369-4118. Admission: $9
The place where Alcott wrote "Little Women" and the book's setting. She was already a writer by the time the family moved to Concord in 1858, but she also worked as a seamstress and teacher while living here. Philosopher father's lecture hall is in back.
The Emily Dickinson Museum
280 Main St., Amherst, Mass.
(413) 542-8161. Admission: $8 to $10
Museum consists of two homes, the Homestead, where Dickinson spent much of her life, and next door, the Evergreens, built by her brother and sister-in-law. Tour guides explain many of the myths and realities surrounding the poet's life.
The Nathaniel Hawthorne House
115 Derby St., Salem, Mass.
(978) 744-0991. Admission: $12
Site of the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, better known to the world as "The House of the Seven Gables," the building that inspired Hawthorne's book of the same name. It is one of the oldest 17th century wood mansions in New England.
The Mark Twain House
351 Farmington Ave., Hartford, Conn.
(860) 247-0998. Admission: $14
This custom-built Victorian, designed to resemble a riverboat, was occupied by Twain and his family from 1874 to 1891, Twain's most productive years as a writer. The brick building is filled with original furniture and decorations.
The Ralph Waldo Emerson House
28 Cambridge Turnpike, Concord, Mass. (978) 369-2236. Admission: $7
Emerson lived most of his life in this house, where he died in 1882. It is where he wrote many of his most famous works. The house is still owned by the Emerson family and contains much of the original furnishings.
Herman Melville's Arrowhead
780 Holmes St., Pittsfield, Mass.
(413) 442-1793. Admission: $12
The years Melville spent in Massachusetts, 1850-63, were his most productive. He wrote four novels here, including his masterpiece "Moby-Dick." Melville loved the area and incorporated the house and region into much of his work.
-- Alex Deuben