Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Boston Bite 2 - Literature

Out of New England come a large number of literary superstars - Twain, Beecher Stowe, Alcott, Thoreau, Emerson, and Hawthorne to name a few. We took the time to visit a number of their houses and museums, as well as buy lots of books! Thanks to the Harvard Book Store Lucy and I were able to stock up our shelves at good prices. The store sells 'remainders' at excellent prices so we just couldn't resist adding a few more pounds to our luggage much to Andrew's chagrin. Incidentally I've already read 2 of the 8 books purchased!

1. Orchard House in Concord MA, home of Louisa May Alcott
This is the house where 'Little Women' was both set and written. The story was based on Louisa's real sisters and parents and the house they lived in. We took a tour through the School of Philosophy (set up by Amos Bronson Alcott a transcendental philosopher and teacher) and through the family house. It is like walking through the book as so much is familiar. Due to Lucy's restlessness we were given our own private tour of the house - through the kitchen, study and bedrooms. When the tour guides found out she is sometimes called Lulu they were ecstatic. Louisa's sister Anna had a daughter called Lulu and when Anna died Lulu (at 2 years old) went to live with Louisa in Orchard House. So it was perfect to have a 2 year Lulu in the house again! Check out the house for yourself here. We purchased John Matteson 2008 Pulitzer prize winner "Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father" from the gift shop here.

2. Mark Twain's House in Hartford CT
Mark Twain commissioned this house to be built in 1874 and lived here until financial circumstances forced a change. It is a very ornate and modern house featuring 7 bathrooms, a telephone, a glassed garden area and a billiards room. We saw the desk in the billiards room where he wrote a number of his famous works. The billiards room ceiling and windows are personally decorated with cues and cigars, Twain's favourite items. Twain lived a very interesting life becoming the first global celebrity, even touring Australia on a lecture tour. Check out this website for more information.

3. Harriet Beecher Stowe's House in Hartford CT
Surprisingly this house is next door to Mark Twain's house! HBS moved here in her 60's (when MT was about 30) so there wasn't a lot of interaction between the two neighbours. HBS wrote her famous novel 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' in Maine before she moved here. The novel was one of the sparks that started the US Civil War to end slavery. If you haven't read it, do so!

4. Duck sculpture in the Public Gardens in Boston, based on Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings

Winner of the 1942 Caldecott Medal this awesome book tells the tale of the Mallard family who come to live in the Public Gardens in Boston. Last time we were here Lucy couldn't walk and we had to place her on the ducks. This time we couldn't stop her jumping on every single duck and she ended up with some very wet trousers! She had to say hello to Mrs Mallard, Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack and Quack!

5. Curious George Bookstore at Harvard in Cambridge MA
Lucy had a ball in this bookshop/toyshop near Harvard. She got a Curious George tshirt, a Curious George book and a small soft toy version of the monkey himself.

6. Walden Pond Concord MA where Henry David Thoreau lived for 2 years
Lucy and I drove through Walden Pond State Reserve on the way home from Concord. We saw Thoreau's walking stick and various other memorabilia at the Concord museum earlier in the day. Thoreau was a man ahead of his time urging people to 'simplify', a slogan still used today and now ironically embalzoned on tshirts in the gift shop.

7. Old Manse Concord MA, where Ralph Waldo Emerson penned 'Nature'

We walked past the Old Manse where Emerson wrote and Hawthorne lived for a time. It is right next to the Old North Bridge where the war for Independence against the British started. In fact Rev. Emerson (Ralph's grandfather) watched the battle from the study window.