Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Location: Books & Such Central Valley, California Office
I returned from vacation only twenty hours ago and I’ve decided to extend my holiday frame of mind this week by talking about my favorite kind of travel — the literary pilgrimage.
There’s no denying it. We are book people. Yes, we are professionals who either work in the publishing industry or authors who publish in the industry. Or we are writers working toward being published—professionals all. But, truth be told, one only needs to scratch the surface to find the book enthusiast in all of us. I’m no different.
If you’ve observed an editor panel or an agent panel at a writer’s conference you probably noticed the somewhat detached professionalism until someone asks the question, “What’s the best book you’ve ever read?” Expressions change, everyone wants to jump in and the conversation becomes animated. We love books—plain and simple.
For me, reading a beloved book is often only the beginning. I find myself yearning to learn more about the author and the history surrounding the book. And even more, I long to experience the setting first hand.
A few weeks ago a group of friends gathered at our house for dinner. The talk turned to travel. Our pastor and his wife returned last year from a six-month sabbatical where they studied in the Middle East—following the travels of Paul through the Holy Land, Greece and Turkey. Other couples had also traveled through the Bible lands. When it came my turn to talk about travels, I had to laugh. Talk about priorities. I’d never been to the cradle of civilization but I had been to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s home, sat on Emily Dickenson’s porch at sunset, stayed in National Hawthorne’s springhouse, slept in Thomas Jefferson’s room in Williamsburg. . .
Just four days ago, I visited Anne of Green Gables’ beloved Prince Edward Island. We first went to the home of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s cousins– the inspiration for Silver Bush. We stopped for a glass of raspberry cordial before driving by the author’s birthplace. Then we went to the house that inspired Green Gables. If I were not throwing professionalism to the wind this week, I’d spend the rest of the blog talking about the importance of setting. Instead I’ll just share a few photos and admit that I was like Anne-girl herself, discovering the beauty of the Lake of Shining Waters and the eerie feeling of the Haunted Woods. Walking over to the barn made me wish I’d find Matthew inside milking the cow.
The rest of the week I’ll share other literary pilgrimages I’ve taken—some, the settings for favorite books, others the authors’ own environment. There are so many places I still long to visit—Mark Twain’s Hannibal, Missouri; The Laura Ingall’s Wilder Little House trail, Betsy, Tacy & Tib’s Deep Valley in Mankto, MN, Tasha Tudor’s home in Vermont, C. S. Lewis (and Dorothy L. Sayers, Lewis Carroll and Tolkien’s) stomping grounds at Oxford. . . I could go on and on.
My question for you is two-fold: If you’ve also taken a literary pilgrimage, tell us about it. And, if you could visit any literary destination, what would it be?