Boston, as one of the oldest cities in the United States, has a long literary history. American authors including Louisa May Alcott and even British authors including Charles Dickens have worked there. Countless books were set here, including modern fan favorites such as “Mystic River” by Dennis Lehane and classics like “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Because of these great authors and novels, Boston has a dearth of literary landmarks. Some of them are obvious and even offered on walking tours. Others are hidden beneath layers of history, but the best are right here in this list.
129 Bedford St.
Concord, MA 01742
Concord, a town to the northwest of Boston, is famous for being the location of the first battle of the American Revolution. It is also home to several well-known authors’ graves. Louisa May Alcott, who wrote of Concord in her novel “Little Women,” is buried there at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery alongside her family. Nathaniel Hawthorne, who made the term “scarlet letter” synonymous with social pariah, is also buried there. They are accompanied by many more on so-called Author’s Row. However, this is not Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow.
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455 Lexington Road
Concord, MA 01742
The Wayside, a home built in 1700, was connected to literature from the first family that lived there. It was built by Daniel Lothrop, a publisher who lived there with his wife Harriett, a children’s author. Louisa May Alcott lived there with her family, as well as in Orchard House next door. Orchard House is more famous as Alcott’s home than The Wayside. The Wayside is more known as the home of Nathaniel Hawthorne, who lived there from 1852 to 1870.
Sylvia Plath’s First Home
24 Prince St.
Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA 02130
Sylvia Plath’s first home, 24 Prince St., is lesser known and quite commonplace, but still full of history. Plath’s lasting works and her tragic life make her a both saddening and romantic figure in the annals of literary history. She was born Oct. 27, 1932 and lived in this private home with her family for only three years. Some argue these years may have been some of her only truly happy years. She spent most of her later life fighting mental illness until she succumbed to it and committed suicide, sticking her head in a gas oven, at the age of 30.
Paul Revere House
19 North St.
Boston, MA 02113
The Paul Revere House on the Freedom Trail in Boston once belonged to the patriot himself. He had very little to do with literature, but authors have long loved to put him in their novels, stories and poems. Such is the case with Esther Forbes, who wrote “Paul Revere and the World he Lived In,” and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote “Paul Revere’s Ride.” Revere and this house figure prominently in Forbes’ period novel “Johnny Tremaine” as well.
Julia Child’s House
103 Irving St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
When Julia Child and her husband lived in Massachusetts, they resided on Irving Street in Cambridge. It was here that so many of her cooking shows and specials were taped. Julia Child is the author of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” and the subject of recent movie “Julie and Julia” about a chef working to connect with her cooking. Hers is one of the most-beloved cookbooks of all time.
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Shelly Barclay is a professional freelance writer and amateur author. She writes on a variety of topics from food to mysteries. She loves to share the culture and rich history of her birthplace and home, Boston, with the rest of the world. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.