Marcia Strykowski

The Concord Authors

Have you ever toured the home of a famous long-ago author? There are so many interesting stories behind writers and their homes, but I’m going to limit today’s brief visit to Concord, Massachusetts.

The Old Manse

The Old Manse

In 1834, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) went to live in what we now call the Old Manse. He completed the first draft of his first published work, Nature, in the upstairs study. Another famous author who lived there was Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864). He arrived in 1842 with his new bride for what he referred to as three of their happiest years. Hawthorne is the one who named it the Old Manse which means minister’s home.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson House

Ralph Waldo Emerson House

In 1835 Emerson purchased Bush which is now called the Ralph Waldo Emerson House. He moved in shortly after his second marriage and they raised their family there.

Thoreau (1817–1862) lived there briefly, as well, and was a frequent visitor. He later built his well-known cabin on Emerson’s property.

Henry David Thoreau   July 12, 1817--May 6, 1862

Henry David Thoreau

Louisa May Alcott  November 29, 1832--March 6, 1882

Louisa May Alcott

The Alcott family’s longest permanent residence was Orchard House where they lived from 1858 through 1877. Appropriately named, their land was filled with apple trees. This lovely location is where Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) wrote Little Women.

Orchard House

Orchard House

Before Orchard House, the Alcotts lived in a home they called Hillside. You can see Louisa’s father’s signature on this sketch of their home. They bought Hillside in 1845 and then sold it to Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1852. Following his tradition of naming his homes, he renamed this one The Wayside and it is still called that to this day. Isn’t it interesting to find two amazing authors who lived in the same house? But wait, there’s one more!

The Wayside

The Wayside

 

Margaret Sidney

Margaret Sidney

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Harriett Mulford Stone Lothrop (1844–1924) also lived at The Wayside. Who? Harriett wrote under the pen name of Margaret Sidney. Her most famous series was The Five Little Peppers. The first book was published in 1881, the same year she married the founder of the company who published it. (How convenient!) In 1883, the Lothrops bought The Wayside. After her husband died (their daughter was 9 years old at the time) Harriett continued to run the publishing company. Eventually she sold the company which later became Lothrop, Lee & Shepard. Oh, and by the way The Wayside is next door to Orchard House (did she move in to be next to Louisa?) Either way, Harriet worked hard to preserve both homes.

I’ve barely touched the surface here, but I hope you’ll look up more on this subject. There is a vast amount of fascinating history about these homes and the authors who lived in them. All of the above houses are open to visitors and can be found in Concord, Massachusetts. There are many other places of literary interest to visit in New England, but I’d like to point out two especially notable stops: Mark Twain’s gorgeous home in Hartford, CT (check out his neighbor’s place, too–Harriet Beecher Stowe!) and Edith Wharton’s estate in Lenox, MA.

26 Comments

  1. Art

    We haven’t made it to Hartford yet, but the Wharton estate in Lenox is absolutely gorgeous. The gardens are beautiful and the tour is excellent. it is well worth the trip if you are anywhere close by.

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    • Thanks for the great review! I’ll bet it’s beautiful there in summer. Even Hawthorne once lived in Lenox, in the “little red house”.

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  2. Interesting!I love stories about author homes. I once visited Hemingway’s house in Key West, FL.

    Yvonne

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    • Oh, Hemingway’s house must be interesting. I’ve seen pictures. Thanks for your comment!

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  3. I never tire of hearing these stories from history. Having visited them many times as a child, I enjoyed taking my children there to share a piece of literary history as well as a part of my own growing up years. Thank you for sharing this!

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    • Great, Joyce, you carried on the tradition and brought history alive for your children!

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  4. Bobbi Miller

    I LOVED Concord! I visited these homes many times. They reek of inspiration, deep thoughts, individualism and creativity. I loved this discussion, Marcia!

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    • Thanks, Bobbi! I’m glad you have visited all the Concord sites, such a nostalgic town.

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  5. mirkabreen

    I love visiting Victorian homes, period. But how wonderful that you have so many preserved writers’ homes close to you.

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    • I enjoy Victorian homes, too—their nooks and crannies are filled with character and charm.

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  6. I would love to visit some day. Don’t believe I’ve ever been in an author’s home. I have gone to a few schools with library’s named after a famous writer who attended the school. James Michener Library at University of Northern Colorado is one that comes to mind. He received his master’s degree there.

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    • Well, you’ve been in at least one author’s home, Greg—your own! 🙂

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  7. Ashley

    Another reason for me to visit New England someday and another super post!

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  8. I’ll keep Mark Twain’s house in mind when I visit New England (which sounds like a beautiful place). Having never visited any author’s house, I’d love to tour Dickens’s one day.

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    • I was lucky to visit one of Dickens’ homes in London (now the Dickens Museum) but I would have loved to see Gad’s Hill, as well. Thanks for your comment, Claudine!

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  9. I would love to visit one day. My mum and dad took me on a visit to Jane Austen’s house (now The Jane Austen House Museum) in Hampshire (UK) when I was a small girl. I have no memory of it, but I’ve seen the photographs in one of the old albums. The museum was established in 1947, and I was born a year later so I can assume my parents read about it and decided to visit. Such a shame I don’t remember I must go again one of these days.

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    • I’ve seen pictures of Jane’s house, looks like a good stop. I hope you’ll find time to revisit. Thanks for sharing, Barbara!

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  10. Sounds like a great road trip to take one day. I remember visiting a London house Dickens had once lived in; I found it quite moving and inspiring.

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    • A road trip would be perfect with so many homes in the same area. I find them especially inspiring when their desks and other personal items are on display. Thanks for stopping by, Jan.

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  11. Sounds very interesting! I visited Hemingway’s house in Key West. He had the first private swimming pool in America, I think. The descendants of his six-toed cats still live there!

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    • Ha, funny about the pool and the six-toed cats. Thanks for your comment!

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  12. Bette Norton

    I love your most interesting post on a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I have visited the Concord homesteads, as well as a few more Authors homesteads many times. I love the illustrations of the grand old homes that you post! A wonderful post! 🙂

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    • The illustrations were a fun find. Most are from Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, published around 1900. Thanks, Bette!

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  13. Great post – loved the history and synchronicity – fascinating. I remember being in Shakespeare’s room thinking “this is SO surreal”. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Oh wow, Shakespeare’s room would certainly be stepping way back into history. Thanks for your comment, Deborah (and for following!). 🙂

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