Chapter One

Standing in the Assembly Rooms in Bath, England, which were the inspiration for many of Jane Austen’s ballroom scenes, 2009

I’ve stood on Jane Austen’s front porch, at the foot of John Keats’ bed and over Percy and Mary Shelley’s gravestone. Deep in the moors of Northern England, I hiked six miles in the rain to Emily Bronte’s assumed motivation behind Wuthering Heights.

A few years ago, I traveled to Scotland on a solo pilgrimage to the land of my ancestors. Edinburgh’s winding alleys and steep, historic stairways immediately captured my heart. One evening I decided to embark on a guided literary pub tour through the city’s historic watering holes. I nursed a pint of Guinness at a wooden table in the middle of an ancient stone courtyard and listened to two gorgeous Scottish men recite Robert Burns poetry and discuss Robert Louis Stevenson’s inspiration. It was heaven to me.

I’ve traipsed through Forster’s Florence, and toasted the American dream on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s grave in Maryland. I’ve waltzed through Jane Austen’s Georgian ballrooms, purchased flowers in Virginia Woolf’s Bloomsbury and hiked through the English countryside to Thomas Hardy’s boyhood home. Closer to home, I’ve stood in the inner sanctum of Eugene O’Neill’s Tao House, climbed to the site of Stevenson’s “Silverado Squatters,” and absorbed the inspiration of John Muir’s “Scribble Den.”

Last year, while researching my Masters’ thesis (about the preservation of historic literary homes and sites), I fell in love with John Steinbeck. I visited every site related to him in Northern

On the Bronte moors, Yorkshire, England, 1998

California, and then took a journey to visit the cottage in the English countryside where he lived for a year in 1959 while researching the Arthurian legends. The stories that emerged from that visit, and from the others mentioned here, are worthy of entire blog posts to come.

I live for these pilgrimages. There is an indescribable feeling that washes over me when I stand in the midst of these ghosts of literary genius.  The spirits remain in those places and their timeless words seem to permeate the walls.

And so, at the risk of divulging my inner-most nerdiness, I’ve decided to begin my own blog. It’s been one year since graduating from my Masters program – a two-year program that changed my life. Writing my thesis was the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done and I truthfully miss the experience of diving into the depths of this strange passion I have and writing for a purpose. This is mostly a way for me to chronicle the things that have inspired me and perhaps inspire someone else along the way. Thanks for reading!

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I stood on Jane Austen’s front porch, at the foot of Keats’ bed and over Percy and Mary Shelley’s gravestone. In Haworth, where the Brontes lived and wrote, I hiked six miles to Emily’s supposed motivation behind Wuthering Heights. I stood on those rolling moors, below a churning sky and understood fully and completely where the Bronte’s found their inspiration.

Last September, I traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland on a solo pilgrimage to the land of my ancestors. From the moment my train crossed the England/Scotland border, I felt a powerful connection with my heritage. Edinburgh’s winding alleys and steep, historic stairways immediately captured my heart. The history was palpable. One evening I decided to embark on a guided literary pub tour through the city’s historic watering holes. I nursed a pint of Guinness at a wooden table in the middle of an ancient stone courtyard and listened to two Scottish men recite Robert Burns poetry.  While a seemingly simple tourist gimmick, for me it was an unforgettable, life-changing experience.

I’ve stood on Monet’s waterlilly bridge, traipsed through Forster’s Florence, and toasted the American dream on Fitzgerald’s grave. I’ve waltzed through Jane Austen’s Georgian ballrooms, and purchased flowers in Virginia Woolf’s Bloomsbury.

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6 thoughts on “Chapter One

  1. Yay! Way to put that degree to use! Can’t wait to see what you have in store, and I’ll definitely pass your url on to Randy.

  2. What can rock and gentle the soul as much as passionate journeys thru the world, the heart, and the mind? I raise a glass of wine to you and seatbelt myself in to share your explorations of same – Nurit

  3. Just after reading one blog, I’m already captivated and inspired.
    I’m SO glad Indra sent me your website. I’m really looking forward to more.

  4. Wow, Julia… I absolutely LOVE your blog! I’m so happy you stopped by mine so I could discover yours. 🙂

    I’m a writer and an Anglophile that happens to be obsessed with British Romantic & Gothic literature. Like yourself I absolutely love the idea of “literary pilgrimages.” Whenever I travel I try to visit the homes, historical settings, etc. of writers I admire (much to my husband’s annoyance). I haven’t had the opportunity to travel as much I’d like to but my favorite trip was a journey to Britain in 2000 and while I was there I visited John Keats’ home, pubs that Bram Stoker hung out at and as many locations associated with Lord Byron and the Shelley’s as I was able to. Needless to say I can’t wait to make some time to explore your blog more! It’s a treasure.

    1. Thanks for the note, Kimberly 🙂 How interesting that we share that same love of literary history. There’s quite a bit in this area to explore as you will find. Glad that we’ve connected in the blogosphere and I hope to stay in touch.

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