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
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!