Connecticut’s love affair with words began in 1758 with the birth of Noah Webster in this simple West Hartford farmhouse. Webster wrote The Blue-Backed Speller, which standardized American English, and his magnum opus, An American Dictionary of the English Language. See how his family lived on the eve of the Revolution and hear his story—you can learn a lot here.
Wherever the story of American culture is written, Connecticut is in the mix. With that in mind, why not get out to visit some of Connecticut’s literary landmarks? The range of options is impressive; here’s a Getaway that incorporates five of the state’s brighter stars.
Now drive in to Hartford, where Sam Clemens, aka Mark Twain, lived from 1874 to 1891, when the city was “the Athens of America.” The Mark Twain House, a 25-room Victorian Gothic manse, remains a showstopper, from the author's billiard/smoking room, where he wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, to the library/conservatory, where he regaled his daughters with fanciful tales.
Next door you’ll find the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center located in the smaller “cottage” where the Uncle Tom’s Cabin author moved in 1873 with her husband, biblical scholar Calvin Stowe. It too reflects its owner: She was artsy, earthy and “modern” (her kitchen was state-of-the-art—in fact, she co-authored the period’s best-selling American Woman’s Home). You come away appreciating her as an American original. Next, head southeast for your overnight.
Wind up your literary odyssey at Monte Cristo Cottage (seasonal), an unprepossessing house overlooking the Sound in nearby New London. Named for the Count of Monte Cristo, the role popularized by actor James O’Neill, it was the boyhood summer home of his son Eugene and the setting for the playwright’s Ah, Wilderness! and Long Day’s Journey Into Night. You’ll gain rare insights into O’Neill’s world here.