Literature Lovers Connecticut Last Updated: November 2023
If your passion lies in the pages of great literature, Connecticut is the place for you. The state is filled with literary landmarks, unique spots to find rare books, quaint cafés for eating and reading – it’s so simple to plan the perfect getaway centered on celebrating literature!
Attention literature lovers – Connecticut is a treasure trove for literary landmarks. Visit the homes and settings of famous authors and books and put yourself directly into literary history.
Ernest Hemingway once declared that “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” You can visit the magnificent Victorian Gothic mansion where Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, lived with his family from 1874 to 1891 as he wrote "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "Life on the Mississippi" and "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," among other works. Tours of the Mark Twain House & Museum are available throughout the day.
Clemens lived in a cluster of properties called Nook Farm, where other writers, editors and local luminaries also settled. One neighbor was Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose historic house remains open to the public as the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. The author of "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" spent her last 23 years in Hartford, and many of her belongings are on display.
Visit the home of the author of the first American dictionary at the Noah Webster House in West Hartford. In addition to and "An American Dictionary of the English Language," Webster wrote "Blue-Backed Speller," a work designed to teach children to write, spell, and read. For those passionate about literature and the English language, the Noah Webster house is an ideal destination.
Spend a day in the shoes of a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Wallace Stevens, on the Wallace Stevens Walk in Hartford. Stevens never learned to drive, so he walked to work each morning, composing poetry in his head with each step. Poetry lovers can walk the path he used to follow each day and imagine yourself writing poignant stanzas such as those in Stevens’ poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird."
Now operating as a museum, visit the childhood home of Nobel Prize-winning playwright Eugene O’Neill at the Monte Cristo Cottage, which was named after his actor-father’s most famous role. This cottage is also where O’Neill’s works "Long Day's Journey Into Night" and "Ah, Wilderness!" take place.
High up on a hill overlooking the Connecticut River is Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam. While at first glance it may only seem like a piece of medieval-inspired architecture, Gillette Castle was actually once home to actor, playwright, and director William Gillette who is most known for his role as Sherlock Holmes, but also authored two novels.
Located in a boxcar in Putnam is the Gertrude Chandler Boxcar Children’s Museum – the perfect stop for any book lovers traveling with kids. This museum is dedicated to the award-winning "Boxcar Children" series, written by Connecticut resident Gertrude Chandler. Enjoy children’s activities, signed books, learn about Chandler’s life as a teacher in Connecticut, and explore a replica of the characters’ boxcar home. The museum is open May through October.
If you’re an aspiring author or poet, take a rent-free retreat to the James Merrill House in Stonington. This national historic landmark was once the home of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Merrill. While the house’s main function is its writer-in-residence program, those who want to simply visit may do so by appointment.
Visit the inspiration for the setting of 1958 novel "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" written by Connecticut author Elizabeth George Speare. The Buttolph-Williams House in Wethersfield has architecture that reflects New England pilgrim life. Place yourself directly in the novel, which tells the story of a young girl living in 17th century Connecticut. The museum is open May through October.
Bites & Books
For all those looking for a tasty bite with their book, Connecticut offers some unique and wonderful spots that combine food and literature.
Right in the heart of Yale Center for British Art, you’ll find Atticus Bookstore Café, most known for its soups, sandwiches and of course, book collection. Built in 1976, this spot was originally just a bookstore but added a café in 1981. When you stop in be sure to keep your eyes peeled for celebrities – Atticus Bookstore is known to attract a long list of notable visitors, including Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, August Wilson.
Sitting in close proximity is another beloved book café, Book Trader Café at the Shops at Yale. This bookstore serves homemade sandwiches, soups, coffee, and pastries, offering both vegan and gluten-free options. As for the literature selection? Expect to find a specialized collection of books on art, architecture, photography, and other academic topics.
Traveler Restaurant in Union feeds both the appetite and the imagination. When you step inside, you’ll be greeted by shelves of books, framed and signed photos of authors and a menu filled with literature-themed dishes. The most extraordinary detail? Everyone who dines leaves with a free book – a book lover’s dream!
Ever eat dinner in a library? In Connecticut you can – a repurposed one! Library Wine Bar and Bistro is set in what was once Wallingford’s first public library and combines historic downtown Wallingford with traditional Portuguese and Mediterranean cuisine. While you won’t find any books inside, you’re sure to feel the essence of the pages that once lived there amongst the restaurant’s restored classic architecture.
Sometimes finding a good book is like discovering treasure right on the shelf! When it comes to finding books, Connecticut has some great locations to uncover your next page-turner.
In the shoreline town of Madison you’ll find R.J. Julia Booksellers, an award-winning independent bookstore that’s known well by locals and visitors alike. This bookstore is “fiercely committed to putting the right book in the right hand” and includes a list of books suggested by the owner, indie best-sellers, signed and first editions, and audiobooks. For extra literary magic, time your visit with one of the 300 events R.J. Julia Booksellers hosts each year – from book club meetings to events with authors.
Named after the Mark Twain short story The Jumping Calaveras Frog of Calaveras County, The Jumping Frog in Hartford is the perfect place for book lovers to find rare, antique, and autographed books. In addition to books, here you’ll find a broad selection of magazines, pamphlets, programs, postcards, posters, and more!
Browse a selection of over 500,000 used books at the four locations of the Book Barn in Niantic. With such a massive volume, this spot often carries books that are not available in your typical bookstore or library, ranging from rare books to children’s books. The collection is so large that the Book Barn even offers a brochure to guide guests through the property! But don’t worry, a personable staff is always on hand ready to help you find your ideal read and share in the affinity for literature.
If you want to read rare literature, visit the Beinecke Rare Books & Manuscript Library in New Haven, which houses one of the largest collections of rare books in the world. In this library you’ll find anything from the Gutenberg Bible to original Audubon bird prints and a collection including North American books printed before 1821, newspapers dated back before 1851, as well as books and manuscripts from Japan, China, the Middle and Near East, and Korea.
Ever get away and take a good book with you? In Connecticut, you can get away to where famous books take place or were written!
Follow in Mark Twain’s footsteps on this relaxing getaway that will take you from the place Huckleberry Finn was written to locations that were frequented by Twain himself.
For a truly unique escape, choose a book with a Connecticut setting and then an inn that's in roughly the same location. Envision yourself right inside the pages of wonderful reads like The Perfect Summer, Revolutionary Road, In the Village, Last Night at the Lobster, Girls of Tender Age, Poganuc People, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
If you want to make a weekend out of touring Connecticut’s Literary Landmarks, try this suggested getaway.