Mark Twain may have spent his childhood adventuring on the Mississippi River, but it was from his opulent home in Hartford, Connecticut that the great humorist would write his legacy-defining stories, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and The Pauper, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Today, that 25-room Victorian Gothic mansion is a museum and National Historic Landmark. In addition to guided tours, the museum frequently hosts worthwhile special events like the annual Bark Twain Bash to support animal rescue services.
Since 1925, the Dickens Museum in Holborn, London has offered a world class collection of paintings, rare editions, manuscripts, original furniture and other items relating to the life and work of the beloved English novelist. If all that still doesn't meet your Great Expectations (heh), head over to Dickens World, a Charles Dickens-themed amusement park under an hour away in Kent.
For a truly immersive look into the life and legacy of Franz Kafka, you're best bet is the Kafka Museum in Prague. Since 2005, the museum has housed a widely-respected exhibition called the City of K, which features sections on Existential Space and Imaginary Topography. Each offers a distinct window into how place and time influenced Kafka, leaving the viewer with a better understanding of both the writer and the city he so adored.
A few hours outside of Moscow, you'll find the compound where Leo Tolstoy was born and where he wrote War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Once referred to by the Russian novelist as his "inaccessible literary stronghold," today this secluded destination serves as a well-regarded museum run by descendants of Tolstoy. If you find yourself in the city of Tula, Russia, it's worth the 8-mile trek.
Since 1922, this Richmond, Virginia-based museum has housed the world's most impressive collection of all things Poe, including manuscripts, first editions, memorabilia, and personal belongings. It sits a few blocks away from Poe's Richmond home and his first place of employment, the Southern Literary Messenger. Of special interest is a courtyard behind the museum, where one can pass the day in a garden inspired by Poe's poem "To One in Paradise."
Jane Austen's spent the final eight years of her life in this small cottage in the village of Chawton near Hampshire, England. Now a private museum, it features hand-written work from the Romantic Period writer, as well as jewelry, furniture and other Austen artifacts.
The premiere destination for hardcore Bard followers, the Folger Shakespeare Library boasts the world's largest collection of printed work from William Shakespeare. The library hosts performances and lectures, as well as free-to-tour exhibitions that offer a behind-the-scenes look at rare materials used by the great dramatist. As Celia says in As You Like It, "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it."
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