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Best-selling Getaways!

Immerse yourself in Mississippi’s literary culture.

Classes at universities throughout the South are in full swing. Eager students–perhaps some of whom include your children or grandchildren–are poring over classic American literature. We thought this would be a good opportunity to take a look at some of the South’s literary giants. And Mississippi has a good share of authors whose names and works we all remember.

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Above: Tennessee Williams’ home has been restored and serves as a welcome center. Family artifacts and a bookstore are inside. Commercial Dispatch-Columbus photo

Below: Charlton James gives his winning performance in the Stella shouting contest, which is part of Columbus’ Tennessee Williams annual tribute. Commercial Dispatch-Columbus photo

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Time to take down one of the classics from your bookshelves, grab a glass of sweet tea, and steal some precious time with a favorite Southern author. Better yet, take a short trip to one of these best-selling destinations and savor Mississippi’s literary culture.

Columbus and Tennessee

Tennessee Williams is regarded as one of the most important American playwrights. Director Elia Kazan once said of Williams, “Everything in his life is in his plays...,” which include A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and The Glass Menagerie.

Williams was born in the house at 300 Main St. on March 26, 1911. Today, the restored home is a National Literary Landmark. It also serves as the city’s welcome center.

Visit Columbus this fall and participate in the 13th Annual Tennessee Williams Tribute & Tour of Victorian Homes, which honors the American playwright. The event, which will be Sept. 8–14, includes performances of The Glass Menagerie at the Mississippi University for Women campus and a Stella shouting contest in the city’s historical downtown.

Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800) 327-2686, www.visitcolumbusms.org

Oxford and Faulkner

Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner lived in Oxford with his family in the 1930s. The family home, known as Rowan Oak, was built in 1848 and remained home to Faulkner until his death in 1962. While living in Oxford, he wrote such classics as As I Lay Dying; Absalom, Absalom!; Light in August; and A Fable.

The house is now owned by the University of Mississippi at Oxford and is open to the public. It is closed on Mondays. Admission is $5. One of the highlights is Faulkner’s desk and typewriter.

While in Oxford, make a stop at Square Books, one of the country’s best independent bookstores. Located on the beautiful town square, the store hosts book signings and author meet-and-greets all the time.

A few blocks northeast of the square is St. Peter’s Cemetery, where Faulkner is buried.

Oxford Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800) 758-9177, www.visitoxfordms.com

Jackson and Welty

When Eudora Welty decided to bequeath her home to the state of Mississippi, she reportedly emphasized her family was one that honored books and reading, and she did not want a house about her but one that treasured literature and the arts.

Welty won the Pulitzer Prize for The Optimist’s Daughter, which was published in 1972.

The Tudor-style home at 1119 Pinehurst St. in Jackson today is a National Historic Landmark and is one of the most intact literary houses in the country. It is a museum of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The home and gardens are open to visitors. Admission is $5. It is closed on Mondays.

Another writer with roots in Jackson, Margaret Walker Alexander, (Jubilee, 1966) is remembered at the Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center, Jackson State University.

Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800) 354-7695, www.visitjackson.com.

Greenville and Foote

Shelby Foote labored 30 years on his three-volume work, The Civil War: A Narrative (1958, 1963, 1974). Sales of his books took off after he was interviewed as part of Ken Burns’ documentary about the war. Greenville has ties to several writers, including Walker Percy (The Moviegoer, 1962). http://greenvillems.org/visitors/famous-greenvillians/writers/

September/October 2014 Issue


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