Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bookish Bits: The Maine literary tradition

As a Massachusetts native, I tend to think of my home state as the literary heart of New England, thanks to the likes of Thoreau, Hawthorne, Dickinson, Melville, Emerson, Alcott, Geisel, Kerouac and countless other great American writers. But Maine, where I now live, has a rich literary tradition of its own, both as the home of writers and as a setting for their work. The Boston Globe explored this tradition in a recent travel piece, which you can read here. What follows are abbreviated versions of some of the citations from that article.

Baxter State Park
Henry David Thoreau hiked Mount Katahdin and environs three times; his The Maine Woods remains justly famous.

Stephen King lives here and his characters inhabit dozens of places statewide, real and imaginary.

This town may have inspired Richard Russo’s novel Empire Falls, which became an HBO movie that was shot in Skowhegan, Maine.

Isle au Haut
Linda Greenlaw, author of The Hungry Ocean and other works, hails from here.

North Brooklin
E. B. White wrote Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web here.

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin here. The book was so wildly popular in the North in the years leading up to the Civil War that President Lincoln, upon meeting Stowe, is supposed to have said: "So this is the little lady who started this great war.”

The children’s garden at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens commemorates such classics by Maine authors as Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee, Make Way for Ducklings, Blueberries for Sal and Miss Rumphius. 

Sure, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow spent much of his life in Massachusetts, but he was born in Portland and three generations of his family lived in the house where he was raised.

Kate Douglas Wiggins, author of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, lived here.

South Berwick
Resident Sarah Orne Jewett wrote Country of the Pointed Firs. 

May Sarton wrote The House by the Sea while living here.

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