Six Literary Haunts Every Bibliophile Should Visit [PHOTOS]

Shannon Mckenna Schmidt

Shannon Mckenna Schmidt, co-author of National Geographic’s Novel Destinations, shares six of her favorite literary haunts.

Warning: Novel Destinations may inspire wanderlust. But rest assured, whether or not taking to the road is in the cards right now, the book offers an entertaining armchair journey. Rather than simply guiding readers to famous writers’ homes and haunts, Novel Destinations shares intriguing, little-known stories about the wordsmiths and the places where they lived, wrote, drew inspiration, and ventured themselves. Here are some of my favorite literary travel tales.

Chateau de Monte Cristo

Chateau de Monte Cristo (Photo by Brian Schmidt)

Alexandre Dumas’ housewarming party at his newly-constructed Château de Monte-Cristo generated so much excitement among the Parisian elite that 600 people turned up—most of them uninvited. They were eager to see the author’s “miniature paradise on earth” complete with castle, man-made grottos, and a waterfall. Also on the grounds is a neo-Gothic pavilion, encircled by a moat, which Dumas had built for his office and humorously named Chateau d’If after the prison in The Count of Monte Cristo.

Shakespeare's birthplace

Shakespeare’s birthplace (Photo by Steven Rendon)

When Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, needed saving, Charles Dickens spearheaded preservation efforts. On view today at the literary landmark is a copy of a guestbook, inscribed with Dickens’ signature and that of other early visitors like Romantic poet John Keats. Art later imitated life in Dickens’ novel Nicholas Nickleby when Mrs. Wititterly declares after a visit there, “I don’t know how it is, but after you’ve seen the place and written your name in the little book, somehow or other you seem to be inspired; it kindles up quite a fire within one.”

The Mount

The Mount (Photo by Brian Schmidt)

Crafting Gilded Age fiction wasn’t Edith Wharton’s only talent. Before gaining fame as a novelist, she penned works like The Decoration of Houses and established herself as a tastemaker in interior and landscape design. She put her knowledge into practice at her beautiful Berkshires estate, The Mount, where she designed from the ground up a three-story, 42-room mansion and French- and Italianate-style gardens.


Venice (Photo by Brian Schmidt)

After Ernest Hemingway was involved in two plane crashes during an African safari, his death was falsely reported around the world. The adventurer recuperated at Venice’s luxurious Gritti Palace Hotel on the Grand Canal, where one of his morning pastimes was sipping champagne on a waterfront terrace and reading his obituaries.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral (Photo by Brian Schmidt)

The Duchess of Orléans was one of the literary travelers who trekked to Notre-Dame Cathedral and helped save it from destruction. “The first building that I visited on coming to Paris was your church,” she told Victor Hugo at her wedding reception. Notre-Dame had fallen into disrepair, shunned by Parisians who viewed it as a shabby medieval relic. Then Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame was published in 1831, bringing readers in droves to see the story’s setting and compelling the city to restore the church to its former glory.

Kilauea - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Kilauea – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Photo by Brian Schmidt)

The same Hawaiian volcano Mark Twain witnessed in action in 1866, while on assignment for a California newspaper, is still going strong today. One of the most active volcanoes on earth, Kilauea, now part of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, has erupted more than 60 times since 1823. In Roughing It, Twain recalls witnessing “a scene of wild beauty,” the crater “splendidly illuminated by the glare from the fires below.”

About Novel Destinations

Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon's NOVEL DESTINATIONS

National Geographic

Follow in the footsteps of much-loved authors, including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Jane Austen, and many more. For vacationers who crave meaningful trips and unusual locales, cue National Geographic’s Novel Destinations—a guide for bibliophiles to more than 500 literary sites across the United States and Europe. Check into Hemingway’s favorite hotel in Sun Valley, or stroll about Bath’s Royal Crescent while entertaining fantasies of Lizzie Bennett and her Mr. Darcy. The fully revised second edition includes all of the previous sites—with updated locations—plus color images and an expanded section on all things Brontë. The book begins with thematic chapters covering author houses and museums, literary festivals and walking tours. Then, in-depth explorations of authors and places take readers roaming Franz Kafka’s Prague, James Joyce’s Dublin, Louisa May Alcott’s New England, and other locales. Peppered with great reading suggestions and little-known tales of literary gossip, Novel Destinations is a unique travel guide, an attractive gift book, and the ultimate bibliophile’s delight.


Shannon McKenna Schmidt is the co-author with Joni Rendon of Writers Between the Covers: The Scandalous Romantic Lives of Legendary Literary Casanovas, Coquettes, and Cads. She has written for Arrive, National Geographic Traveler, Shelf Awareness,, and other publications and websites. A former Hoboken, New Jersey, resident, she is traveling full-time in the United States and abroad and can be found on the web at and

You may purchase Novel Destinations at one of these fine online retailers: National Geographic Store, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Novel Destinations has been brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

TLC Book Tours Tour Host

3 Responses to Six Literary Haunts Every Bibliophile Should Visit [PHOTOS]

  1. trish says:

    As I was reading this, I thought, Oh, I’d FOR SURE want to visit this place…and now THIS place…but also THIS place…and by the end I want to visit all the places.

  2. Jathan Fink says:

    Reblogged this on Jadeworks Entertainment and commented:

    Whether your favorite novel is centered around the building of a great cathedral (think Ken Follett’s THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH), on a raft drifting down a river (remember Mark Twain’s HUCKLEBERRY FINN), or in any other place that an author brought to vivid life, you’ve likely wanted to visit some of those memorable settings. Guest writer Shannon McKenna Schmidt tells us about six NOVEL DESTINATIONS to add to your travel bucket list.

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