Colin McEnroe Show: A 'Skeptic's Guide' To Writers' Houses

Is visiting a writer's house a fool's errand?

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Colin McEnroe Show: A 'Skeptic's Guide' To Writers' Houses
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Colin McEnroe Show: A 'Skeptic's Guide' To Writers' Houses

Our show today is about the rewards and disappointments of visiting the houses of writers we love. Or visiting the houses of a writer who happened to live in a city we happen to be visiting anyway. Or visiting the houses of writers who lived where we live.

Here in Hartford, even if you're not the kind of person who goes on tours of writer's houses, you've probably gone on tours of the Twain House, just because. And maybe the Stowe House and maybe even the Noah Webster House (although was Noah Webster a writer? Or was he more like tech support?)

The other Hartford writer of interest is Wallace Stevens, but there is no house to tour. For a long time, there was pretty much nothing, but now you can follow the route of Stevens's daily walk from Westerly terrace to his insurance job and each of his ways of looking at a blackbird is etched along the route. Well, it's something.

Leave your comments below, e-mail or Tweet us @wnprcolin.



Edith Wharton

I've been a few times to The Mount, Edith Wharton's home in Lenox. It is a wonderful place and fully reflective of her.
And, fortunately, they've come out of some financial trouble and I believe they are no longer under the threat of foreclosure.

(Plus, it's somewhere one can drop the "Henry 'Painful Duty' James" line and get a knowing laugh.)

Eric in Boston:

Thanks! That was the teamwork of me putting it in a bountiful list for Patrick Skahill to decide to play at juuuust the right time, and Colin, who trusts our judgement. And vice versa. :)

Bumper Music

And whoever picked 'Run's House' for the bumper music deserves a raise.

E-mail from Sean

I’d say in some cases it is, depending on the writer and the location. I’ve always been impressed with Twain’s Hartford mansion, and Hemingway’s cat-infested house in Key West looks very interesting, but I can’t imagine wanting to check out Philip K Dick’s apartment (despite his being a favorite writer of mine), and I’d say the main draw of T.C. Boyle’s house is the fact it’s a Frank Lloyd Wright house.

E-mail from Eilzabeth Keifer

Before I studied at Oxford one summer, they took a group of us on an authors' house tour throughout England and up to Scotland. It was interesting to see their homes, but I was even more interested in the landscapes surrounding the homes, since many of the author/poets described these scenes. And I have to say, standing in the ruins of Tintern Abbey in Wales with a copy of the Wordsworth poem in my hand--was, as Rand would say, magical.

E-mail from Tom

I went to Ithaca College for a while, and inadvertently spent a large amount of time in the house in which Alex Haley was born. After attending numerous parties at the house on Cascidilla Street, I learned of it's significance, and it caused me to have a moment of reflection, realizing that there is no pedestal, no magic setting required to create greatness. The lack of a gift shop was a definite plus.

E-mail from Eva

My family recently took the monthly Stowe House tour guided by the center's library director, in the costume and character of one of Stowe's twin daughters.
The perspectives of the daughter, and her availability to answer questions in character (and later, out of character) made the house come alive with history.
The Visitor Center information about Uncle Tom's Cabin, placing it in historical context, was also worthwhile.