It's no wonder that New Orleans, a city as steeped in cultural heritage as it is in history, has been the muse of many a writer over the centuries. The lure of the jazz musician and the aromas of this great city matched with its tales of war, hardship and even love would be hard for any writer to resist. Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway all spent time writing in New Orleans long before Anne Rice graced the literary scene. So for those of you looking for the inspirations of the literary masters, you've come to the right city.
The first stop for any literary aficionado should be Hotel Monteleone. The hotel famously housed Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty and William Faulkner. Most recently, Anne Rice, Stephen Ambrose and John Grisham have found inspiration in its halls. Spend an evening in one of their literary suites, named for the greats who stayed there. If you just want to peak in, sit and sip at the Carousel Bar, a favorite haunt of Truman Capote, who claimed to have been born in the hotel.
If the antics of Ignatius J. Reilly are more up your alley, head over to the Haytt French Quarter Hotel (at the 800 block of Canal Street) to pose with the statue of the famous A Confederacy of Dunces character. To follow in Reilly's footsteps, head on inside the Hyatt (formerly the D.H. Homes Department Store) before stopping in at the Werlein Music Store (now Palace Café), Prytania Theatre and the Lucky Dog stands on Bourbon Street.
Fans of Tennessee Williams can dine at Galatoire's Restaurant, where the writer regularly lunched along the front windows. Once you've had your fill, head over to 632 St. Peter Street, where he lived and wrote A Streetcar Named Desire in 1946. Restaurant Stanley, located in the Pontalba Apartment Buildings just blocks from his residence, serves up Streetcar-inspired menu items, including the Eggs Stanley. The Pontalba Apartment Buildings were the first apartments in the U.S. and hosted Somerset Maugham, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Carl Sandburg and William Faulkner in its salon. Don't forget to take a streetcar either!
If the intrigue of vampires has lured you to New Orleans, pass by Anne Rice's former New Orleans home at 1238 First Street. Though she no longer lives there, the historic home still stands. Built in 1857, the home is the inspiration for Mayfair Manor of the Mayfair Witches.
If you prefer to imbibe in the spirits of literary legends, Old Absinthe House is your new watering hole. Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain and a variety of other celebrities all graced its bar.
In a murderous mood? Head to Antoine's Restaurant to liven up. The setting for Frances Parkinson Keyes' Dinner at Antoine's is the oldest continually operated restaurant in the U.S. and is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year. Have a Baked Alaska for dessert and ruminate over Stanley and Stella's fictional dinner there. Be sure not to miss the Beauregard-Keyes House, home of the author until her death.
For fans of George Washington Cable, there's the Lemonnier Mansion, or the Skyscraper Building. Cable lived and set his story "Sieur George" in the mansion. Located at 640 Royal Street, the building is also adjacent to the publishing house that once printed works by William S. Borroughs, Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Charles Bukowski's first book of poetry.
If you still haven't had your fill of retracing your favorite authors' steps in New Orleans, New Orleans has literary festivals to suit your needs. The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival even includes a "Stanley and Stella" shouting contest. Click here to learn more about literary festivals in New Orleans.
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