6 Homes of Classic Women Authors in New England

The Mount-Edith Wharton's home in Lenox, MA

Here are 6 homes of classic women authors in New England. They preserve the lives and legacies of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Louisa May Alcott, Emily Dickinson, Edith Wharton, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Sarah Orne Jewett.

Visit them one at a time, group two on a weekend trip, or do them all on a multi-day loop. Make sure to link through to get all the information on visiting, as some of these aren’t open year round.

Literary pilgrimages are inspiring and enlightening. If you can’t get enough of your favorite women authors in print, visiting their homes, preserved for public viewing, is a fantastic way to get to know them better. Getting a glimpse where they lived and worked, and how they extended their creative flair into their homes and gardens is a true privilege.

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford CT

PhotoEd Schipul, flickr.com/photos/eschipul

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
Hartford, Connecticut

From the center’s mission statement: “The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center preserves and interprets Stowe’s Hartford home and the Center’s historic collections, promotes vibrant discussion of her life and work, and inspires commitment to social justice and positive change … Since 1968, visitors from all over the world come to Hartford to walk in the footsteps of the woman whose words changed the world.”

Tours, programs, and events are available at the Center honoring Harriet Beecher Stowe‘s life and legacy. Plan to spend plenty of time in this Hartford enclave, as the Mark Twain house is right next door, and what a treat that is!

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Orchard House - Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott: Orchard House
Concord, Massachusetts

Orchard House is best known as the place where Louisa May Alcott wrote and set her classic, Little Women. The home has been preserved to remain very much as it was during the Alcott family’s time.

Guided tours introduce visitors to the rich intellectual life of the Alcott family and their contemporary, with rooms very much as they were from 1855 to 1878. Educational programs and special events are available, along with the regular tours, year round. Read about a tour of Orchard House; while in Concord, you can visit the Alcott’s gravesite at nearby Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

When in Concord, you owe it to yourself to visit the beautiful public library; if you have another half day to spare and want to visit the Hawthorne, Emerson, and Thoreau sites, consult these posts on Books Tell You Why and Bookriot.

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Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst

Photo: Visit Hampshire County

Emily Dickinson Museum
The Homestead and the Evergreens, Amherst, Massachusetts

From the Museum’s web site: The Museum is dedicated to educating diverse audiences about Emily Dickinson’s life, family, creative work, times, and enduring relevance, and to preserving and interpreting the Homestead and The Evergreens as historical resources for the benefit of scholars and the general public. Tours, events, and educational opportunities are offered.

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Edith Wharton's home, the Mount (Lenox, MA)

Edith Wharton: The Mount
Lenox, Massachusetts

Located in the rolling Berkshires Hills of western Massachusetts, The Mount is the beautifully restored country manor and gardens built by Edith Wharton in 1902 and occupied by her and her then-husband Teddy Wharton until 1911. Tours, programs, and events are available, and the home and gardens are open to visitors from May to October.

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Sarah Orne Jewett house

Sarah Orne Jewett House and Museum
South Berwick, Maine

The home and museum of this lesser known but influential writer are maintained by Historic New England is the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive regional heritage organization in the nation.

Sarah Orne Jewett was not as well-known as her friend Willa Cather, for whom she was a mentor, but her work is considered a fixture of classic New England literature. The Jewett house features exhibitions, year-round public programs, a resource room and preservation staff on site.

Steepletop - Millay House

Edna St. Vincent Millay: Steepletop (currently closed)
Austerlitz, NY

Maintained by The Edna St. Vincent Millay Society, this venue’s mission is “to illuminate the life and writings of Edna St. Vincent Millay and to preserve and interpret the character of Steepletop, her home and gardens, places where nature inspires the creative spirit.”

Visitors can tour the gardens, Poetry Trail, and the gallery in the new Visitors Center, and enjoy a film about life at Steepletop when Millay lived there. House tours, ground tours, or a combination are available seasonally. Though it may be a stretch to include Austerlitz, NY as a New England destination, it’s an easy hop from Lenox, MA, if you’re visiting The Mount.

Note: Steepletop was closed to the public in 2019 until further notice. However, the Millay Colony for the Arts is still up and running. It’s a wonderful residency for creators in many disciplines.

2 Responses to “6 Homes of Classic Women Authors in New England”

  1. Thank you for this lovely article. I lived near Hartford for many years and summered in southern Maine, so these homes hold special meaning for me. No quarantined in the deep south at 76, I may never visit them again, so this was a precious gift.

    • Thank you for your comment, Linda. I actually live within driving distance of many of these Northeast homes (about a 3-hour radius), and now, their being closed and most of us sheltering at home, they seem elusive to me as well. Hopefully they’ll find a way to stay solvent and reopen next year, as these intimate glimpses into how these Literary Ladies lived is quite a special gift. Stay well, and stay hopeful! You may be able to return yet.

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