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Summer Reading: The Bedroom Secrets of Your Favorite Authors...and Their Basement Secrets Too
It's Summer Reading Week at Oprah.com! This week we're profiling the writers and books that you love, as well as some unexpected tidbits about all things literary. Today's homage: Laura Ingalls Wilder (plus a few thoughts on Edgar Allan Poe and Flannery O'Connor)
As a girl, I was so in love with Laura Ingalls Wilder that I read all 10 of her Little House books. Then reread them. Then reread them again. Then, I bought her cookbook and diaries and letters and read those too, not just because I wanted to learn more about her via primary materials, but also because I just couldn't bear for our whole intimate relationship to end. (Apparently, I'm not alone—a new book called The Wilder Life explores just this syndrome.)
Should you find yourself in the same spot—yearning for more of an author, while running out of books to read—there is now a website that can help. Writers' Houses pays tribute to various author abodes all over the world. There is even a house finder that lets you search by author name or geographic location, which lead to me to this pastoral pic of Wilder's home in Mansfield, Missouri.
"We feature over 100 homes," says A.N. Devers, founder of the site. Her obsession with literary real estate began while studying at the University of Virginia, where the dorm room of Edgar Allan Poe is kept open to the students 24 hours a day, visible through a door covered in Plexiglas.
"The idea that you can have a different experience with a writer, one that's completely separate from reading her book is just so compelling," says Devers. One of her most moving visits was to Flannery O'Connor's house, where she saw O'Conner's crutch propped up in her study on the first floor—a sight that "immediately shows you how limited O'Connor was—if only physically."
Another memorable tour was to Edgar Allan Poe's house in Philadelphia, where "you can tour by yourself the basement which appears in the story 'The Black Cat.'"
Hmm. I wonder what awaits me in Wilder's house. All I really want to see is the blackberry-shaped buttons she admired on her aunt's dress in Little House in the Big Woods and, of course, the "welcome, Leigh" note that she left on her desk for me, knowing that one day I'd finally show up.
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