The nation’s two newest Literary Landmarks, both in Connecticut, will be announced at ceremonies on October 16. The Mark Twain House & Museum and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center have been selected to be designees for recognition. The announcement will be made by the Connecticut Center for the Book, CT Humanities and Hartford Public Library.
The mission of The Mark Twain House & Museum is to foster an appreciation of the legacy of Mark Twain as one of our nation’s defining cultural figures and to demonstrate the continuing relevance of his work, life, and times. The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center preserves and interprets Stowe’s Hartford home and the center’s historic collections, promote vibrant discussion of her life and work, and inspire commitment to social justice and positive change.
The two former residences are within a block of each other in Hartford’s West End.
“We couldn’t be more pleased that Stowe and Twain are this year’s Literary Landmarks designees,” said CT Humanities executive director, Jason Mancini. “These writers are two of the best-known from Hartford and we are celebrating the achievements of other Connecticut-based authors with the 2019 Connecticut Book Awards on October 20, just a few days after this event. It seems fitting that these two sites be included at this time.”
Literary Landmarks is a program of United for Libraries, a subdivision of the American Library Association, to encourage the dedication of historic literary sites. The Literary Landmarks program began in the mid-1980’s, and has been coordinated in recent years by United for Libraries.
Through the years, dedications have included homes of famous writers (Tennessee Williams, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, William Faulkner), libraries and museum collections, literary scenes (such as John's Grill in San Francisco, immortalized by Dashiell Hammett, and Willa Cather's Prairie near Red Cloud, Nebraska), and even "Grip" the Raven, formerly the pet of Charles Dickens and inspiration to Edgar Allan Poe and now presiding (stuffed) at the Rare Books Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Each year, sites are added. Thus far this year prior to the new Connecticut additions, five Literary Landmarks have been added to the national roster, honoring Ray Bradbury, Peggy Parish, Vera B. Williams, Arnold Lobel and Herman Meville.
Connecticut has three previous Literary Landmark designations:
Home of Maxwell E. Perkins, 93 Park St., New Canaan, Conn. House of Maxwell E. Perkins, the editor of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. Currently private property. (Dedicated 2002.)
Elizabeth George Speare, Wethersfield, Conn. was the setting for Elizabeth George Speare's Newbery Award-winning book The Witch of Blackbird Pon d. The novel tells the story of Kit Tyler, who is forced to leave her Caribbean home for the Connecticut colony in 1687, and is accused by the townspeople of being a witch. Speare lived in Wethersfield when she wrote the novel in 1958. Partner: Wethersfield Public Library. (Dedicated March 26, 2009.)
Elihu Burritt Library, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, Conn. Elihu Burritt (1810-1879), a New Britain native noted for being a self-taught linguist who studied while he worked at the forge, was an ardent abolitionist, an internationally renowned peace activist, and a prolific writer. He was appointed consul to Birmingham, England, by President Lincoln. Many of Burritt's original works are found in this library. (Dedicated October 11, 2012.)
“When Mark Twain built his dream house in Hartford’s Nook Farm neighborhood in 1874 his next-door neighbor was Harriet Beecher Stowe, the most famous American woman in the world. Twain was on the verge of international fame and would, while living in Nook Farm, write his most noteworthy books,” Connecticut Explored wrote in 2011.
Connecticut Humanities (CTH) is a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Through competitive grantmaking, its website, and social media channels, CTH highlights cultural and educational events and is an advocate for the humanities. Connecticut Center for the Book is a program of Connecticut Humanities, and is Connecticut’s affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Its mission is to celebrate books, writers and readers who engender and sustain the life of the imagination and to highlight authors, illustrators, printers, publishers and the literary heritage of the State of Connecticut. The Hartford Public Library is a premier urban public library and is nationally recognized for its innovative programs and services. It continues to be the place for books and information with hundreds of thousands of materials in print and online for reading, learning and exploring our world.