Cruise to These 9 Museums Dedicated to American Authors

by Dawn Woolcott

As autumn rains begin, it is time to grab a hot beverage, a cozy blanket, and tuck into a good book. The quote by Mark Twain says it all:

The man who does not read good books has no advantage 

over the man who cannot read them.

Reading is one of life’s great pleasures. Allow yourself a couple of hours to pick up a classic novel. There are no doubt plenty we’ve heard about but actually have never read ourselves. As you travel across America, stop by one of the museums dedicated to an author. There is so much to learn by walking in their footsteps, learning about what made them tick, and hearing those background stories that help you understand their creative process. All of these homes are ones you can visit while visiting the city on a cruise – just click the city name to learn more. Consider adding these literary stops  to your itinerary!

Longfellow House
Photo credit: David Carnes

Within its walls lived four generations of one remarkable family that made significant contributions to the political, literary, and cultural life of New England and the United States. Henry Longfellow grew up in the house and went on to become one of the most famous men of his time. Originally a two-story structure with a pitched roof, the home was the first wholly brick dwelling in Portland. Longfellow is best known for his poems telling stories of America’s roots including “The Song of Hiawatha” and “Paul Revere’s Ride.” His well-known phrases have been entered into American speech including “ships that pass in the night” and “footprints on the sands of time” becoming so common, the speaker often doesn’t even know the words were written by Longfellow. The house, museum, and gardens are open June-October.   

“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, 

while others judge us by what we have already done”

“Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, 

and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass 

and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.”

 “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, 

we should find in each man’s life sorrow 

and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”


Edgar Allan Poe’s home is in an excellent state of preservation with much of the exterior and interior original fabric from the period when Edgar lived there with his aunt, grandmother and two cousins. While the house is not furnished, visitors walk on the same floors and  stairs and wander within the original plaster walls and woodwork that Edgar lived with. Exhibits tell the story of Edgar Allan Poe’s life and death in Baltimore and significant artifacts such as Edgar’s portable writing desk and chair. Learn more about his mysterious death and sad life which colored his writings. 

Man’s real life is happy, chiefly because he is ever expecting that it soon will be so.

“Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.”

faulkner house books new orleans

Faulkner did not live long in New Orleans, but his time there certainly influenced his writing. He had not gained fame yet and was just a guest rooming with an artist friend when he stayed here. The yellow four-story house they shared on Pirate Alley today is one of New Orleans’ most famous  literary treasures, a mecca where literary tourists come to visit Faulkner House Books, and see for themselves the writer’s beginnings. The humble home has now been converted into a bookshop with rentable rooms upstairs. Guests enjoy the writer’s ambience, except for the occasional feeling they’re being haunted with an inappropriate caress or the smell of a pipe.  

Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. 

If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. 

On my desk, I have a work station….

I know now that what makes a fool is an inability to take even his own good advice.

PEI Anne of Green Gables House

The author of “Anne of Green Gables” was heavily influenced by her surroundings – telling stories of an idyllic childhood in close contact with the natural world. The Anne of Green Gables Museum located in Park Corner was built in 1872 by the Author’s Aunt Annie and Uncle John Campbell. The author lived most of her life in a small town about 2 hours north of Toronto, but her stories were inspired by visits to this home on Prince Edward Island.

That is one good thing about this world… there are always sure to be more springs.

Twilight drops her curtain down, and pins it with a star.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”


Probably the most quoted man in all of American history, Mark Twain was a fountain of quotable remarks. His plain speaking, witty quotes, and writings have had readers laughing out loud for generations. Visit his boyhood home, now a museum in Hannibal, Missouri.  Before Twain was an up-and-coming writer, he spent years experiencing the world and finding his voice. He tried  his hand working on a ship on the Mississippi for years, bringing a sense of real life to his writings of Huckleberry Finn and Injun Joe.  In the museum you’ll see one of his trademark white suits, many personal artifacts, and the museum is also is home to 15 original Norman Rockwell paintings of Twain’s stories.

Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

Grief can take care if itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.


Opposite the old Ursuline Convent on Chartres Street stands the BK Historic House and Gardens, a National Historic Landmark built in 1826 and restored to its present condition by renowned author Frances Parkinson Keyes after purchasing it in 1948. The raised cottage style incorporates both Creole and American features. The museum offers a unique educational experience to visitors and furthers the understanding of New Orleans history. Keyes wrote about her life as the wife of a U.S. Senator, and several novels set in New England, Louisiana, and Europe. She eloquently described society in her historical novels and especially Creole life between the Civil War and the First World War. Many of her characters would today be considered stereotypes and while popular in the 1940s and 50s, her works are controversial today. The museum is a fascinating walk through time. The house has lived through many different incarnations, and been the home of a world chess champion, a Swiss diplomat, a wholesale liquor business, a home for homeless men, and Alcoholics Anonymous. 

 A half century of living should put a good deal into a person’s face besides a few wrinkles and some unwelcome folds around the chin.

The only door into her bedroom led through the church.


This American author published more than 30 books over 50 years, but it was her best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin that secured her place in history. She believed her actions could make a positive difference and her words changed the world. With her writing, Stowe could publicly express her thoughts and beliefs in a time when women were discouraged from public speaking, and could not vote or hold office. Her progressive father allowed her to receive a formal education and she became a teacher and furthered her writing talents. Her entire family was active in work to bring about equality through writing, education, and debate. Her brother opened a school in Florida to educate emancipated people. Visit their home in Cincinnati and learn more about his influential family. 

So much has been said and sung of beautiful young girls, why doesn’t somebody wake up to the beauty of old women.

To do common things perfectly is far better worth our endeavor than to do uncommon things respectably.


Hemingway was a man of the world. Just west of downtown Chicago in the town of Oak Park, Hemingway grew up in the elegant home his grandparents built. Authentically restored to the period in which Hemingway lived here, you can see his upper middle class upbringing and comfortable life which afforded him the opportunity to experience life and write his amazing stories.

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self. 


Washington Irving

Tarrytown, NY


Overlooking the Hudson River, the home of America’s first internationally famous author still charms. His well-known characters, from the Headless Horseman to Rip Van Winkle live here in the stories and walls of the author’s beloved home. It is easy to imagine life here before electricity, with spooky ambience inspiring his famous tale of ghosts riding through the nearby town of Sleepy Hollow. Look again, and you’ll see a writer’s desk and comfortable chair where the author let his imagination soar. Visit and learn more about this American icon.

A sharp tongue is the only edge tool that grows keener with constant use.

Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.

There is a serene and settled majesty to woodland scenery that enters into the soul 

and delights and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations.


Contact USA River Cruises for information to help you discover America!

(800) 578-1479

Visit American Author Museums
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