New Orleans has always lured writers, so it's no great surprise that the likes of Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Sherwood Anderson, Eudora Welty, and even Ernest Hemingway turned to this town to feed their muse. If you long to experience the New Orleans of great writers, why not visit the places they lived, loved, drank and wrote? Here, time and even hurricanes seem to have left untouched the skinny streets where Faulkner walked and Tennessee listened to the clang of rattle-trap streetcars.
William Faulkner penned his very first novel, Solider's Pay at this distinctive French Quarter address in the shadow of the St. Louis Cathedral. Now a popular bookstore and private residence owned by Rosemary James and Joseph De Salvo, Jr., Faulkner House is also the headquarters of the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society (www.wordsandmusic.org) which hosts the annual Words and Music literary festival each winter in New Orleans.
Tennessee Slept Here
Tennessee Williams' first apartment in New Orleans still stands at 722 Toulouse Street, which Williams described as, "... a poetic evocation of all the cheap rooming houses of the world." Williams also resided at 710 Orleans, and it is at 623 Rue St. Peter Williams worked on a re-write of Streetcar Named Desire. The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival (www.tennesseewilliams.net) takes place each year in March. To learn more about Tennessee Williams, visit the Historic New Orleans Collection-Museum/Research Center (www.hnoc.org).
Tennessee Williams regularly dined at Galatoire's, one of New Orleans oldest and most celebrated restaurants, and he liked to dine at a table near the front windows. To sit at Tennessee's favorite, dine at the Galatoire's on Bourbon Street.
Legend has it that Truman Capote would hold court at the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone and boast that he'd been born in the hotel. It's almost true -- his mother was living there when she went into labor, but she gave birth to him at Touro Infirmary. Still, the hotel has played an integral part in the lives and works of Capote and other writers. Eudora Welty set part of The Purple Hat in the Monteleone's bar, and Pulitzer Prize-winning contemporary author Richard Ford set part A Piece of My Heart, there, too. Hemingway's short story "Night Before Battle" was also set at The Monteleone. In June 1999, the hotel was designated an official literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association.
D.H. Holmes Department Store
The D.H. Holmes Department Store first opened on Canal Street 1849, and in 1913, the building was given a new neoclassic design with a large clock. Soon "under the clock at D.H. Holmes" became a standard meeting place for friends in the Central Business District. The opening scene of John Kennedy Toole's hilarious novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, takes place there, and while D.H. Holmes Department Store no longer is in business, today it's the Chateau Sonesta Hotel New Orleans, which is fronted by a tatue of Toole's iconic character, Ignatius J. Reilly.
Anne Rice's Former Haunts
Visit Anne Rice's spooky former haunts by taking a streetcar Uptown to the Garden District. Rice no longer resides in New Orleans, but visit Lafayette Cemetery or find Anne Rice's former residence at 1239 First St., at Coliseum. Her famous St. Elizabeth's Orphanage is located on Napoleon Avenue, off St. Charles Avenue.
Napoleon Bonaparte never slept here, but a lot of writers drank here ... and still do. The Napoleon House's golden, glowing, peeled-paint walls give it an old New Orleans atmosphere usually seen only in movies. This is the quintessential French Quarter bar and restaurant, and untold numbers of artists and writers have passed through its doors, including Richard Ford, Robert Olen Butler, Julie Smith, Tom Piazza, Andrei Codrescu, and more. This bar has appeared in many movies, including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Runaway Jury. So have a Pimm's cup at Napoleon House and toast the literary ghosts of New Orleans. See if you can't conjure up a muse and a cocktail.
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