The Heart of New England

Literary Tourism Flourishes
in Robert Frost Country, New Hampshire

Dan Brown is a New Hampshire resident
who happens to be the author of the
blockbuster "
Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons." His books have
spawned a tourism industry of their own as people make pilgrimages to sites
mentioned in his novels. But as an Exeter resident, he knows there are many
settings much closer to home. In fact John Irving's books, including "Hotel New
Hampshire," reference various private schools that resemble Philips Exeter
Academy in Brown's hometown.

There are many New Hampshire destinations familiar to readers who may
want to visit just to soak up the atmosphere. From Frost to Dr. Seuss, there's
something for every taste among these New Hampshire “leaves.”

Here are a few suggestions:

The Robert Frost Farm in Derry was the home of Robert Frost and his family
from 1900-1909. The modest clapboard farm house is open to visitors who want
to see the place that inspired such poems as “Mending Wall.” Located on the
rural State Route 28, the farm evokes the true spirit of “the road not taken.” The
house tour includes a brief film. A half-mile walking trail runs through the
woods with 23 markers along the way pointing out familiar spots from his
poems. Robert Frost Farm State Historic Park is open weekends from Mid-May
to Mid-June, and daily, Mid-June to Labor Day, 10am - 6pm. Admission is $3.
For information, call 603-432-3091. Readers with a copy of the North of Boston,
New Hampshire or Mountain Interval collection of poems can make their own
pilgrimage to other sites, such as Coös or Grafton. The Rauner Special
Collections Library at Dartmouth College in Hanover contains extensive Frost

Dr. Seuss went to Dartmouth. Also in Dartmouth's Library are cartoons created
for the Dartmouth humor magazine, Jack O'Lantern by Theodor Geisel, aka Dr.
Seuss, Class of 1925. Geisel contributed regularly and sometimes
controversially to Jack O'Lantern and created “Dr. Seuss” as a pseudonym after
one incident. The campus and its lively hometown of Hanover offer plenty of
diversions, along with the occasional encounter with a cat in a hat.

Several recent books by New Hampshire authors capture other local scenes:

Dr. Mark Okrant, director of Plymouth State University's Institute for New
Hampshire Studies, has just published a novel, "
The Last Resort," set at The
Balsams in Dixville Notch in the Great North Woods.

Tom Eslick's “Will Buchanan” mystery series focuses on the White Mountains.
He says readers can follow the trails in his latest book,
"Mountain Peril," with a White Mountains hiking guide.

Southern New Hampshire University scholar and novelist Robert J. Begiebing’s
trilogy follows Portsmouth society through several generations of women. The
most recent volume, "
Rebecca Wentworth’s Distraction," is set in 18th century
Portsmouth and depicts the mansions, gardens and shops of the colonial city in
a manner that allows readers to follow the hero's footsteps through many of the
same streets and houses that remain preserved and accessible today. Among
them, the Thomas Bailey Aldrich house in the Strawbery Banke Museum
compound. Aldrich described growing up in the house in the years 1849 to
1852, in his classic, "
Story of a Bad Boy."

Also on the Seacoast -- just off the coast, actually, but still in New Hampshire --
are the Isles of Shoals made famous by poet and naturalist Celia Thaxter in the
mid-19th century. Thanks to a salon she organized at the resort on Appledore
Island, each summer she attracted such Boston literary lions and artists as
Childe Hassam, William Morris Hunt, poet John Whittier, and publisher James
Fields (another Portsmouth son). In the summer, visitors can still wander in the
garden she created on Appledore Island. To preserve the fragile eco-system,
tours of Celia Thaxter's gardens are offered to the public only on Wednesdays
from June 22 through August 31. Visitors leave Seabrook, New Hampshire by
boat at 9 am and return at 4:30 pm. The program is offered by the Cornell
University Isle of Shoals Marine Laboratory and the cost of $60 per person
helps to underwrite the program. For information call 607-254-2900.

In the Monadnock Region, the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough has
inspired great authors from Thornton Wilder, who wrote “
Our Town” there, to
Studs Terkel. Colonists have won more than 50 Pulitzer Prizes. Designed as an
artists' sanctuary, the Colony is open to the public for one day each summer for
the Medal Day ceremony. The Edward MacDowell Medal is a national award
presented to an American creative artist whose body of work has made an
outstanding contribution to the national culture. Festivities focus around a
presentation address given by an outstanding authority in the medalist's field,
and the medalist's acceptance. After a picnic lunch, current MacDowell artists-
in-residence will open their studios to the public from 2 pm until 4 pm. There
is no charge to attend the ceremony or the open studios. For more information
MacDowell Colony.

There are innumerable authors who have lived in New Hampshire, from
Peterborough resident, the satirist P.J. O'Rourke, to J. D. Salinger who made his
home in Cornish.  Scores more have been inspired, including Nathaniel
Hawthorne, author of “
The Great Stone Face” story that prompted so many to
come see the Old Man of the Mountains for themselves (when he was still
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