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7 famous authors' homes you can visit

Sep. 17, 2012 at 10:34 AM ET

Amy Murrell / via Condé Nast Traveler /
William Shakespeare was born in this 16th-century half-timbered house, which has become a shrine for fans of The Immortal Bard.

The John Updike Society recently announced it had snatched up the author’s childhood home at 117 Philadelphia Ave. in Shillington, Pa., in order to turn it into a museum honoring the Pulitzer Prize-winner's life and work. Such a tribute is nothing new — take a look at these famous authors' homes that have become museums celebrating the former residents.

1. Mark Twain House & Museum
Hartford, Conn.

The Mark Twain House & Museum is where the plucky humorist and his family lived from 1874 to 1891, a time Twain would later call the happiest and most productive years of his life. The Victorian Gothic abode was built to the exact specifications of Twain, aka Samuel Clemens, and his wife, Livy. Upon its completion, the author remarked, “It is a home — and the word never had so much meaning before.” Throughout the year the museum presents an array of talks and exhibits, including “Presidential Mark Twain,” a collection of the many comments (good and bad) Twain made about various presidents (and what they said about him).

2. Ernest Hemingway Birth Home
Oak Park, Ill.

On July 21, 1899, Ernest Hemingway was born in a second-floor bedroom of a Queen Anne home in Oak Park, Ill., where he lived until the age of 6. Meticulously restored by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park, the grand Ernest Hemingway Birth Home hints at the origins of the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author’s creativity, particularly in its well-stocked library. Just a short walk away is the Ernest Hemingway Museum, contained within the Arts Center of Oak Park, which features a variety of personal artifacts, including rare photos, the author’s childhood diary, and a letter from Agnes von Kurowsky, the nurse who broke Hemingway’s heart and inspired "A Farewell to Arms."

3. Rowan Oak
Oxford, Miss.

Rowan Oak, the Greek Revival home in Oxford, Miss., that put the roof over the heads of William Faulkner and his family for more than four decades, has the author’s fingerprints all over it. Literally. In addition to the many renovations the Nobel Prize laureate made himself, the outline Faulkner penciled on the wall of his study for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "A Fable" remains intact.

4. The Anne Frank House
Amsterdam

Opened to the public in 1960, The Anne Frank House on Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht Canal welcomes more than a million visitors annually, and everyone can pay an in-person visit to The Secret Annex in which Frank and her family hid for two years during the Holocaust. It was here that Frank wrote her famous diaries, which were among the only personal items rescued from the hiding place. Her original writings remain on display in this home-turned-museum.

5. Sherlock Holmes Museum
London

OK, so Sherlock Holmes is neither a writer nor a real person. But the character, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, remains one of the literary world’s most famous — not to mention a Guinness World Record holder as the “most portrayed movie character.” That's probably why the Victorian lodging house in which the detective and his trusty sidekick, Doctor Watson, lived at 221b Baker St. in London has been reimagined as the Sherlock Holmes Museum, with the interior designed as a Doyle described it in his stories.

6. Shakespeare's Birthplace
Startford-upon-Avon, England

William Shakespeare may have been at his most productive in London, but the literary world owes a very big thank you to England's Stratford-upon-Avon area. Widely known as "Shakespeare Country," millions of visitors have paid homage to The Bard over the past 250 years with a visit to Shakespeare's Birthplace, the 16th-century dwelling where Billy lived, played, and even spent the first five years of married life with his wife, Anne Hathaway.

7. Brontë Parsonage Museum
West Yorkshire, England

If you've ever felt a kinship with Jane Eyre, you'll feel right at home at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, the home that protected — and inspired — sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne to write some of the world's most famous novels, "Wuthering Heights" among them.

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