Using a Literary Map to Find Your Way
Great writers create a sense of place in their work and if you want to get a sense of just where they are coming from, it can be helpful to visit the places these writer frequented. There many guided literary tours in and around DC, but if you really feel adventurous, you can explore the lives of writers with local connections at your own pace by creating your own literary tour.
The Virginia Association of Teachers of English (VATE) first created a literary map of their state in 1957. That map is no longer available but you can see it online because it is part of “Language of the Land: Journeys into Literary America,” an exhibit that was put together by the Library of Congress.
The VATE used their 1957 map as inspiration when they moved the project online and they continue to change and update the newer, online version of their Literary Map of Virginia. Although this is a resource that was created with teachers in mind, it can be useful for travelers who what to see the haunts of writers who lived most or some of their lives in Virginia. The contemporary online map is accompanied by lesson plans and an Author List that that is divided by region.
If you would prefer an area map that you can hold in your hand instead of a printout, try:
The Historical Society of Baltimore County sells a literary map of Baltimore and its surroundings that is 18″x 34″folded. At just $2.00, it is a worthwhile purchase if you want to get tour site related to authors with Baltimore connections.
The Washington DC chapter of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) sells a literary map of the city of Washington, D.C. that was developed by the curator of the Language of the Land exhibit, Martha Hopkins. The WNBA-DC’s Literary Map of Metro DC can be purchased flat or folded; one map is $7.95 and there is a discount on bulk orders. Contact WNBAinfoDC@gmail.com for more information.