In less than 48 hours, I’ll be in the same room with Pa’s fiddle, Ma’ china shepherdess, and Laura’s desk. I’ll be in Mansfield, MO, the place where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the Little House books. It’s a literary pilgrimage I’ve long wanted to take. A college friend lives less than 2 hours from Mansfield, so it always seemed like an easy enough trip, even though I’ve never done it. But after visiting Mankato and Walnut Grove, I knew it was time to add Mansfield to my list of literary landmarks.
Though Mansfield is never featured in Wilder’s famous books, I’ve always been as interested in the places where authors create. Edith Wharton did almost all of her writing in bed, gazing out the window at the Berkshires. I might have taken an illegal photo of that view. Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women at a tiny, half moon desk in her room. So tiny that I can’t imagine how she fit paper and herself at that desk. William Faulkner wrote at a typewriter in his antebellum home in Oxford, Mississippi. All of these places gave me a unique thrill–one I’m pretty sure I’m going to get again on Sunday.
This particular trip isn’t about just the one pilgrimage. I’ll be communing with Lincoln in Springfield. And I’ll be reconnecting with dear college friends in Kansas City.
I am on the fence (freshly whitewashed, of course) about stopping in Hannibal. My parents and I went there when I was around 14, and I thought it was a strange place then. Becky Thatcher’s house? But she was never real. . . Somehow, I have a feeling it may be even odder to me now. I’ll probably stop, but it remains to be seen if I’ll find it all amusing or horrifying.
Any of you planning any literary pilgrimages this summer?