Not only does “the Hub” have an unparalleled literary heritage, with a broad and diverse set of writers through the centuries ranging from enslaved poet Phillis Wheatley to Henry David Thoreau, Khalil Gibran, Sylvia Plath, Eugene O’Neill, and many, many more. It also boasts an unparalleled literary present.
Along with literary giants like David McCullough living in our midst, we enjoy a vibrant community of contemporary writers — and, just as important, readers! — who partake of Boston’s rich literary life via conferences, writing and editing courses, lectures, readings, poetry slams, book fairs, book signings, performances of literary works, discussion groups, and other programs and events.
Sure, we’ve got plenty to offer you in terms of writers who lived here a century or two — or three — ago. Our literary historical inventory is unparalleled, with everything from homes where world-famous writers have lived (Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathaniel Hawthorne all had homes on the same block at some point in their lives) to the Boston Common, where Ralph Waldo Emerson reputedly grazed his mother’s cows as a child and the shy Oliver Wendell Holmes finally asked his girlfriend to marry him. We even have the theater where Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote the title song to Oklahoma!, a play for which they later received a special Pulitzer Prize, along with the home of the publisher of the first newspaper by and for African American women, and the residence of the cartoonist who created Li’l Abner. (Check out the map for these sites and many more.)
But while in Boston, you might also, for instance, attend a Ford Hall Forum where Pulitzer Prize finalist Dick Lehr discusses his latest book; or an outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night; or a tour of the Omni Parker House, where Charles Dickens gave a reading of A Christmas Carol, Malcolm X worked as a bus boy, and Ho Chi Minh took a job as a baker (he was also a poet — it apparently took him a while to figure out what color his parachute was before deciding on “Communist Revolutionary”).
There are also occasional pop-up writing workshops; people like the governor reading a favorite poem at the Mass Poetry festival; the Boston Book Festival; superb programming at some of the country’s finest libraries.
We hope you take full advantage of all the Boston Literary District has to offer.
Keep reading, and enjoy!