Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Celebrating the Excellence of Writers and Poets.
A literary year in Philadelphia is about to begin launched with a tribute to Charles’ Dickens on his 200th birthday February 7, 2012. Let's start with happy birthday Mr. Dickens! Here’s the scoop:
The Free Library of Philadelphia leads the festivities for 365 days during “A Year of Dickens” showcasing items from its renowned collection including Dickens’ letters, first editions and other works. Literary salons, a birthday party, guided tours, unique shows and special deals are all part of the tribute. Bonus points:
Visitors will have a chance to view Dickens’ own desk — the one where he wrote his unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood plus see stuffed raven that serves as a literary mascot. Free for all.
A stunning Beaux-Arts building along the culture-heavy Benjamin Franklin Parkway serves as the hub for the Free Library of Philadelphia, which includes 50 branches around the region. In addition to typical library activities—checking out and returning books—visitors to this Central Library can explore a massive collection that boasts some notable and rare works, such as collections of Edgar Allan Poe, Beatrix Potter and medieval manuscripts. Bonus points:
Author readings and lectures, special exhibits and events and an annual festival keep Philadelphians celebrating Ben Franklin’s idea of free public literature all year long. Wait for it!
The Free Library maintains a page on the web with oodles of benefits for young children including games, booklists, and storytelling tomes and various locations. Go to Kids Free Library
(Free Library 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA (215) 686-5322 or www.freelibrary.org/dickens
)Family vacations and learning.
To compliment the literary excellence of Dickens we have included a list the region’s other literary spots worth visiting.Quoth the raven nevermore.
The Edgar Allan Poe House, where the critic, editor, poet and author lived for one year and is believed to have begun work on The Raven,
offers self-guided tours as well as 30 to 45-minute Park Ranger guided tours Wednesday through Sunday. As guests wander the six rooms and basement of the house and listen to works read by actors such as Christopher Walken, they conjure images of the erratic and gifted Poe, best known for his macabre mysteries and credited with inventing the detective fiction genre. Bonus points:
Checkout the reading room, patterned after Poe’s essay “The Philosophy of Furniture.” Wait for it!
Poe House has a Junior Ranger Program with on-site activities that include a travel trunk, 19th century clothing, interactive puzzles and hunting for hidden clues throughout the exhibits and Poe's home. (The Edgar Allan Poe House 7th & Spring Garden Streets, Philadelphia, PA (215) 597-8780 or www.nps.gov/edal
)Thinking of Michener?
Bucks County has been home to many more famous authors throughout the centuries, as evidenced at the James A. Michener Art Museum, named for the Doylestown native son and Pulitzer Prize winner who penned such books as Tales of the South Pacific
. The art museum uses original items to recreate the Bucks County office where Michener worked for more than 35 years. Objects on his desk include two autographed baseballs from the Baltimore Orioles, his dog license issued to him in 1965, his Gypsy Witch fortune telling playing cards and his Doylestown High School T-shirt. Bonus points:
The museum maintains a clever and inspiring landing page for parents, educators and most importantly children. Checkout Michener’s Kids
(James A. Michener Art Museum 138 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, PA (215) 340-9800 or www.michenerartmuseum.or
g)View awesome books and manuscripts.
Many of the world’s greatest literary treasures can be found at the Rosenbach Museum & Library. The 1860s row house contains the personal collection of the Rosenbach brothers, who dealt in fine and decorative art, rare books and manuscripts. Perhaps the best known feature of the collection is James Joyce’s manuscript for Ulysses
, but equally impressive are 10,000 original drawings, notes and rare editions belonging to Maurice Sendak; important first editions of Don Quixote
and other works by Cervantes; William Blake’s original drawings and books; more than 600 Lewis Carroll books, letters and rare photos; portions of Charles Dickens’ manuscripts; notes and outlines for Bram Stoker’s Dracula;
Dylan Thomas’ manuscript and typescript for Under Milk Wood
and almost all of modernist poet Marianne Moore’s manuscripts and correspondence, plus many personal effects. Bonus points:
Throughout the year there unique happenings well-suited for families to share. In March 2012 checkout “Sendak in Spring” a weekend with stories, activities, bookmaking, and an interactive, imaginative opera. (Rosenbach Museum & Library 2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, PA (215) 732-1600 or www.rosenbach.org
)Visit Walt Whitman home.
Whitman is considered one of America’s greatest poets. He penned poetry with a fresh, original voice with wit and wisdom meant to inspire. His residence, constructed in 1848, the only home ever owned by Walt Whitman can be visited on the revitalized Camden, New Jersey waterfront. It is the place where Whitman grew to international fame as the author of Leaves of Grass;
hosted visitors from around the world including Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker and completed his last comprehensive volume of poetry before his death in 1892. Bonus points:
Not surprising, The Whitman House maintains a landing page for educators. This information may also be useful to parents visiting with children ages 10 to 18. (Walt Whitman House Camden, New Jersey (856) 964-5383 or Walt Whitman House.
Remember Pearl S. Buck?
In pastoral Bucks County, the Pearl S. Buck House at Green Hills Farm keeps alive the legacy of the first female to receive both the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes for literature. Home to Buck and her family for 38 years, the author of The Good Earth penned most of her 120 books, more than 400 short stories, 10 children’s books and numerous non-fiction articles from this homestead. Now, visitors may better understand her life and works through her still-furnished house and permanent and rotating exhibitions that display her prizes, manuscripts, letters from Harry Truman and Eleanor Roosevelt, memoirs and personal effects. (Pearl S. Buck House 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA (215) 249-0100 or www.pearlsbuck.org
)Focus on Afro-American Culture.
The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University serves as one of the nation’s leading research facilities for the study of the history and culture of people of African descent. The compilation of more than 500,000 items includes rare books, prints, photographs, slave narratives, manuscripts, letters, sheet music, foreign language publications and ephemera and boasts first editions by Phyllis Wheatley, W.E.B. Du Bois, George Washington Williams and other notable authors. Bonus points:
This is the place to page through slave narratives by Olaudah Equiano, Ignatius Sancho, Prince Lee Boo, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, and Nancy Prince. (Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Sullivan Hall, 1st floor, 1330 W. Berks Street, Philadelphia, PA (215) 204-6632 or Temple Library.
) Make it happen.
For more information about the area and planning a family vacation in Philadelphia, PA visit visitphilly.com
or www.uwishunu.com Better yet.
Listen to HearPhilly, an online radio station about what to see and do in the region. Or, call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Historic Philadelphia, toll-free 1-800-537-7676.Content and images provided by Visit Philly. Bonus points and comments provided by FTF staff. Copyright 2012.