Off the Page: Atlanta’s Literary-Inspired Attractions
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Where Atlanta.
In the South, storytelling is as much a staple as the sweet fragrance of magnolia trees. Atlanta may be known as the “Hollywood of the South,” but the written word held reign over this city long before the moving picture. After devastating fires during the Civil War burnt the city to the ground, Atlanta set out to rebuild as a model for a more progressive South. Scholars of every variety helped to make this vision an everlasting reality. Today, you can see the marks left behind by some of these brilliant minds. From Atlantan authors whose homes are now permanent legacies to locations that make fantastical worlds a reality, these are the perfect stops for scholarly sightseers.
“Gone With the Wind”
Contrary to popular belief, this three-story home didn’t belong to Margaret “Peggy” Mitchell, whose first and only book remains one of the world’s most recognized titles. Rather, Peggy and her husband, John Marsh, rented Apartment 1 on the first floor of the Tudor Revival building. Tour the apartment to see where Peggy wrote “Gone With the Wind,” then explore the onsite museum to view her personal photos and marvel at memorabilia from the 1939 film. Tours offered daily.
“The Hunger Games”
With more than 65 million books sold in the U.S. alone and more than $1.5 billion in global box-office revenue, this young-adult trilogy is one of the most successful literary and movie franchises in history. The second installment in the dystopian trilogy—based on the book—was largely filmed throughout Atlanta, and many of the set locations still look like the big-screen versions of themselves despite being stripped of props and facades long ago. Visit the Goat Farm Arts Center to bring District 9 straight out of the page. Enter the Capitol at the Marriott Marquis or visit President Snow’s luxurious mansion at the Swan House on the grounds of the Atlanta History Center.
The King Papers
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy reaches throughout the world and is often embodied through his famous quotes from sermons or letters. King’s words have reverberated throughout time, teaching of nonviolence, peaceful political change, organized activism and philosophical expressions of freedom. The man himself was a voracious student of theology, history and philosophy, and an exemplary writer (and near-obsessive perfectionist).
Lucky for fans of both Dr. King and literature, Morehouse College’s King Collection is dedicated to preserving much of the famous alumnus’ work spanning from 1944 to 1968. The collection encompasses approximately 10,000 items, including hundreds of handwritten notes, speeches and sermons, manuscripts, and other historically significant works. You can also peruse an extraordinary collection of over 1,000 of King’s books, which feature the civil rights icon’s handwritten annotations.
Morehouse College shares a rotating selection of these items with the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Visit the museum’s “Voice to the Voiceless” gallery to view these documents and personal affects, which offer heart-rattling glimpses into King’s inner-most thoughts and philosophies.
The Robert C. Williams American Museum of Papermaking gives us a glimpse into the history and craftsmanship of paper and book binding. This museum has one of the most comprehensive collections of paper and paper-related artifacts in the world, including 2,000 books, watermarks, papers, tools, machines and manuscripts. Not only is this a riveting stop for book lovers and inquisitive minds alike, but a bevvy of classes are offered that teach you to bind, make marbled paper, and even make pop-up books. Open M-F. Free admission and parking.
“Uncle Remus Tales”
Long before Joel Chandler Harris created his title character, Uncle Remus, the Brer rabbit stories were being preserved by skilled African orators. As these stories traveled from Africa to plantations across the American South, the stories lived on among slaves. Many authors put pen to paper to immortalize these stories, but none were as popular as those narrated by Uncle Remus in Harris’ “Uncle Remus Tales.” Visit Harris’ home, dubbed The Wren’s Nest, to travel back in time—most of the furniture and belongings are original, making the house look untouched since Harris lived there from 1881 to 1908. Don’t miss the storytelling hour each Saturday at 1 pm.