By Mary Catherine Gaston
The Southern Literary Trail unveiled a brand new digital version in April, making it possible for lovers of Southern literature to "travel" to their favorite authors' homes and haunts without leaving the living room. Starting in Savannah with Flannery O'Connor's childhood abode, the trail winds its way to Natchez, Mississippi, with several rural stops along the way. While at the time of this post's publication most of the actual sites are closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions, some of Georgia's literary landmarks have taken to the worldwide web with offerings that allow anyone with internet access the opportunity to get up-close and personal with the sites virtually. So, sit back, relax and enjoy this sampling of the spots in rural Georgia that inspired some of the world's best writing. While you're at it, feel free to make plans for a real-life road trip or two in the near future!
Milledgeville: Flannery O'Connor's Andalusia home and farm
While the home and farm where Flannery O'Connor spent the last 13 years of her life--and wrote all her best-known works--is currently closed to the public, you can tour the grounds and main house on the museum's website. Owned and operated by O'Connor's alma mater, Georgia College, Andalusia also has a fantastic Facebook page that is updated regularly and features other virtual tours. Finally, Flannery fans will enjoy the Georgia Writers Museum's recently published "virtual museum experience," an interesting narrated presentation on her childhood.
(Image courtesy of Georgia College)
Eatonton: Alice Walker birthplace and Georgia Writer’s Museum
Just up the road from Milledgeville lies Eatonton, birthplace and childhood home of Alice Walker and home to the Georgia Writers Museum. Due to current restrictions, the museum is also closed, but through their website and Facebook page, the museum continues to provide excellent learning experiences for fans of Georgia literature. One such recent virtual museum experience is this presentation on the childhood of the Pulitzer Prize winning author.
(Image courtesy of Explore Georgia)
Blairsville: Byron Herbert Reece Heritage Farm
The lifelong home of Georgia farmer, poet and novelist Byron Herbert Reece's Facebook page is a great place to visit until you can visit the farm again in person. There you can take a virtual stroll through the lovely gardens and read some of Reece's most famous poems engraved in stone as you hear the sounds and see the sights that inspired them.
(Image courtesy of Reece Heritage Farm Facebook page)
The following rural Georgia sites are also part of the trail. Though they are currently closed to the public, bookmark their websites and Facebook pages for updates on their re-opening and upcoming activities: