Tag Archives: Classics

Literary Homes You Can Buy! (Or Just Visit) 

Have you ever wanted to live in a house that comes with built-in bragging rights? Maybe you’re an aspiring writer hoping to channel the spirits of your literary predecessors. Or maybe you just love historical homes! If you have a few spare million lying around, you’re eligible to snatch up one of these historic properties with literary merit. Let’s check out a few currently on the market, just for funsies, listed in order of absurd prices (and then we’ll come back down to earth and check out some homes we can simply visit.  

Willa Cather’s Birthplace

Location: Gore, Virginia 

Price: $200,000 USD

Though Willa Cather is mainly known for her Great Plains trilogy (O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark, and My Ántonia), she was born on this Virginia property in 1873. It was her grandmother’s home, and Cather only lived in it for about a year before her parents relocated to Nebraska. But this old log house still served as inspiration for one of Cather’s novels. Sapphira and the Slave Girl takes place pre-Civil War, on a similar Virginian farm with direct influence from the local mill. The novel, Cather’s last, isn’t one of her best or most well-regarded (one of the more ham-fisted attempts to consider the suffering of enslaved people), but still, historical value! The house is a registered historical landmark but has unfortunately fallen into major disrepair, so whoever purchases it will have to invest thousands more to get it back into shape (seems like the Cather family has set up a GoFundMe).

Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Townhouse 

Location: Marlow, Buckinghamshire, UK 

Price: £830,000 ($1.4 million) 

This idyllic little cottage-style townhouse was the home of literary power couple Mary and Percy Shelley until poor health (and the threat of debtor’s prison) had them uproot to Italy. The house’s particular claim to fame is that Frankenstein was published while the couple lived here, as was Percy’s poem “Mont Blanc.” It also played host to many significant visitors! At the time, the row of townhouses formed one large house dating to the 16th century; it was divided into four smaller homes once the duo left. This date means the building is Grade II listed which, as viewers of British property search shows will know, indicates a protected class that prohibits much remodeling. Judging by the photos, though, it looks absolutely cozy and move-in ready! Perhaps not as goth as Shelley fans might like, but surely those white walls can be painted.  

Continue reading

Type Talk: Fanfiction

Welcome to the last post in this series created in honour of VPL’s ongoing Reading Challenge and this year’s Summer Reading Club. Today I wanted to talk about fanfiction! The name itself is basically self-explanatory, but for clarity’s sake: it’s fiction inspired by someone else’s source material. This can be anything under the sun, including movies, tv shows, video games, books, other fanfiction, art, and even people (which is a subgenre known as RPF, or Real Person Fiction) and can feature bands, celebrities, historical figures, and more.

Fanfiction is not just about written works, either. It belongs to the broader category of fanworks, which include fanart, fan videos, fan music, etc.

Sometimes, fanfiction’s connection to the source material is clear and obvious. Other times, were it not for the names of the characters, you might never know what original work inspired it.

You may be wondering how legal this is, and the answer is…complicated. It depends on the source material’s copyright restrictions, how relaxed the original creators are about derivative works (see Anne Rice, who was famously ruthless about it), and whether any profit is being made off it (short answer: no profit means it’s usually fine).

Here’s an article on that aspect of fanfiction, as well as how it relates to censorship and free speech, if you’re interested in learning more.

Continue reading

Required Reading: School Curriculum & The Classics

School is back in session, and with that comes projects and, thus, increased demand for the classics. You know them. To Kill a Mockingbird1984The Great GatsbyLord of the FliesBrave New WorldAnimal FarmShakespeare with HamletMacbeth, and R&J being ubiquitous. Etc. These have been staples in schools for decades*1. If you’re a data-driven person, this Ontario Book Publisher’s Association report will confirm many of the above titles.

Continue reading