This island city has the highest number of writers per capita in the United States.

Planning your summer vacation? Think of a tropical island with abundant sunshine, windy beaches, and a picturesque location for your Instagram photos — that’s not all a tropical island could offer. There’s an island city south of Florida that’s perfect for your vacation, but it also boasts of more writers per capita than any other city in the United States. It is even thought of as the pilgrimage for creativity. Dear friends, welcome to Key West — once upon a time the home to some of the world’s greatest literary artists.

Related media: Top Ten Best American Writers | Best American Writers of All Time

Once Upon An Island

Key West was home to several writers, and perhaps the well-known of them is Ernest Hemingway. In 1928, Hemingway and his wife Pauline visited the island to pick up a car they bought. The arrival of that car delay their time on the island and was a force to seek refuge there, eventually making the island their new home. During their first trip to the island, Hemingway wrote his novel ‘A Farewell To Arms’ while he lodged at the Trev-Mor Hotel, known today as Casa Antigua.

The Hemingways officially relocated to Old Town Key West where they lived in a Hispanic-colonial style cottage for almost a decade. It was here that Hemingway wrote most of his famous novels, like ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ and ‘Death In the Afternoon.’ The cottage is now known as the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, which is now open to the public for 30 minutes guided tours. Here, you’ll find the first in-ground pool of Key West, and the alleged six-toed cats — rumored to be descendants of Hemingway’s pet.

Hemingway also used to hang out at the famous yet still-thriving Sloppy Joe’s bar which was well-noted to be his favorite spot in town. Other renowned artists including the likes of writer John Dos Passos, and painter Waldo Peirce were also regulars at that bar.

My Island Of Words

Another legendary writer of Key West was Tennessee Williams, an American playwright and a 30-year resident of the island where he wrote almost all of his famous works, like ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ and ‘The Glass Menagerie’  from his modest cottage on Duncan Street. Nowadays, the cottage is closed to the public, but if you’re still a fan, you can visit the La Concha Hotel where he allegedly finished writing ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’  Today, the Tennessee Williams Museum at Key West Historical Society also pays tribute to his life.

Th’ Isles O’ Writers

Image: Key West Official website / iStock / Getty Images Plus

You might be wondering, how many renowned writers live or sought refuge in Key West. Short answer: a lot. Here are some celebrated writers of the past century. They include the likes of Robert FrostElizabeth BishopAnn BeattieRalph EllisonWallace Stevens, and Judy Blume, who all live or spend vacations on the island. The island honors these legendary writers in their annually Key West Literary Seminar every January. Next time you read a novel, look upon the author’s residence, it could be Key West.

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Mon, Aug 12, 2019.


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