For a step back in literary time, baby boomer book lovers should visit Cross Creek, home of author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, on their next Florida vacation. Walking the grounds and buildings of the 1930’s Florida homestead is like entering a pre-wired world. Here, Rawlings’ wrote her novels, including Pulitzer Prize winner, The Yearling, at a manual typewriter on the screened-in front porch. That is, when she wasn’t cooking three-meals-a-day on the wood-fired stove or tending to Dora, the Jersey cow, before working in the citrus orchard.
Park Ranger, Sheila Barnes, greeted me on a visit to Cross Creek, officially known as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Park. Dressed in period costume, Barnes told stories from her research covering 15 years of studying Rawlings’ life. Rather than reading a plaque or hearing a lecture, I felt as if I was in the 1930’s talking with one of Marjorie’s good friends or neighbors.
Make the Sweetwater Branch Inn in Gainesville your headquarters for a visit to Cross Creek. Home to the University of Florida, you can stop by the school’s library which houses the largest collection of Rawlings’ work, including her unpublished poetry.
Want to read more about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ life? This article at Literary Traveler is a good place to start.
Next time, I’ll continue my travels into Georgia to learn about another woman writer of the South with stops at Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home in Savannah or her farm in Milledgeville, Georgia. Before I do, I’ll be checking out A Traveler’s Library, another site combining literature with travel.
Do you like visiting writers from the past? Post a comment to tell me about it. My literary travel list needs updating.
Disclaimer: This trip experience was provided by Gainesville/Alachua County VCB