From William Faulkner, whose house is now a charming bookstore, to Mark Twain, many an author found fertile literary ground in New Orleans. Tennessee Williams, Charles Bukowski, John Kennedy Toole, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lillian Hellman, and more have found their inspiration here.
Anne Rice. Known for her metaphysical gothic yarns, Rice was born in New Orleans, moved away but lived in the Garden District from 1989 to 2004. She set six of her books, including The Witching Hour, in her mid-19th century home on First Street. She’s best known for her Louisiana-based Vampire Chronicles.
Fatima Shaik is a New Orleans author of books for adults and children. Her work focuses on the Louisiana Creole and African-American experience. She writes in the voices of the local culture which has absorbed music, food, language and spirits from around the world.
James Lee Burke writes smart, hard-boiled detective novels; more than 20 featuring the emotionally broken retired New Orleans cop Dave Robicheaux, now a deputy sheriff in New Iberia, Louisiana.
Samuel Clemens may have been grown up in Missouri, but his pen name, Mark Twain, was a result of time spent on the Mississippi River. He borrowed it from a steamboat pilot he knew and wrote as Twain for articles published in the New Orleans Times-Picayune and everything else. Twain spent a good bit of time in New Orleans and famously said “New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.”
Tennessee Williams lived in the French Quarter and wrote three of his best known plays, including A Streetcar Named Desire, and numerous short stories in New Orleans. Williams’ first Vieux Carre apartment (which he called “a poetic evocation of all the cheap rooming houses of the world,") is at 722 Toulouse St., now home to the Historic New Orleans Collection. Williams is the inspiration for the annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival with its famous “Stella” or “Stanley” shouting content
William Faulkner worked on his first novel, "Soldiers' Pay," in what is now a lovely and well-stocked bookstore named the Faulkner House, just off Pirate’s Alley. Faulkner House is a must stop for anybody interested in the very best of New Orleans and Southern literature. And so are Faulkner’s books.
Charles Bukowski first visited New Orleans in 1942 on his first cross-country trip and returned many times over the years. Adept at exposing America at its seediest through his often profane poetry and prose, Bukowski is considered a poet laureate of the drunk and the downtrodden and his poem, “Young in New Orleans,” exposes the starving artist life as seriously overrated.
Frances Parkinson Keyes New Orleans author Frances Parkinson Keyes, who wrote more than 50 religious biographies, travel narratives, and romantic novels, published Dinner at Antoine’s in 1948, an historic romance rich with the conventions, customs, and mores of 1940s. Her home in the French Quarter at 1113 Chartres St., now called the historic Beauregard Keyes House, was a center of literary activity in 1950s New Orleans. It is open for tours and features an inviting gift shop.