“In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature, 1836
Explore the properties that inspired literary masters to craft the language of nature.

The natural landscapes of Massachusetts have been a source of inspiration and refuge for authors, poets, journalists, and playwrights, including some of our most revered literary masters. Among those who spent time at Trustees properties and found themselves moved to put word to paper were naturalists, Transcendentalists, diplomats, historians, political scientists, and yes, even a few eccentrics.

The Trustees Literary Trail highlights Trustees’ special places with connections to the literary world. We invite you to join generations of writers and readers by getting out and exploring these Trustees places—perhaps you’ll be similarly inspired, and will find yourself adding your own words to the written landscape.

IMPORTANT: Please check opening times and accessibility information for each of these locations before venturing out for your visit.

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1) Bartholomew's Cobble
2) Monument Mountain
3) Mountain Meadow Preserve
4) William Cullen Bryant Homestead
5) Bullitt Reservation
6) Fruitlands Museum
7) The Old Manse
8) Long Hill
9) Ravenswood Park
10) Farandnear

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“A woodland in full color is awesome as a forest fire, in magnitude at least, but a single tree is like a dancing tongue of flame to warm the heart.”
–Hal Borland, Sundial of the Seasons, 1964
Bartholomew's Cobble
Sheffield, Massachusetts

Colorado native, writer and naturalist Hal Borland (1900-1978) called New England home for most of his life. Living on a 100-acre farm in Northwestern Connecticut only a short drive from Bartholomew’s Cobble, Borland described his walks and observations exploring the woods and fields there in a series of editorials for the New York Times and the Berkshire Eagle that were later compiled into two books. Described by Edwin Way Teale as “a breath of fresh country air,” Borland’s books painted an accurate and telling portrait of rural New England life and its natural landscapes. Sample quotes of Borland’s can be found here.

A walk along the Housatonic River still offers quaint countryside views of agricultural land as well as a deep woods feel punctuated by the Cobble itself—a rare geological phenomenon.

Plan a visit to Bartholomew's Cobble.

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“Thou who wouldst see the lovely and the wild
Mingle in Harmony on Nature’s face,
Ascend our rocky mountains.”

–William Cullen Bryant, Monument Mountain, 1824
Monument Mountain
Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Inspired by William Cullen Bryant’s 1824 poem, Monument Mountain, Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne hiked up the namesake mountain on a summer afternoon in 1850 with publisher James T. Fields, poet Oliver Wendell Holmes, Dudley Fields, editor Evert Duyckinck, and writer Cornelius Matthews. An unexpected storm forced the party into a cave where they waited out the storm with a lively discussion, which inspired ideas for Melville’s new book, Moby-Dick. It is said that while on this hike, Melville looked out at Mt. Greylock and was struck by how the mountain’s shape reminded him of a giant whale breaching the ocean’s surface.

NOT TO BE MISSED: While the hike to the 1,642-ft summit of Squaw Peak can be strenuous, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views from the Berkshires to New York’s Catskill Mountains.

Plan a visit to Monument Mountain.

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“Few indeed realize what a world of beauty and order lies sleeping unsought and unseen in the mossy recesses of our mountains—a wonderland of discovery to any one who persistently, though reverently, seeks to lure from Nature the secret of her deep retreats.”
–Grace Greylock Niles, Bog-trotting for Orchids, 1905
Mountain Meadow Preserve
Williamstown, Massachusetts

Author and botanist Grace Greylock Niles (1864-1943) made her home in this ruggedly beautiful environment and spent years wandering the area’s forests and wetlands. Her books heightened interest in the unique history, plant life, and landforms found in northwest Massachusetts. Niles actually adopted her middle name as a personal tribute to Mt. Greylock, the state’s highest peak, located nearby.

Mountain Meadow offers an inviting mix of field, wetland and wildflower meadow—a diverse ecology that welcomes both novice hikers and experienced naturalists, and provides habitat for species such as Monarch butterflies, bluebirds, and goldenrod—and provides sweeping views of Niles’ beloved Berkshire and southern Vermont mountains.

Plan a visit to Mountain Meadow Preserve.

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“Go forth under the open sky, and list To Nature’s teachings.”
–William Cullen Bryant, Thanatopsis, 1817
William Cullen Bryant Homestead
Cummington, Massachusetts

William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) was an American poet, editor, conservationist and abolitionist whose nature poetry was inspired by the woods and fields of his native hills in western Massachusetts. Like his friend, Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole, Bryant was captivated by the American wilderness and woods. Their artistic output helped to shape a new conservation ethic in the 19th century that still remains a part of our American culture and identity today. A pioneer and progressive voice, Bryant served as editor of the New-York Evening Post for many years before returning to the home where he grew up. His homestead still embodies the pastoral landscape and rustic woods of Bryant’s 19th-century childhood home and later summer residence.

NOT TO BE MISSED: Walk in Bryant's footsteps along the Rivulet Trail and experience the old-growth forest that inspired Bryant's nature poetry.

Plan a visit to the Bryant Homestead.

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Bullitt Reservation
Ashfield and Conway, Massachusetts

The Bullitt Reservation was once the summer home of William C. Bullitt (1891–1967) and his family. An eccentric and intriguing historical figure, Bullitt was an American journalist, novelist, and the first U.S. diplomat to Soviet Russia. He published two books on American foreign policy: The Bullitt Mission to Russia and The Great Globe Itself. With psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, he co-authored a biography of a former president, Thomas Woodrow Wilson: A Psychological Study that took over thirty years to publish due to its controversial nature. In addition to a number of unpublished plays, short stories, and a screenplay, Bullitt published a satirical novel It's Not Done (1926) about upper class society in Philadelphia.

A network of trails now meander the butterfly-rich fields and forests–featuring a glacial erratic and two historic barns–of Bullitt’s summer home.

Plan a visit to Bullitt Reservation.

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“With the first frosts, the butterflies, who had sunned themselves in the new light through the summer, took flight, leaving the few bees to see what honey they had stored for winter use. Precious little appeared beyond the satisfaction of a few months of holy living.”
–Louisa May Alcott, Transcendental Wild Oats, 1873
Fruitlands Museum
Harvard, Massachusetts

In 1843, a ten-year-old Louisa May Alcott moved with her family to a farm they called “Fruitlands.” Here, a group of idealistic thinkers—co-led by her father, Bronson Alcott, along with Charles Lane—believed that by living off the “fruit of the land” they could improve the world. The experiment only lasted a few months, but young Louisa kept a journal of her time at the farmhouse, which she published thirty years later as a story called Transcendental Wild Oats. The site is preserved thanks to author and collector Clara Endicott Sears who first opened the property as a museum in 1914. A list of books by and about Miss Sears can be found here.

NOT TO BE MISSED: Climb the stairs of the farmhouse to the attic that inspired iconic scenes in Little Women.

Plan a visit to Fruitlands Museum.

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“How gently, too, did the sight of the Old Manse—best seen from the river, overshadowed with its willow, and all environed about with the foliage of its orchard and avenue—how gently did its gray, homely aspect rebuke the speculative extravagances of the day!”
–Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from an Old Manse, 1846
The Old Manse
Concord, Massachusetts

This National Historic Landmark, built in 1770 for patriot minister William Emerson (1743-1776), was the home of authors, artists, philosophers, botanists, intellectual thinkers, and reformers who shaped the nation’s history. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) and Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) both called The Old Manse home for a time, and leading Transcendentalists such as Bronson Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller discussed the issues of the day here. The 3,000-volume theological library that belonged to the family includes sermons, pamphlets, and books dating to as early as the 1500s.

NOT TO BE MISSED: Read the inscriptions etched onto the windows by newlyweds Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne.

Plan a visit to The Old Manse.

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Long Hill
Beverly, Massachusetts

Lovely views of the rural North Shore inspired Ellery and Mabel Cabot Sedgwick to buy this property in 1916. Ellery Sedgwick (1872-1960) served as editor of the influential literary magazine The Atlantic Monthly from 1908 to 1938, publishing the works of Ernest Hemingway and his contemporaries. A list of the authors Ellery Sedgwick worked with can be found here.

Mabel Cabot Sedgwick (1873-1937) was an accomplished gardener and horticulturist, whose 1907 book The Garden Month by Month was a standard in any gardener’s library in the 20th century. She and Ellery’s second wife, horticulturist Marjorie Russell Sedgwick (1896-1978), transformed Long Hill into the garden oasis you’ll find today.

Interestingly, The Garden Month by Month was co-written by Robert Cameron, then at Harvard Botanic Garden before he became superintendent at another Trustees property, Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich.

Plan a visit to Long Hill.

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“To be in full accord with nature, one should get accustomed to the presence of a snake now and then, in the open-air bed.”
–Mason Augustus Walton, A Hermit's Wild Friends: Or, Eighteen Years in the Woods, 1903
Ravenswood Park
Gloucester , Massachusetts

Ravenswood Park was home to one of our most colorful and unusual authors, naturalist Mason Augustus Walton (1838-1917). Living a semi-hermitic life in the woods, he published several books and contributed regularly to the magazine that would become Field and Stream, writing a column under the pseudonym "The Hermit." Years later Helen Naismith memorialized Walton in The Hermit of Ravenswood, where she committed to paper, “the true story of Mason Augustus Walton and his wild animal friends.”

Walton’s cabin burned down in 1948, but a plaque marks its location, one of many sights on the 10 miles of carriage paths and trails that meander through the 600-acre park.

Plan a visit to Ravenswood Park.

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Shirley , Massachusetts

Charles Eliot Goodspeed (1867-1950), a rare book dealer, occasional publisher, and founder and owner of Goodspeed’s Book Shop in Boston, named this property “Farandnear” after he purchased it in 1902—as it was “far” enough to require a two-days’ journey by horse to reach, but “near” enough to be a vacation home. When his grandson Arthur S. Banks (1926-2011), a political science professor, writer, and editor, wasn’t at work at Binghamton University, he was planting rare conifer trees in Farandnear’s “pinetum.” Arthur wrote the Cross-National-Time-Series Data Archive and edited the Political Handbook of the World.

Farandnear’s park-like grounds include fields of wildflowers, the remnants of an old cranberry bog, and nearly 3 miles of wooded trails.

Plan a visit to Farandnear.

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