William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak, Mississippi

Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s beloved antebellum home and refuge, attracts enthusiasts from around the world. He purchased the home in 1930 and named it “Rowan Oak” after Scottish lore that promised good fortune to homeowners who displayed a rowan oak branch on their door. A major figure in American literature, William Faulkner (1897-1962) was inspired by his Oxford surroundings when he created the fictional characters of his Yoknapatawpha County. For his accumulated work he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1950 and the Pulitzer Price in 1955 and posthumously in 1963. Today, Rowan Oak is owned by the University of Mississippi and open to visitors.

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Delta Blues Museum, Mississippi

The Delta Blues Museum is located in Clarksdale, Mississippi, a place of mythic significance in the history of the blues. Clarksdale has long been the social and economic hub of the the Cotton Kingdom region, also known as the Mississippi Delta, where the blues began. And according to the legend, bluesman Robert Johnson made his famous bargain with the devil, exchanging his soul for the ability to play guitar the way that he had always dreamed, at the junction of Highways 61 and 49 in Clarksdale. The Delta Blues Museum was located in an old library in Clarksville for 19 years, and is now in the process of moving to Clarksville’s newly restored Illinois Central Railroad Freight Depot. (The Illinois Central was, of course, the railroad that so many black Mississippians rode north to Chicago, carrying the blues with them.) In its new location, the museum is the anchor of “Blues Alley,” Clarksdale’s developing historic blues district. The new museum will present exhibits in a chronological arrangement, placing key blues dates and events in historical, social, political, agricultural, and technological context. The exhibits will feature artifacts, photographs, listening stations with directional speakers, and interactive experiences (playing a real diddley bow, getting to know how a slide guitar feels, etc.).

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