Literary Halloween Tour of Terror

For travelers as crazy about Halloween as I am, I've prepared this Literary Halloween Tour of Terror:


The original man of mystery, Edgar Allen Poe. (AP)

We'll start close by with a visit to the Edgar Allan Poe House in Philadelphia. Access is somewhat limited now as the Park Service installs a new exhibit in celebration of the bicentennial of Poe's birth in January. (I hope they pull up a few floor boards and look for that beating you know what....)

Then we'll drive up to Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., to visit the gravesite of Washington Irving, author of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," which gave us the memorable Headless Horseman. (Whatever you do, don't cross the bridge at night alone.)

Precede back to the coast, to Providence, R.I., to the Swan Point Cemetery, to pay our ghoulish respects at the gravesite of H.P. Lovecraft, one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century. Hurry: Ten years ago, vandals tried to dig up his body.

Now, keep driving up the coast to Salem, Mass., which -- as you might imagine -- is completely bewitched this time of year. You can visit the House of Seven Gables, the 17th-century mansion that inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne to write his famous novel. And in Hawthorne's old house nearby, you can see a wildly melodramatic play about the witchcraft crisis of 1692.


Sleep 'fright': Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania. (Eugeniu Salabasev/AP)

Take a flight to Dublin, Ireland, to stick your neck out in Bram Stoker's house.

And finally, let's fly into Romania to tour the eight castles associated with Dracula, particularly the 14th century Bran Castle, home of Prince Vlad, who inspired Dracula's legend.

I wanted to conclude this whirlwind trip with a stop at the Villa Diodati in Switzerland where -- in 1816 -- Shelley, Byron and Mary Godwin challenged each other to write a ghost story. (Mary -- later Mary Shelley -- wrote the story we know as Frankenstein.) Alas, the villa was torn down long ago. But some say....

Know of any other must-see stops for a Literary Tour of Terror? Click on "Comments" and let us know. Before it's too late.

-- Ron Charles

By Ron Charles |  October 29, 2008; 7:13 AM ET Fiction , Ron Charles
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My fiance and I were just up at the Poe House this past weekend ourselves (and plan to go back again once the new exhibitions are in place for the Poe bicentennial celebrations). One thing to add: On Halloween night, late-night scream queen Elvira (!!!) will be at the Poe house for a special reading of "The Raven"!

And closer to home (for some of us), I'd also recommend the Poe Museum in Richmond. They've got a little pre-Halloween party on October 30 -- a "Masque of the Red Death" party with music, food, drinks, guided tours, etc.

Posted by: arttaylor | October 29, 2008 9:08 AM

Don't forget the side trip to Maine.

Maybe note capital "l" Literary, but Stephen King owns the modern genre.

Posted by: engelmann | October 29, 2008 12:40 PM

How about touring some of the old mansions in New Orleans, in keeping with Anne Rice's series of vampire books.

Posted by: cjbriggs | October 29, 2008 1:18 PM

Halloween must be hell on King and Rice -- and their neighbors! King, of course, has written some very scary things about the ardency of his fans, and Rice has dropped horror for Christian writing. I imagine neither of them appreciate fans dropping by for trick-or-treat.
-- Ron Charles

Posted by: charlesr1 | October 29, 2008 2:12 PM

I didn't mean Anne Rice's personal house, but rather old New Orlean's mansions that are open to tourists.

Posted by: cjbriggs | October 30, 2008 1:41 PM

Denver's Historic Molly Brown House offers a haunted tour of sorts with its "Victorian Horrors" event that features live actors reading the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, HG Wells and others. My wife and went a few weekends back and had a wonderful time. It was our first time to the house, which is rather stunning all on its own.

http://www.mollybrown.org/visit-us/victorian-horrors/

Posted by: penisolate | October 30, 2008 3:53 PM

A trip to Roslyn, WA is a must. It has the creepiest cemetery I have ever seen. But if you visit, please treat this sacred ground with respect.

Roslyn is an old northwest coal town and qualified as a ghost town for many years. It was revived by the TV show "Northern Exposure" and by a resort which located nearby.

Just west of town, situated on wooded hills, lie Roslyn's 27 cemeteries. The cemeteries are divided by lodge, ethnic group and nationality. Many who are buried there are immigrants from eastern Europe - home of many horror legends such as vampires and werewolves.

In the late nineteenth century a mine explosion claimed 49 lives.

The thick forests and early nightfall of the Roslyn country are a breeding ground of legend and strange occurrences.

Bigfoot, werecreatures and other abnormal entities populate the region, whether real or myth. Awesome natural creatures are also there in abundance, like the black bear and mountain lion. From time to time a grizzly or wolf pack may wander through. It is a frightful, yet wonderful place!

Posted by: RonELee | October 30, 2008 7:31 PM

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