American literature may not be tied to any single place, but the Berkshires had as profound an influence on its evolution as anywhere else. Here are four primary examples, in the order of their arrival in the Berkshires.
William Cullen Bryant – Monument Mountain
Rising a hundred miles inland, away from the storms and tides of the sea, are the Berkshires, among America’s eldest mountains, including Monument Mountain, a peak known around the globe because it caught the fancy of a homegrown poet -> William Cullen Bryant.
Nathaniel Hawthorne – Tanglewood
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s brief Berkshires residency, 1850-51, was as fruitful and important as any artists sojourn anywhere. Since it’s the poet’s job to name things, he named an area at southwest edge of Lenox Tanglewood! -> Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Herman Melville – The view from his Piazza
Images of once grand mansion/cottages, now tourist attractions, are seen everywhere, but the most famous element of architectural design in the Berkshires is the humble, north-facing porch that was tacked onto the farmhouse where Moby-Dick was written by -> Herman Melville.
Edith Wharton – Ethan Frome
“If you know Starkfield (Lenox), Massachusetts, you know the post-office. If you know the post-office you must have seen Ethan Frome drive up to it … and you must have asked who he was.” During the decade or so Edith Wharton lived in Lenox, she built The Mount and she turned a local tragedy into Ethan Frome. -> Edith Wharton.
- Bryant – photo credit: By José María Mora – cabinetcardgallery.wordpress.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9722907
- Hawthorne – By Mathew Benjamin Brady – Library of Congress, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11558996
- Melville – By Joseph Oriel Eaton – Houghton Library – Harvard University – Modern Books and Manuscripts, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75721837
- Wharton – By E. F. Cooper, Newport, Rhode Island – Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University , Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=110844478