From past to present, Baltimore is a city steeped in literary tradition and a love for books. Check out the places that famous writers once called home, wrote breakthrough work, or found inspiration. Walk in the footsteps of notable authors and poets like Edgar Allan Poe, H.L. Menchen, Emily Post, W. E. B. Du Bois, John Dos Passos, Zora Neal Hurston, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Upton Sinclair, Ogden Nash, Gertrude Stein, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Tom Clancy, David Simon, Wes Moore, Nora Roberts, Ann Tyler, and Laura Lippman. Explore the events, landmarks, museums and restaurants that honor Baltimore’s literary past.
Baltimore CityLit Festival
The CItyLit Project is dedicated to elevating enthusiasm for literary arts in the Baltimore area. Each year, the organization hosts a daylong celebration of literature in partnership with the Enoch Pratt Free Library. In addition to bringing well-known authors to Baltimore, the festival showcases Baltimore’s diverse community of self-published authors, small presses, and literary journals and organizations. Click here for more information.
Baltimore Book Festival
Each September, the Inner Harbor is turned into a book-lovers dream during this weekend-long festival. Hundreds of author appearances, readings and book signings take place, and exhibitors and booksellers set up shop in booths along the water. There are workshops, panel discussions, live music, and concessions, as well as plenty of hands-on activities for kids. Click here for more information.
International Edgar Allan Poe Festival and Awards
Baltimore is hosting the first annual International Edgar Allan Poe Festival and Awards October 6-7 to coincide with Poe’s death day. The free outdoor event will feature Poe-themed performances, art, vendors and food across the street from the Poe House & Museum at 203 N. Amity Street.
Take a Literary Tour
Maryland Humanities’ Literary Mount Vernon Walking Tour
April through October, third Saturday of each month
Follow in the footsteps of some of Baltimore’s literary greats by exploring their neighborhood haunts and learning more about their lives in Baltimore. Tours begin at the Enoch Pratt Free Library (400 Cathedral Street); you can also download a map or app and take the tour on your own time. Click here for more information.
Baltimore National Heritage Area’s Mount Vernon Cultural Walk
May through November, first Sunday of each month
These 90-minute guided tours explore the fine architecture and world-renowned institutions along Charles Street, one of the city’s main arteries and a National Historic Byway. Stops include the Walters Art Museum, Enoch Pratt Free Library, and the George Peabody Institute, all of which are have literary significance in Baltimore. Guided tours generally depart from the Baltimore Visitor Center (401 Light Street in the Inner Harbor); maps for self-guided tours are also available for purchase there. Click here for more information.
Legends and Sights of Baltimore Cruise
Times and prices vary, contact Cruises on the Bay by Watermark for more information
Take the Legends and Sights of Baltimore cruise aboard The Raven, a purple-trimmed, 99-foot-long, 28-foot-wide touring yacht. Learn about Poe’s presence in Baltimore, the founding of Fell's Point and the "red light district,” the history behind Francis Scott Key and the writing of our National Anthem, and more during this 2.5 hour tour.
Explore Literary Landmarks
Dorothy Parker Garden
4805 Mt. Hope Drive
This memorial garden at the headquarters for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the final resting place of poet, short story writer, critic, and satirist Dorothy Parker. Best known for her wit and wisecracks, she once suggested that her epitaph read: “Excuse My Dust.” In an interesting turn of events, her ashes went unclaimed for 21 years, including 15 years in her attorney’s filing cabinet. The NAACP built this memorial garden for her and interred her ashes there. Click here for more information.
Enoch Pratt Free Library
400 Cathedral Street
The main branch of Baltimore’s public library takes up nearly an entire city block. An entire room at the library is dedicated to H.L. Mencken, and there is also a collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s letters, poetry, and photographs—and even a lock of his hair. One of the oldest free public library systems in the United States, there are 22 additional branches throughout the city and surrounding area. Click here for more information.
Emmanuel Episcopal Church
811 Cathedral Street
The first woman in history to receive a Pulitzer Prize for poetry, Edna St. Vincent Millay, frequently read during meetings of the Maryland Poetry Society at this church in Mount Vernon. Millay championed the plight of women and the oppression of traditional gender roles, and was known as “the embodiment of the liberated woman of the 1920s.” Click here for more information.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s House
1307 Park Avenue
F. Scott Fitzgerald, writer of great works like “This Side of Paradise” and “The Great Gatsby,” went through a dark period in Baltimore. This house is the last place he lived with his wife Zelda, who was often in local hospitals for a series of mental breakdowns. Writer H.L. Mencken, wrote in his journal in 1934: "The case of F. Scott Fitzgerald has become distressing. He is a boozing in a wild manner and has become a nuisance." Although the house is not open to the public, you can see a blue historical designation on the outside of the rowhome. Click here for more information.
Gertrude Stein’s House
215 E. Biddle Street
Although Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo only lived in this location Baltimore for about six years, the influence of life in Mount Vernon introduced Stein to a variety of people and perspectives that influenced much of her later work. Stein studied medicine at Johns Hopkins University for three years and later claimed Baltimore as her “place of domicile” in her will despite her 39-year absence from the city. Click here for more information.
George Peabody Library
This expansive library in Mount Vernon near the Washington Monument has been described as a “cathedral of books” and is considered to be one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Its atrium is surrounded by five tiers of ornamental cast-iron balconies. The library’s 300,000 volume collection is open for perusal by the general public, and it houses an impressive amount of H.L. Mencken’s writings. It also made a cameo in the 1993 film “Sleepless in Seattle.” Click here for more information.
H.L. Mencken House
1524 Hollins Street
H.L. Mencken live in Baltimore for more than 45 years and wrote for many city publications, including The Baltimore Sun. He was given the nickname the “Sage of Baltimore.” He lived in this brick rowhouse from 1883 until his death in 1956. The house is currently not open to the public, but a special commemorative plaque near the door can tell you more about its famous occupant. Click here for more information.
John H.B. Latrobe House
11 W. Mulberry Street
On an evening in October of 1883, three Baltimore gentlemen in this house pored over manuscripts submitted in a literary contest sponsored by the Baltimore Saturday Visitor. Their unanimous choice for the best prose tale was “MS. Found in a Bottle,” by an unknown, penniless author named Edgar Allan Poe. The $50 cash prize helped launch his literary career. Click here for more information.
Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church
10 East Mount Vernon Place
This Victorian Gothic church was built at the site that once housed the mansion of Elizabeth Phoebe Key, the daughter of Francis Scott Key, who penned “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Francis Scott Key died in his home, and a plaque observing his death is on the southern outside church wall. Look for a plaque that serves as a historical designation. Click here for more information.
The Owl Bar
1 East Chase Street
F. Scott Fitzgerald and H.L. Mencken were frequently seen together in this bar of the historic Belvedere Hotel in Mount Vernon. Not much has changed since the Jazz Age (a term Fitzgerald coined); the dimly lit bar features oak benches and stained-glass windows, and even an owl statue that signaled the police were near with the blink of its eyes during prohibition. Click here for more information.
The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum
203 Amity Street
Edgar Allan Poe once lived at this house-turned-museum that displays portraits, personal effects, and mementos left by Baltimore's "Poe Toaster," a mysterious person who left a partial bottle of cognac and three roses on Poe's grave on the author's birthday for decades. Click here for more information.
Walters Art Museum
600 N Charles Street
This public art museum’s extraordinary collection chronicles the art of the book over more than 1,000 years. The collection includes more than 900 illuminated manuscripts, 1,250 of the first printed books, and an important collection of post-1500 deluxe editions. Books come from all over the world, and include first-printed editions of ancient texts by great thinkers such as Aristotle and Euclid, diaries written by Napoleon, and intricate bindings crafted by Tiffany. Click here for more information.
Literary-themed Restaurants and Bars
The Owl Bar
1 East Chase Street
F. Scott Fitzgerald and H.L. Mencken were frequently seen together in this bar of the historic Belvedere Hotel in Mount Vernon. Not much has changed since the Jazz Age (a term Fitzgerald coined); the dimly lit bar features oak benches and stained-glass windows, and even an owl statue that signaled when the police were near with the blink of its eyes during prohibition. Click here for more information.
3620 Falls Road
For more contemporary literature, head to Atomic Books, an independent bookstore in focusing on indie comics and small press. In the back of the store is Eightbar, a laidback lounge perfect for drinks while you read. Click here for more information.
Ida B’s Table
235 Holliday Street
Ida B’s Table pays homage to Ida B. Wells, an African-American investigative journalist, educator, and early leader in the Civil Rights Movement. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with southern influences and is housed in the same building as The Real News Network. TRNN is a non-profit, viewer-supported daily video news and documentary service. Click here for more information.
The Bluebird Cocktail Room
3600 Hickory Avenue
This literary-themed bar in Hampden features large communal tables, navy blue walls, a gas fireplace, and a long bar for pub-style dining service. The cocktails (named after the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf) are complemented by a menu of European bistro fare including charcuterie, fried sweetbreads, and steak fries. Click here for more information.
700 Aliceanna Street
Located inside the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, Apropoe's restaurant gives a subtle nod to Edgar Allan Poe with its gothic feel. Dishes are classic American inspired by local fare with names like the Poe burger. Click here for more information.
1 E. Redwood Street
This restaurant and bar in the downtown Delta Hotel by Marriott pays homage to Edgar Allan Poe’s short story "The Tell-Tale Heart." Small touches such as the ravens on the carpet also harken back to the famous writer. Click here for more information.
801 W. 36th Street
Stop by this handmade ice cream shop for the Poe-inspired flavor Tell Tale Chocolate. Stay for the other one-of-a-kind flavors like Old Bay caramel and Otterbein Sugar Cookie. Click here for more information.