The Great Gatsby and More: Literary Tourism in Minnesota

By James Riemermann

Summit Avenue walking tour
Summit Avenue walking tour group

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s deep understanding of the power and dangers of wealth in America, portrayed so hauntingly in "The Great Gatsby," he first gained by observing neighbors far wealthier than himself around his childhood home on the north side of Summit Avenue in St. Paul. "A house below the average on a street above the average," he once called it, though it would count among the classiest homes on most other streets.

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Home, at 599 Summit, is just one of many fascinating literary sites in Minnesota, in addition to several literary-themed institutions and events, many of which are linked at the bottom of this page. That classy Summit Avenue neighborhood is home to a walking or driving tour of 13 buildings that played a significant role in Fitzgerald’s development as a young man and a writer.

Sinclair Lewis Home in Sauk CentreMinnesota was also home to the beloved children's book authors Laura Ingalls Wilder of the "Little House" books, depicting family life on the American frontier; Maud Hart Lovelace of the Betsy-Tacy books; and Wanda Gag, who wrote and illustrated the 1929 Newbury Honor Award-winning "Millions of Cats," the oldest American picture book still in print. Minnesota sites devoted to each of these writers are listed below, as well as an annual pageant dedicated to Wilder in Walnut Grove, where she lived as a child, and later wrote about in "On the Banks of Plum Creek."

Sinclair Lewis, best known for satirical novels of the American middle class (such as "Babbitt") and small town life (such as "Main Street"), grew up in Sauk Centre. His boyhood home is open to visitors, filled with period antiques, with tour guides who share stories of his life and career.

Minneapolis is home to the highly regarded Loft Literary Center, The Playwrights’ Center, Center for the Book, and several other attractions and events of interest to book lovers of all kinds.

Literary Sites & Events