Mississippi: A Vibrant Literary & Artistic Legacy

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Oxford, once home to the great American novelist William Faulkner, is considered the literary capital of the South, and Square Books is one of its most popular hot spots. The independent bookstore stocks the work of legendary Magnolia State authors, newly noted fiction, and regional guides. In June, Oxford’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will be the site of one of three major bicentennial concerts.

Rowan Oak, in Oxford, is the family home of Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner, regarded by some as America's greatest novelist. In hilarious and heartbreaking masterpieces such as the Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, and Light in August, Faulkner explored the emotional and physical landscape of a fictional Mississippi county, drawing on the culture of the region's diverse communities and turbulent history and experimenting with literary styles in ways that mirrored modernist movements in visual art and music. Today, visitors enjoy seeing the sprawling estate and home of a true American master.

Mississippi’s capital, Jackson, is one of Budget Travel’s “50 Cities Every American Should See.” We love its classic architecture, vibrantly revitalized downtown, and the fact that two major museums will be opening here during the state’ bicentennial year: The Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. And in December, Jackson’s Entergy Plaza will play host to one of three major bicentennial concerts. 

(Americanspirit/Dreamstime)

The Eudora Welty House, in Jackson’s Belhaven neighborhood, commemorates the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Optimist's Daughter in the place where she created her acclaimed novels and works of short fiction. Visitors not only love the home and tour, but the spectacular garden is worth the trip all by itself, having been painstakingly reconstructed to its original 1925-1945 splendor.

Visitors to Natchez must take in architectural wonder Longwood, an unfinished octagonal home built by Haller Nutt (the house is sometimes referred to as “Nutt’s Folly”).

Tunica is a great place for a resort stay, with cool concert halls and lots to do. While you're enjoying your resort stay, don't miss the free Tunica Museum, which is devoted to the history of the Mississippi Delta.

The Apron Museum, in Iuka, catches the eye of visitors as they walk by, and surprises and delights them when they stop in to see a unique history lesson in the form of an apron collection ranging from flour-sack work aprons to fancy aprons worn by women entertaining guests, branded aprons, and much more.

Yazoo City is where author Willie Morris did much of his writing, evoking the Deep South’s past and present in novels such as My Dog Skip. Morris passed away in 1999 and his gravesite draws literary devotees.

Bay St. Louis is one of our favorite Mississippi beach towns, one of Budget Travel's Coolest Small Towns in America. It's a great destination for art lovers who want to see cutting-edge work at local galleries in between dips in the Gulf.

(Courtesy Ellis Anderson)

Walter Anderson Museum of Art, in Ocean Springs, celebrates the work of the inventive Mississippi artist in a unique environment that immerses visitors in his work.

The Mississippi Museum of Art, in Jackson, is the largest museum in the state and it delivers a great mix of past masters and current Mississippi artists, not to mention an incredible garden that is a work of art unto itself.

Ocean Springs is also home to the moving Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

(Visit Mississippi/Flickr)

The Magnolia State’s celebrated authors and artists were the first to "look back while moving forward," making Mississippi rich cultural history a jumping-off point for dynamic works that speak directly to us today. Here, a look at past masters plus the vital contemporary literary and art scene happening during Mississippi's bicentennial year.

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