Visiting Dead Authors Allows for Sister Bonding and Meeting Heroes

For most people, road trips typically end at a beach or a tourist destination, but that isn’t the case for instructional coach Megan Steffen. 

For many years now, Steffen and her sister have gone on what she calls “dead author road trips.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1921

The two pack a cooler and other essentials, then hop in the car and drive to the homes and graves of famous authors. 

“When I travel, it is really fun to have a destination in mind,” said Steffen on why she started these trips. “I can’t just sit on the beach and do nothing. I like to do things and see things, so (these trips) give me an idea of where to go.”

Steffen said that she isn’t a beach sitter, so visiting these writers gives her a plan and type of structure when traveling. 

Steffen referred to her and her sister as big English and book nerds, and since her sister does not live near Boone County, the trips work as a good bonding experience. 

“We travel around a lot and it’s just a kind of nerdy fun,” she said. 

Steffen said she really loves literature, so visiting these graves and recreation homes are a type of “hero worship” for her.

“When you have a favorite writer, you don’t get to spend time with them or hang out with them,” she said. “It’s kind of cool to see where my heroes grew up.”

While a dead body is kind of morbid, it is super cool to think that Shakespeare is right underneath my feet, she said. 

From Mark Twain to Edgar Allan Poe, Steffen has visited over 20 different gravesites and houses. 

The two sisters have even seen some international authors.

Over the summer, Steffen went to visit her sister for a few weeks who was teaching a college course in London, England.

There, the two were able to visit the graves and homes of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and other writers buried in the city.

Some other authors that Steffen has traveled to see are Louisa May Alcott, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Laura Ingalls Wilder, William Faulkner, and her favorite poet, Walt Whitman. 

Steffen said that Walt Whitman’s recreation house in Cambridge, New Jersey was her favorite recreation home to date because it included many items that he actually owned. 

She said that the house was so authentic that it felt like Walt Whitman had “just stepped out for a minute and would be back.”

Aside from Walt Whitman, some of Steffen’s favorite writers include F. Scott Fitzgerald and Louisa May Alcott. 

While she could never pick just one, Steffen said that “Little Women” may be her favorite book due to sentimental reasons. 

A child’s version of “Little Women” was the first novel Steffen remembers reading as a kid, which was a big accomplishment at the time.  

In high school, she always had a deep love for the 1994 movie adaptation. 

When the 2019 version came out, Steffen said that she was prepared to hate it. 

However, the Louisa May Alcott easter eggs and similarities to the original book quickly changed her perspective. 

Steffen loved the new movie, and even described it as “a love letter to Louisa May Alcott.”

In regards to her career, Steffen said that she was “late in finding herself.”

Up until the age of 27, she had been working at Children’s Hospital. 

Her love for English and reading eventually led her to get an English literature degree and become a teacher. 

After three years teaching English at Boone, Steffen became the instructional coach, in which she acts as teachers’ support and helps them in the classroom and in their professional development. 

“I just needed time to figure out what I wanted to do,” she said.

This article first appeared in The Rebellion.