Edith Wharton read Walt Whitman aloud with her friends. On summer nights they would sit on the terrace here at The Mount in Lenox and savor lines of Leaves of Grass
I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, formed from this soil, this air …

Writers and storytellers have come to the Berkshires for centuries to find a voice and a place to work. Lorraine Hansberry stayed at Festival House in Lenox as a quiet retreat around the time A Raisin in the Sun became the first play written by a black woman ever produced on Broadway.

Contemporary writers look up at the hills from their own desks — novelists like Andrea Barrett, Jim Shepard, John Crowley, Roxana Robinson; poets laureate Richard Wilbur and William Jay Smith; memoirists and food writers Ruth Reichl and Darra Goldstein. We lift many voices.

Writers in the Berkshires

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Photo by Kate Abbott

Arrowhead

Herman Melville and his family were living in the Berkshires, in a farmhouse in Pittsfield, while he wrote ‘Moby-Dick’ in the 1850s. From his desk, he could see the outline of Mount Greylock above the surrounding hills, and it reminded him of a sperm whale’s back in the water, when the whale came up to breathe.

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Courtesy of the Mastheads

Mastheads

Writers in residence with the Mastheads program come to the Berkshires for a month of writing, weekly roundtables and events with WordxWord poets in July. They work in five outdoor studios designed by Mastheads founders Tessa Kelly and Chris Parkinson, in honor of five writers who knew these hills in the 19th century.

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Nikki Giovanni / MCLA

MCLA

National and international figures come to visit the students at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, ranked in the top 10 public colleges in U.S. News and World Report and appears in U.S. News’ list of Top National Liberal Arts colleges.

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Photo by Kate Abbott

Norad Mill

Moresi & Associates has drawn more than 40 local businesses to the renovated Norad Mill — artists and artisans, coffee and local wines, vintage records, yarn shops and even rocks and minerals.

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Photo by Kate Abbott

The Bookstore

The Bookstore in Lenox has been ‘serving the community since last Tuesday’ for more than 40 years with contemporary fiction and a deep collection of poetry, Judaica, science, history … and readings in the Get Lit wine bar.

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Sarah Kenyon / Courtesy of The Mount

The Mount

Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, wrote many of her best-known novels in this house, in the 10 years she lived in Lenox — from The House of Mirth to Ethan Frome. Her house is now a museum, a center of writing, music and performance, landscape and gardens, dedicated to keeping her spirit alive.

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Photo by Kate Abbott

Williams College

Williams College is named the top liberal arts college in the country, out in the Berkshire hills with an art museum, theater and music, talks and trails — and a spirit of making its own fun.

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WordxWord / Photo by Jess Gamari

WordxWord

WordxWord gathers writers to perform their own work live in the Berkshires. They come into coffee shops and museums, and compete in poetry and story slams, picking up the mic without a script. They hold events year-round and a weeklong festival through downtown Pittsfield in August.

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