Certain authors or works of literature can become so associated with a particular geographical region that they almost seem to represent them. John Steinbeck, author of boos like Cannery Row and The Grapes of Wrath, is a hero of Salinas, California (there’s even a John Steinbeck museum in that town). The French town is Toulouse could not be prouder of Victor Hugo, and his quintessential French novels, The Hunchbank of Notre Dame and Les Miserables. And while most people have never heard of Prince Edward Island, Canada, if they have it’s almost certainly because of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. Great authors and great novels can put places on the map.
Though Lee has proven to be a figure as enigmatic as her own Boo Radley, it’s almost impossible to overstate the effect To Kill a Mockingbird has had on American readers and writers. The book was almost an instant classic and remains as a staple of any high-school English curriculum worth its salt. There are a number of reasons why the book is universally praised. Its themes: integrity in the face of corruption, equality in the face of discrimination and hope in the face of despair are about as uplifting as one could hope to find. The writing is, of course, beyond reproach, and though the story may not have the typical “happy ending” the idea that good people will continue to fight the good fight against all odds is a hard one to find fault with.
Shakespeare seemed to want to make sure his work would be associated with particular regions of Europe: Verona, Denmark, and, of course, Scotland. Even though Macbeth is the only one of the Bard’s tragic plays to be set in Scotland, the play and its titular character are almost synonymous in the minds of many fans. With memorable characters like Lady Macbeth and the three witches (speakers of memorable Macbeth quotes like “Double double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble”), and a dramatic tale of murder and treachery, its maybe not the best representation of present-day Scotland, but it remains a key aspect of Scottish identity (luckily for Scots, otherwise they might just be stuck with the kilt).