(CNN)Writers sometimes travel far from home to find inspiration, or even the freedom to express themselves.
Others are so closely associated with a place that it’s hard to know whether the city left its mark on an author, or if it was the other way around.
Here are 23 writers whose words helped define a particular place.
Some places have returned the love with museums and monuments. Others simply allow readers to walk in a writer’s footsteps and experience sites of great inspirations.
Mark Twain’s Mississippi River (Missouri)
Reading through “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” or “Huckleberry Finn” today, the landscape around the Mississippi River feels almost unrecognizable.
When he wrote in the 1800s, the river was frontier land, not the powerful transport network that links half the United States, lined with farms and dotted with major cities.
However, his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri has preserved some of the sights that the boy Samuel Clemson explored before he become famous — including the caves that became the scene of Tom and Huck’s escapades.
A riverboat called the Mark Twain plies the river and takes visitors to Jackson’s Island, where Huck and the escaped slave Jim first realized a manhunt was after them.
Amy Tan’s San Francisco (California)
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the setting, and arguably a character, in many of Amy Tan’s novels.
In her breakthrough “The Joy Luck Club,” which was also made into a successful film, the main character Waverly Place Jong was named after the street that her family lived on.
Parts of the traditional Chinatown are now more Vietnamese, or even Russian. But Waverly Place is still home to the oldest Chinese temple in the United States, Tin How Temple.
Waverly is known as the “street of the painted balconies,” because of the brightly painted shops and restaurants.
James Joyce’s Dublin (Ireland)
One of the great writers of 20th-century China, Lu Xun occupies a peculiar place in the country.
A leftist who never joined the Communist Party, his blistering critiques of tyranny still shape political thought today.
Because the party embraced him, his presence in Shanghai has been enshrined. There’s a Lu Xun Memorial Hall (200 Tian’ai Rd, LuXun GongYuan, Hongkou Qu, Shanghai; +86 21 6540 2288), a Lu Xun Park (2288 Sichuan N Rd, LuXun GongYuan, Hongkou Qu, Shanghai; +86 21 6540 1561), and the Lu Xun Memorial Tomb.
The selections of his works on display are, needless to say, carefully selected to avoid any possible critique of the current government.
While the park is beautiful, it’s more interesting to wander through what used to be foreign concessions where he set up his League of Leftist Writers. The league’s building is on Duolun Road, now a popular tourist and shopping area.
Stieg Larsson’s Stockholm (Sweden)
The global publishing success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy — not to mention the films made from them — has given Stockholm a new appeal for fans of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
The Stockholm City Museum runs a walking tour that takes fans into the world of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, or at least into their trendy neighborhood of Sodermalm.
It’s a chance to see where Larsson placed the fictional sites in his books, from journalist Blomkvist’s favorite caf to Salander’s favorite tattoo parlor.
JRR Tolkien’s Birmingham (England)
The film versions of “The Lord of the Rings” made New Zealand synonymous with the novels, a role the country has eagerly embraced. (The national airline featured the characters in a safety video).
But the actual inspiration for the books more likely draws from Tolkien’s life in England. Born in South Africa, his family moved outside of Birmingham when he was four years old.
His childhood centered on the bucolic hamlet of Sarehole, where the pastures, streams and woods are widely considered as the inspiration for the Shire and Hobbiton.
Nearby, the towers of Perrott’s Folly (44 Waterworks Rd, Birmingham) echo “The Two Towers.”
When Tolkien was a boy, the clanking engine and steam from the Edgbaston Waterworks would have sounded like Mordor’s Barad-dr, the Dark Tower.
The city of Birmingham maintains a Tolkien Trail to help visitors find the sites.