This marvelous museum is a required stop for all of us who have ever dreamed of writing successful novels in a lovely lagoonside house. James Norman Hall was a U.S. army pilot in France during World War I, when he was shot down behind German lines and held prisoner. He met Charles Nordhoff in Paris shortly after the war, and together they wrote The Lafayette Flying Corp, the story of the American unit that fought for France before the U.S. entered the war. In 1920, they moved to Tahiti, where they sailed around on copra schooners and wrote Faery Lands of the South Seas. In 1932, they published Mutiny on the Bounty, the first of their three novels about the incident and its aftermath (Men Against the Sea and Pitcairn's Island are the others). It was turned into the 1935 movie starring Clark Gable and Charles Laughton, and the 1962 remake with Marlon Brando. Hall and Nordhoff penned several more books about the islands, including Hurricane, which was also turned into two movies.
Hall and his wife, Sarah Teraireia Winchester Hall, lived their entire married lives here in Arue. Their family manages the house, which is an exact reproduction of their home, and has stocked it with Hall's typewriter, original manuscripts, and tons of heirlooms and memorabilia. (One of the three Oscars won by his son, the late Hollywood cinematographer Conrad L. Hall, is here.) The office is adorned with photographs of him with Zane Grey, Robert Dean Frisbee, and other men-of-the-pen when they dropped by for visits. One of Hall's grandsons still lives on the property, so you will need permission to visit his grave on the hill above the house. Staff members lead 30-minute tours and sell coffee and soft drinks. The free parking lot is across the highway beside the lagoon; if coming from Papeete, you'll have to turn around at the next traffic circle and come back to reach it.
Shipwrecked -- While researching the novel Pitcairn's Island, which he coauthored with Charles Nordhoff, James Norman Hall disappeared for several months in 1933 after being shipwrecked near Mangareva, between Tahiti and Pitcairn.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Very Highly Recommended 2010