Boston: literary, musical, dramatic, movie settings

This section of the Boston and Its Neighborhood guide lists literature, fiction, music, plays, television, and movies that are set in  Boston.  Click on the link in the menu on the right to access the genre you want. Here are a few examples:


From Henry James’ novel, The Bostonians, first published as a book in 1886:

“‘…She didn’t tell me to say she was glad to see you, because she doesn’t know whether she is or not, and she wouldn’t for the world expose herself to telling a fib. She is very honest, is Olive Chancellor; she is full of rectitude. Nobody tells fibs in Boston; I don’t know what to make of them all…'”


In this novel, Henry James coined the the phrase, “Boston Marriage,”  to describe the relationship of two unmarried women sharing a household. A century later,  the playwright David Manet wrote and produced Boston Marriage,   performed by the  American Repertory Theatre at the Hasty Pudding Theatre, Cambridge, MA, June 4-7, 1999.


On Boston buildings,

“He had never been in the Music Hall before, and its lofty vaults and rows of overhanging balconies made it to his imagination immense and impressive. There were two or three moments during which he felt as he could imagine a young man to feel who, waiting in a public place, has made up his mind, for reasons of his own, to discharge a pistol at the king or the president. The place struck him with a kind of Roman vastness; the doors which opened out of the upper balconies, high aloft, and which were constantly swinging to and fro with the passage of spectators and ushers, reminded him of the vomitoria that he had read about in descriptions of the Colosseum. The huge organ, the background of the stage–a stage occupied with tiers of seats for choruses and civic worthies–lifted to the dome its shining pipes and sculptured pinnacles, and some genius of music or oratory erected himself in monumental bronze at the base.”

From Henry James’ novel, The Bostonians, first published as a book in 1886.


In 1949,  Charlie on the MTA was the campaign song for the Progressive Party’s mayoral candidate:

Now you citizens of Boston,
Don’t you think it’s a scandal
That the people have to pay and pay
Vote for Walter A. O’Brien
And fight the fare increase
Get poor Charley off the MTA.