More Tea, Author?

I think it was Becca‘s post about Daphne du Maurier, and my recent purchase of Letters from Menabilly, which got me thinking about authors’ houses, and visiting them. A while ago my friend Barbara-from-Ludlow wrote to me, mentioning a course she was running – the importance of the horse in literature; as an extra character; providing atmosphere etc. etc…. I was bemused until I realised that I had misread ‘horse’ where she had in fact written ‘house’… !

Authors’ own homes are fascinating. I find it really interesting to see where other bloggers are blogging from – and have provided shots of my views in Magdalen and Somerset – but it is even more engaging to seek out the stamping grounds of my favourite writers. Sometimes these are open to the public – like Jane Austen’s lovely home in Hampshire, Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Batemans’, and Thomas Hardy’s in Dorset – others, like AA Milne’s and EM Delafield’s aren’t. In fact, with both of those, I had to use my knowledge from biographies to find the house – the photos are below – and took the photos illicitly by running down the driveways.. It is Milne’s and Delafield’s which felt most special, because, being privately owned, it felt more like I was visiting them rather than a tourist attraction. I suppose seeing the home is a step away from visiting the author; makes them more tangible and almost friendly.

E. M. Delafield’s in Kentisbeare, Devon – I first went there in 2005, and lost the photo when my computer crashed. Our Vicar’s Wife very kindly took this picture for me on a return visit through the village.

AA Milne’s house in East Sussex, hidden away along a rough track – a very special moment for me. Taken in the days before the digital camera, so this is a photo of a photo… it sat on my wall at university, and confused those who thought I lived there (I wish!)

Which authors’ houses have you visited? Open to the public or, like me, hunted out? Do tell…

18 thoughts on “More Tea, Author?

  • June 4, 2008 at 4:07 am

    Hi there. Your post made me think of the New York Times’ article I read on Mark Twain’s House which might have to close! How sad.

    I visited Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s House in the lovely Lake District last year (
    And perhaps it doesn’t really count, but The Green Gables House on Prince Edward Island was an absolute delight, as is the rest of that beautiful island!

  • June 4, 2008 at 7:07 am

    You’re so right about this! I went to Beatrix Potter’s house quite a few times when I was younger, and it always gave me a sense of who she was.
    I always love wandering round cities and seeing blue plaques dedicated to the person that lived there. There’s one near me (and you at the moment) that used to shelter William Morris – but sadly it’s the car designer, not the writers and artist. I think it’s on James St – but don’t quote me!
    Also – I love those two sneaky pics you took!

  • June 4, 2008 at 11:49 am

    After searching the net I’m very surprised and disappointed to find that most of our Swedish author’s homes don’t have a web site – or if they have they are not very informative.

    Selma Lagerlöf’s (öf) home Mårbacka is situated only half an hour’s drive from where I live and it is well worth a visit.

    Carl ( and Karin Larsson’s home in Sundborn is perhaps one of the most well-known – it also has an English site

    Ellen Key’s ( Strand is a beautiful house overlooking the Lake Vättern. I found nothing about her home but you can find some quotes here:

    Not very far from Strand is another home worth a visit; Verner von Heidenstam’s ÖvralidÖvralid, .

    Another interesting home, albeit not an author’s home, is Zorngården the home of the painter Anders Zorn,

    There is a chapter about Selma Lagerlöf and Mårbacka in Francesca Premoli-Droulers’ book “Writer’s Houses.

  • June 4, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    I was happy to take the photo, but I can assure you that I didn’t run at any stage of the proceedings! I was even prepared to speak to the owners to seek permission, but, sadly, they were not at home!

  • June 4, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    I have visited Louisa May Alcott’s House in Concord; Bronte Parsonage in Haworth (of course!); Wordsworth’s House in the Lake District; ditto Beatrix Potter’s home Hilltop; Thomas Carlyle’s house in Chelsea; and I am throwing in Paul Revere’s house in Boston as he featured in a poem but was a silversmith!
    am ashamed to say I have never visited jane austen’s home but am determined to remedy that as soon as possible

  • June 4, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Oh, I forgot Thoreau – I’ve been to Walden Pond. Even if the hut he lived in isn’t there any longer you can see several replicas at other places in town.

    I’ve heard they had plans to build condos there – have anybody heard or seen if they have carried out the plans?

  • June 4, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    You remind me that I’ve also been to Beatrix Potter’s beautiful house, and Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage. Also Winston Churchill’s house if he counts… he did get the Nobel Prize for Literature. Seen the outside of Dorothy L Sayer’s, since it’s in Oxford, and spent many an evening in Magdalen’s Oscar Wilde Room, where he was an undergraduate!

  • June 4, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    I can’t promise you any pictures of people’s houses, but I will send you a writerish postcard from New York, if I can find one!

  • June 4, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I love Batemans too, all that wood panelling gave me a wonderful sense of peacefullness. Last year I made my maiden voyage to Sissinghurst home of Vita Sackville-West. I noticed an article in The Guardian last week that said Greenway one of the former homes of Agatha Christie which is now owned by the National Trust is due to open sometime in 2009 (the gardens are already open). There are so many writers’ homes I would like to visit, and your blog has just reminded me. I think the next one on my ‘hit list’ is Lamb House former home to Henry James and E. F. Benson.

  • June 5, 2008 at 3:48 am

    Oh, wonderful memories of the ‘old country’ – Keats, Hardy, Wordsworth, Carlyle.

  • June 5, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    I have been inside the pre-restoration Isokon flats in London NW3. Agatha Christie lived there for a time, but rather more importantly (in my humble opinsion) so did Gropius, Breuer and Moholy-Nagy. Agatha Christie compared the exterior to that of an giant ocean liner, which is indeed an excellent description of it. The Isokon is a truly beautiful modernist building as you can appreciate here

    Dark Puss

  • June 5, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Peter, that is beautiful – I could never live anywhere which couldn’t cope with clutter, but as a piece of architecture the building is stunning. I feel very ignorant, though, in that I’ve not heard of Gropius, Breuer and Moholy-Nagy…

  • June 5, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    That reminds me, forgot to tell you – on the trip to Kent we visited what is apparently the real Hundred Acre Wood. And convincingly recreated a scene from Winnie the Pooh, I think. Hum. You’ll have to have a look at the photo.

  • June 6, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Sadly I can’t think of a single author, though does it count that I did visit George Washington’s mother’s house in Fredericksburg, Virginia? It’s quite small. And I also have visited Mount Vernon, George’s home, which is much, much larger, complete with working (still to this day) gardens. Willa Cather’s home is located in the state I live, but it’s a good six or seven hours from my city, so I’ve never been there. Actually I’ve seen Franz Kafka’s house (one place he lived) in Prague–it was quite tiny! So I have seen an author house! :)

  • June 7, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    In London: – Carlyle, Cheyne Row – Dickens, Doughty St. – Keats, in Hampstead – The artist, Hogarth’s house, Chiswick. – – plus, – Jane Austin, Chawton – E.F. Benson, Rye, E.Sussex – was also home of Henry James & Rumer Godden (& photographed outside Benson’s 25 Brompton Sq., London, a private res.) – Bronte Parsonage, Hawworth – Hardy, in Devon – Beatrix Potter, Far Sawry – Vita Sackville-West, Sissinghurst – Shakespeare, S…Avon – – as well as, – Yeats’ Thoor Ballylee, near Gort, County Galway. On this side of the pond, not as many: Lucy Maud Montgomery, Cavendish PEI – Mark Twain & Harriett Beecher Stowe houses are next door to each other in Hartford CT – – and Kate Chopin, Cloutierville Louisiana.
    As I was writing this, a friend walked in with a gift – a signed copy of a new bio. of LMM. He just returned from Ottawa where he had been to a presentation by the author (He arrived a bit late and the managed to find a seat amid the remaining family members).
    Nancy B.T., MA

  • June 7, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Ooops! Cavendish PEI is where the author lived (a town that is now too much now of a carnival atmosphere for me). We actually visited the farmhouse (of her grandparents, I believe) where she spent a lot of time and used as inspiration in her books. It’s in Park Corner PEI (happened to be very near where we had a house for a week). Nancy B.T., MA

  • June 8, 2008 at 12:02 am

    As you weren’t even born, can’t expect you to remember that AA Milne’s house is where a Rolling Stone drowned in the swimming pool back in 1969.

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