Writers’ Houses Gives You a Virtual Tour of Famous Authors’ Homes


I’ve always been some­what amused by the accounts of Paul Ver­laine and Arthur Rimbaud’s brief bohemi­an affair. The old­er, mar­ried, and inter­nal­ly tor­tured Catholic Verlaine’s pin­ing for the self-destruc­tive and pre­co­cious young Rim­baud always presents a ridicu­lous pic­ture in prose. But it’s a pic­ture that takes on much clear­er con­tours when, for the first time, I get to see the house they occu­pied on 8 Roy­al Col­lege Street (above). The image of the house, with its for­bid­ding brick façade, gives their real­ly pret­ty unpleas­ant sto­ry a grav­i­tas that lit­er­ary his­to­ry can’t approach. Whether seen in per­son or in a pho­to­graph, the effect of view­ing any revered author’s home is sim­i­lar: his­to­ries once sub­ject to biog­ra­phers’ caprice take on the irrefutable weight of phys­i­cal real­i­ty. And while I’d love to have the lux­u­ry of a pil­grim­age to all my lit­er­ary heroes’ homes, I’m con­tent with the next best thing: an inter­net tour in pic­tures. That’s exact­ly what one gets at the Writ­ers’ Hous­es site, which has col­lect­ed dozens of images of famous writ­ers’ homes, sourced main­ly from user pho­tos.

And so home­bod­ies like myself can read their favorite Edna St. Vin­cent Mil­lay son­nets while gaz­ing at her Auster­litz, NY home “Steeple­top” (below, a bit more mod­est than I’d imag­ined):

Like­wise, I can read Flan­nery O’Connor’s grotesque lit­tle sto­ries and be con­tin­u­al­ly amazed that she did not emerge from some Medieval clois­ter in a fiery South­ern wild but from the bright, ram­bling farm­house called “Andalu­sia” (below).

And while I can only con­nect Thomas Hardy’s coun­try goth­ic nov­els and bleak poet­ry with the ter­mi­nal despair of a man who nev­er leaves his fire­lit study in some stur­dy, for­mal estate, his lit­tle cot­tage (below) is real­ly kind of cheery and resem­bles some­thing out of Peter Jackson’s Shire (though Hardy’s “Max Gate” home in Dorch­ester is exact­ly what I pic­ture him in).

The Writ­ers’ Hous­es site allows you to browse by author, state, and city, with a sep­a­rate cat­e­go­ry for “inter­na­tion­al hous­es.” Its main page is a reg­u­lar blog with a wealth of cur­rent infor­ma­tion on writ­ers’ homes, replete with links to oth­er sites and sources. For lovers of trav­el and archi­tec­tur­al and lit­er­ary his­to­ry, this is not to be missed.

via Kot­tke

Josh Jones is a doc­tor­al can­di­date in Eng­lish at Ford­ham Uni­ver­si­ty and a co-founder and for­mer man­ag­ing edi­tor of Guer­ni­ca / A Mag­a­zine of Arts and Pol­i­tics.

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