A Peek Inside Famous Writers' Homes


Last month, The New York Times ran a slideshow of Norman Mailer’s Brooklyn Heights apartment, which will be up for sale shortly. This got us thinking about our favorite authors, where they lived, and how much our environment shapes our work. (If it does, then we’re really in trouble, since we mostly write in a dark Brooklyn apartment with neighbors who smoke packs of cigarettes and scream at their children in languages we don’t understand.) A.N. Devers, a literary pilgrim, commissioned Michael Fusco and Emma Straub to make great, inexpensive posters of authors’ domiciles — from Emily Dickinson’s homestead to Zora Neale Hurston’s modest bungalow — and they are available here. If you’re interested in a writer’s first person account of her tour of famous authors’ homes, then check out A Skeptic’s Guide to Writers’ Houses by Anne Trubek. Click through now to take a virtual tour of some of our favorite writers’ residences.

Truman Capote in his Brooklyn Heights apartment

Slim Aarons took this photo of Truman Capote in 1958, when the author was in his thirties. His penchant for all things kitsch is on display, but the silk wall hanging for whatever reason just kills us. You can view more of Aarons’ photos at Photographers Gallery.

Norman Mailer’s apartment in Brooklyn Heights

The caption reads: “In the author’s raucous younger years there was a hammock strung up between the rafters, a trapeze swing dangling from the ceiling and a rope ladder, providing a more adventurous way to scale the apartment.” You can see more images of Norman Mailer’s expansive, book-filled apartment in The New York Times here.

Hemingway’s house in Key West, Florida

Papa Hemingway loved hunting, drinking, and reading, and his airy winter retreat in Key West proves it. The only thing this photo is missing is a six-toed cat.

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s desk in his apartment in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Image courtesy of the University of Washington Libraries

Our favorite Slavophile lived at this address during the last years of his life, when he was writing The Brothers Karamazov. The apartment was turned into a museum in the late 1990s, so fans can head over to Vladimirskaya/Dostoyevskaya metro and run their hands across the woodwork or try to create a distraction so they can sit at his desk, pretending they too have a glorious beard and intense, world-weary eyes from years of political exile.

Gertrude Stein’s and Alice B. Toklas’ Paris abode

Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas in the apartment at 27 rue de Fleurus, Paris, 1922; Photo credit: Man Ray; private collection

This is where Stein amassed her unparalleled modern art collection, and this is also where salons would be held on Saturday evenings, where Guillaume Apollinaire and Georges Braque would banter about whatever renown poets and artists banter about when they’re together.

Yukio Mishima’s house in Tokyo

Photo credit: Farfalla Tokyo

We recently ran a post about contemporary Japanese writers, but since Yukio Mishima is no longer living, we decided not to include him on the list. As reparations, here is the entrance to his home in Tokyo. Serious Japanophiles can see interior images of his house in Kishin Shinoyama’s photo book, Yukio Mishima’s House.

Agatha Christie’s English summer home

The BBC features images of it pre-renovation here, while the Telegraph has some illuminating photos here.

Agatha Christie bought Greenway, a Georgian mansion on the southern tip of England, in the late 1930s. At the time, Christie bought the mansion and 33-acre property for £6,000, and then had an architect renovate it, reportedly telling him, “I want a big bath and I need a ledge because I like to eat apples.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s study

The Longfellow House is now a national historic site, but the 19th century poet lived here with his wife and three children, as well as with his brother, Reverend Samuel Longfellow. You can take a virtual tour of the house and grounds here.

John Steinbeck’s home in Salinas, California

Image via This Recording

The Nobel Prize-winning author of The Grapes of Wrath and the novella Of Mice and Men (not to mention his magnum opus, East of Eden) was born and raised in Salinas, AKA “The Salad Bowl of America.”

Gwendolyn Brooks outside of her home in Chicago

Even though it was taken outside, we couldn’t resisting adding another photo by Slim Aarons. The photographer captured the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet on the steps outside her house in Chicago. Gwendolyn Brooks lived in the city for most of her life, becoming the Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968. Interested collectors can find C-prints here, and you can find an expansive book of her poetry here.