I love old houses (old buildings in general, actually). While I can appreciate the practical benefits of a new house, they can be a bit… boring (and after seeing the “same” new house a thousand times while house hunting, I’m even more bored of them now). Old houses have style. They have personality. They have soul. Throw in a resident writer and you’ve got a house worth living in (or at least visiting– see below for links). Here are 10 writers’ houses that are worth checking out…
Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, England: The cottage where Thomas Hardy was born. I love the thatched roof and garden.
Galmpton, Devon, England: Greenway Estate, home to Agatha Christie, was designated a World Heritage Site in 2004. Christie set several of her novels in the area.
Danville, California, USA: Eugene O’Neill wrote The Iceman Cometh and Long Day’s Journey Into Night at Tao House. This looks like a cozy space to work.
Rodmell, East Sussex, England: Not only is Monk’s House where Virginia Woolf worked on Mrs. Dalloway, it was also where she hosted the Bloomsbury Group.
Amherst, Massachusetts, USA: With a house like this, I can understand why Emily Dickinson was a recluse. The poet didn’t spend her entire life at the Homestead, but she was born here, and after moving back as a young woman spent the rest of her life here.
Draveil (former village of Champrosay), France: Can I just go ahead and move into Alphonse Daudet’s home, located a few kilometres south of Paris? Daudet finished Letters from My Windmill here, and also held famous weekly gatherings of the luminaries of the French arts scene (Zola, Proust & Rodin were among the regulars).
Nohant, Indre, France: More gorgeous French style at George Sand’s home. Sand wrote many of her books here, as well as hosting artists, musicians, and writers (Frédéric Chopin lived, and composed, here for several years). The house has been classified as a National Historic Monument of France.
Hartford, Connecticut, USA: Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in this house’s billiards room, which also doubled as his study. I wonder if he got distracted by billiards the way modern writers get distracted by the internet.
Lenox, Massachusetts, USA: Edith Wharton’s grand home, The Mount, was where she wrote most of her novels, and where she presumably implemented the advice from her first book (co-authored with Ogden Codman), The Decoration of Houses.
Concord, Massachusetts, USA: Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women. A lot of Victorian interiors can seem fussy or claustrophobic, thanks to the “more still isn’t enough” design aesthetic of the time, but this room feels light and pleasant.
What’s your favourite writer’s home? Share in the comments…
What kind of house would a vampire live in? Get my books to find out…
If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥
The picture is of the Medici Fountain in the Luxembourg Gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg) in Paris. The fountain was built in 1630, eventually falling into disrepair before being restored in 1811. The figures are the mythical lovers Acis, a mortal, and the nereid Galatia. Above them is the giant Polyphemus:
He’s on the back cover of Love Lies Bleeding. I thought the statues suited the book’s characters, particularly how Acis is staring at Galatia’s neck (echoing vampire Mara and mortal Lee), while a menacing figure looms over them. What do you think– were these photos a good choice? Let me know in the comments.
Find out if the covers suit the books– download them now…
It’s also Independent Bookstore Day today! Use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥
Valentine’s Day, the romantic holiday with pagan roots is tomorrow. While it’s a sweet day for some, it can also be a painful reminder of loneliness and heartbreak. But then, love itself isn’t always sunshine and roses (there’s a reason Cupid uses a bow and arrow instead of blowing kisses). Whether you think romance is a pleasure or a pain, here are 5 real-life love stories that might convince you otherwise…
Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal
Prince Kurram (the future Shah Jahan), son of the Mughal Emperor, and Arjumand Banu Begum, daughter of a Persian noble and niece of Empress Nur Jahan, fell in love in 1607 and married a few years later. He had other wives, but Arjumand was the only love match and his enduring favourite. He nicknamed her “Mumtaz Mahal,” or “the jewel (or exalted one) of the palace.” He relied on her political advice and she was his constant companion and confidant. Unfortunately, Mumtaz Mahal died at age 38, due to complications from giving birth to her 14th child. Heartbroken, her husband spent the next two decades building her a beautiful mausoleum, and nearly 400 years later, people are still awed by the Taj Mahal.
Infante Pedro and Ines de Castro
When the heir to the Portuguese throne fell in love with his wife’s older, widowed Lady-in-Waiting, the couple wasn’t exactly embraced by the family. Pedro’s father, King Alfonso IV, had Ines banished to Spain in an attempt to dissuade his son, but Pedro found a way to send letters and visit her as often as he could. After his wife died, Pedro brought Ines back and lived with her openly, even having three children together. When he asked his father to accept Ines as his new wife, the King had her brutally executed instead. In retaliation Pedro started a Civil War in an attempt to overthrow his father. The war ended after two years when the Queen, Pedro’s mother, arranged a truce, but he never forgave his father. When he eventually became King, he had Ines’s assassins executed by tearing their hearts out. It’s also rumoured that he had Ines’s body exhumed and placed on the throne, where he forced the court to swear allegiance to the new Queen.
Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning
Elizabeth Barrett was an accomplished poet in 1844 when Robert Browning wrote an admiring letter, telling her “I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett.” Perhaps unsurprisingly they continued writing each other, and eventually met and fell in love. Knowing her father would disapprove, Elizabeth kept the relationship secret and she and Robert eloped (her father refused to reconcile with her and eventually disinherited her). The Brownings lived mainly in Italy, and spent their time among writers and artists. One of Elizabeth’s most well-known and beloved works, “Sonnets from the Portuguese,” consists of love poems she wrote for Robert, which he insisted she had to publish because they were “the finest sonnets written in any language since Shakespeare’s.” Their hundreds of letters to each other also attest to the incredible love between them. Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s lifelong poor health, which had improved for a while, started to deteriorate after only a few years together. She died in her husband’s arms in 1861, at age 55. Browning returned to England and never remarried.
Henry II and Rosamund Clifford
Legend has it that King Henry II of England built a complicated maze, at the centre of which he hid his lover Rosamund, in order to keep the affair hidden from his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. The Queen, however, solved the maze and found Rosamund, giving her the option of death by dagger or poison. Rosamund supposedly chose the latter. Another version has Eleanor stabbing Rosamund while she bathed. Although these stories are false, there is, according to historian Mike Ibeji, ” … no doubt that the great love of his [Henry’s] life was Rosamund Clifford.” It’s unknown when Henry and Rosamund’s relationship started, but it became common knowledge in 1174, after his relationship with the Queen soured due to her rebelling against him, along with their sons. While Queen Eleanor was imprisoned, Rosamund moved into the royal palace of Woodstock. It’s said that Henry was so enamoured of Rosamund that he lost interest in all his other mistresses (of which there were many). Although it’s unknown if Rosamund returned Henry’s feelings (you don’t say no to the King), she was blamed for being a temptress and an adulteress, and her character was attacked long after her death. This may be why she ended the affair with the King in 1175 or 1176, withdrawing to Godstow Abbey, where she died shortly afterwards. Henry paid for a lavish tomb for Rosamund, arranging for nuns to leave daily floral tributes to her, as well as paying to keep the site maintained. Although the tomb was eventually destroyed, the story of “Fair Rosamund” has inspired countless poets and artists through the centuries, giving immortality to Henry and Rosamund’s brief time together.
Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict
Although married three times to men, Margaret Mead’s “most intense and enduring relationship” was with her mentor Ruth Benedict. Mead’s letters, spanning a quarter of a century until Benedict’s sudden death in 1948, are filled with terms of endearment and plaintive longing. Margaret claims that Ruth’s love gives her strength and laments that they can’t be together. The two, worried about how a public relationship would affect their careers (already difficult for women at the time), worked hard to keep their feelings secret, and even made sure never to be photographed together. It’s only relatively recently that Margaret’s daughter has hinted at the sexual nature of Mead and Benedict’s relationship, and that Mead’s letters have been released for publication. Had it not been for the hostile social climate and legal system that existed back then, Margaret and Ruth could have had a life together. Instead they squeezed in moments with each other around marriages, family life, and work. Margaret and Ruth loved each other as fully as they could, while being deprived of what could have been.
No matter what your plans are, or who you’re spending it with, I hope you have a happy Valentine’s Day ♥ What’s your favourite bittersweet love story? Share in the comments.
Looking for a good fictional story instead? Get my books!
If you prefer a paperback to an ebook, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥
I’ve never had a proper attic anywhere I lived, the kind where it’s a large, open space with a high, sloping ceiling and at least one window (in newer buildings “attics” tend to be windowless crawlspaces full of insulation). But I was always fascinated by these spaces. The ones I’d see on TV always seemed mysterious, full of treasures (and dust), maybe a little creepy. I didn’t really start coveting an attic of my own until I realized they could be renovated. The potential seems unlimited for these private bonus spaces, something these attic owners clearly got. Here are some of my favourite attic libraries, as found around the internet….
I love the floor, as well as the shelves reaching the ceiling. It also looks like there’s plenty of good light for settling in with one of those books.
2. With stained glass windows and a cozy place to sit, I can picture myself here with a good book and a cup of tea.
3. This goes to show that no space is too small to turn into something great. As long as you can fit a comfy chair, a bookcase, and some lighting, you have a library.
4. Though it’s a little dark, I love this attic library. It looks like a room you could happily live in (or at least, I could).
5. Lots of good light, piles of books, cushy floor pillows, and a cup of coffee or tea. What’s not to love?
6. Not as many books as there could be, but this is a cozy, elegant library. The ladder is a nice touch too.
7. This is such a fun, bright space. There’s also good lighting, an excellent choice of seating, ample shelves, and a chandelier. When can I move in?
8. This looks like a nice room in which to sit, read, and ignore the world. The window over the couch must offer some great lighting too. I’d love to be here on a rainy day.
9. I wish I could have found a better photo because I love this library. The red walls, the woodwork, and the Gothic-arch-esque shape around the window give it a Harry Potter feel. I imagine this is what a castle attic would be like.
10. If I’d had this library during the pandemic, I think lockdown would have been a lot more pleasant. Even without a pandemic, I think it would take a lot to get me to ever leave.
Bonus Library: Apparently this is a still from the movie Knives Out. I haven’t seen it, but kudos to the set designer– this is probably the perfect attic library. Books, art, cozy seating, great architecture, and a desk and computer. This is the room library lovers’ dreams are made of.
Which attic library was your favourite? Are you lucky enough to have one of your own? Share in the comments…
Looking for something to read in your (real or imagined) attic library? I’ve got you covered…
If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥
One of my longtime dreams was to visit the lavender fields of Provence. In my mind, nothing could be more romantic; it was like a fairytale you could experience, something magical. And in 2015 I was lucky enough to finally be able to go. With surreal blue skies, cypress trees, castles, hills, Roman structures (some still in use so they can’t be called ruins), and, of course, lavender fields, Provence really is magical. When I was there my guide (Elodie of Provence Authentic) told me the fields are disappearing as farmers replace them with more profitable grapevines, which would be like Paris taking down the Eiffel tower to put up highrises. If you ever have a chance to visit the Luberon, the region where these fields were located, take it– while the lavender, and so much of the magic, is still there.
By the way, the smell was incredible. Forget whatever you think lavender smells like– there’s nothing like an entire sun-warmed field of these flowers.
In the next photo, you can just make out a castle on the hill in the background. Apparently it once belonged to the Marquis de Sade. When I was there it was owned by designer Pierre Cardin, who was raising money to restore it. I wonder how that went…
Some local wildlife…
Have you visited any lavender fields, in France or anywhere else? Share in the comments…
Want to read more about France? Download my FREE story Tooth & Claw, set in early 1900s Marseille, and inspired by actual events (there aren’t any lavender fields, but there are vampires.)