When you see the places where iconic authors wrote their most famous works, it's hard not to look for the details that could have inspired the enchanting worlds they created. From the magical-looking garden of Narnia author C.S. Lewis, to Louisa May Alcott's house where she based Little Women, take a tour of these famous literary homes.
Arthur Conan Doyle
Undershaw in Surrey, England was the home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of super-sleuth detective Sherlock Holmes. He commissioned it to be built in 1897, having picked the spot for the renowned health benefits of the Surrey air, and "its height, its dryness, its sandy soil, its fir trees, and its shelter from all bitter winds"—all which he hoped would alleviate his wife's suffering from tuberculosis. It was here that he wrote Hound of the Baskervilles and entertained other famous authors such as Bram Stoker, J.M. Barrie and Virginia Woolf. It has now been restored as a school for children with hemiplegia, physical, medical, anxiety, and autistic spectrum difficulties.
C. S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis's Oxford house, known as The Kilns, was where he wrote his series of Narnia books, and indeed the nature and woodlands and 8-acre garden that surrounded the house back in 1922 was much of the inspiration for the magical land through the wardrobe. It's also said that the house's gardener inspired the character of Puddleglum the Marshwiggle in The Silver Chair. It was here that Lewis married American writer Joy Davidman and where he spent the last 33 years of his life with his brother Warnie. The Kilns is now home to a study center run by the C.S. Lewis Foundation, although the surrounding garden is much reduced after plots of land were sold off after the author's death.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
The author and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe lived in this house in Brunswick, Maine for two years when her husband was hired as a professor at nearby Bowdoin College. It was here that she wrote her anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, which depicts the harsh conditions of slavery. The idea for the novel came to her when she was sitting in a pew at the nearby First Parish Church where she suddenly had a vision of a beaten slave that went on to inspire her titular character. Uncle Tom's Cabin became the best selling novel of the 19th century and was highly influential in the anti-slavery movement. Stowe only lived in this house for 2 years, but remarked that they were the happiest and healthiest of her life.
Gabriel García Márquez
The Colombian-born writer Gabriel García Márquez spent time in Cuba, New York and Spain before moving to Mexico City in 1961. Here he wrote the widely-acclaimed One Hundred Years of Solitude, a multi-generational story centering around the Buendía family, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. Known affectionately throughout Latin America as "Gabo", Márquez is credited with popularizing the style of magic realism, which uses magical elements in otherwise realistic situations. The house below was the author's final home in Mexico City, and is where legions of fans gathered to mourn South America's most prolific writer after his death in 2014.
Louise May Alcott
Orchard House in Massachussets was the family home of Louise May Alcott from 1858 to 1877, and provided the setting for her famed novel Little Women about the transition from childhood to adulthood of the four March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. The book was loosely based on the earlier years of herself and her own three sisters. Alcott wrote the novel in her bedroom at this house on a shelf desk her father built for her, with its first printing of 2,000 copies selling out rapidly. The house is now a museum about Alcott and her family, which focuses on the importance of education.
The American poet Sylvia Plath lived at this pastel-pink house in Primrose Hill, London, from January 1960 until August 1961. She lived here with her husband, the British poet Ted Hughes, in a three-room flat on the top floor where she wrote her only novel, The Bell Jar and had her first volume of poetry, The Colossus published. Later, she moved to a different house nearby, the old home of the poet WB Yeats, where she took her own life at the age of 30. In 2000 a commemorative blue English Heritage plaque was installed at her former home. When asked why it was not installed at her most recent house in London, her daughter remarked: "My mother died there … but she had lived here.”
Built in 1869, this Italianate-style brownstone in Harlem, New York was where poet, playwright and social activist Langston Hughes had a workroom from 1947 to 1967. Hughes occupied the top-floor two room suite, while his adopted uncle William Emerson Harper and his wife lived below. Hughes used the apartment as a base in-between his travels, and produced some of his most celebrated work there, including an autobiography, a book-length poem, lyrics and newspaper columns. Hughes also kept a 6-square-foot garden near the steps that he called "Our Block's Children's Garden", where the neighborhood children helped him water the plants. It's now a designated New York landmark site.