On the occasion of International Book Lovers Day, we take you on a tour of the homes of some of the most revered authors and novelists of our times. Bookmark these places for a visit the next time you’re in town. By Shikha Pushpan
- Rabindranath Tagore, Jorasanko Thakur Bari, Kolkata, India
You do not have to be a bookworm to admire this place. Located in a quite corner of north Kolkata, Jorasanko Thakur Bari is the ancestral home of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Built in the 18th century, the bungalow was home to several generations of the Tagore family until it was converted into a museum as part of the Rabindranath Bharati University. Exceptionally well-preserved, the bungalow gives an insight into the finer details of Tagore’s life and the family’s involvement in the Bengal Renaissance and Brahmo Samaj. The hall where Tagore practiced theatre arts and the bedroom where he breathed his last will give you goosebumps!
2. The Mark Twain House & Museum, Connecticut, US
One of the tallest names in English literature, Mark Twain lived close to his publisher’s place with wife, Olivia Clemens in Hartford, Connecticut, US. Built in 1874, the Mark Twain House & Museum is a vivid example of Victorian-high Gothic style, and has been described as ‘part steamboat, part medieval fortress and part cuckoo clock’. This is where the writer penned some of his best works, including Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of the Huckleberry Finn. The place is open to only guided tours restricted to 14 people.
One of America’s greatest poets, Emily Dickinson was born in a prominent family in Amherst, Massachusetts. A Federal-style bungalow built in the 1830s, this is where Dickinson was confined to for most of her life from her 30s. Today, the poet’s bedroom, or the ‘mighty room’ as she would describe in many of her works, is rent out to budding writers. The place is much sought after for the replica of the 18″ wide tiny desk on which she penned her poems. (The original desk resides at Harvard).
4. Gabriel Garcia Marquez House Museum, Colombia
The legendary Colombian novelist was born in the small river town of Aracataca, where the family moved back in 1910. Though the original home of the Garcia Marquez family was knocked down a few decades ago, it was faithfully recreated in 2010 and filled with the author’s memorabilia. The house is worshipped by literature nazis today and bears panels (in Spanish) that describe various scenes from Gabo’s work that were set there.
Considered one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the 20th century, Virginia Wolf lived at a modest, 17th-century cottage, called Monk’s House, in East Sussex, England with husband Leonard Wolf. It is believed that the couple bought the house in 1919 after they fell in love with the ‘shape and fertility and wildness of the garden’. Wolf’s writing lodge was tucked in a corner of this garden, where visitors can now spend a night. The place is taken care of by the National Trust and houses the couple’s collection of furniture, books, art.
Put in Agatha Christie’s own words, the Greenway House is “a white Georgian house of about 1780 or 90, with woods sweeping down to the Dart below, and a lot of fine shrubs and trees.” This, she said was “the ideal house, the dream house.” Born in Torquay, England, Christie bought the Greenway House in Devon in 1938 when she had established herself as a prominent literary icon. Though this house was not the primary residence of the author, this is the place where she spent her Christmas and Easter with children and grandchildren until she died in 1976. The place also formed the setting for a number of her stories.
Though not the official residence of the young Jewish diarist Anne Frank, this 17th-century canal house in central Amsterdam formed the setting for her famed diary entries about World War II. Referred to as the Secret Annex in her notes, this is where Frank and her family hid from Nazi persecution. Today, the Anne Frank Foundation has carefully preserved the hiding place and hosts a permanent exhibition on the life and times of the young writer. The Anne Frank House is one of the most visited museums in Netherlands.