A short time ago, my colleagues and I were talking about Stephen King. After sharing a funny anecdote about his not being recognized and treated as a vagrant crashing a convention, we came to the conclusion that there are two types of wealthy person: those who flaunt it, and those who cultivate the penniless artist trope despite their bank accounts in the millions of dollars.
“Have you ever seen pictures of Stephen King’s house?” my colleague asked. I had not, but imagined him living in a grand old Victorian or civil war house somewhere in Maine (thanks Steve for singlehandedly putting that tiny state on the map). Sometimes you just know from an author’s writing how their home would be.
And so I give you Lifestyles of the Rich and Literate, a peep into the homes and libraries of prominent authors — the spooky edition!
This colonial New England home is exactly what you’d expect from the king of creepy. The wrought iron fence that surrounds the property was built by Terry Steel of Steel Forge, Bridgton and took two years to complete. The bats and hydras really give that extra macabre feel to an otherwise typical home of the mid 19th century.
Ms. Rice clearly likes her environment warm and sunny. From New Orleans to the Gulf Coast to La Jolla, this is the sole consistency in her homes.
New Orleans plantation home
When I think of Anne Rice, I always first remember the quirky, very strange character from the 90s when she was riding the wave of Vampire Chronicle fame around the time Interview With the Vampire came out (1994). This home perfectly evokes the feelings of those novels: the Spanish moss, the twisted trees, the neo-Doric columns… This is my dream house.
La Jolla, California
Bought around the time that she parted from gothic storytelling and became a born again Christian, her home in La Jolla shares none of the personality of her New Orleans home. The kitchen is the sole connection, with its oak counters and cabinets and oversized armchairs for barstools. If homes are an extension of the inner psyche, it is clear that Anne turned a full 180 and marched straight away from her horror past.
Navarre Beach, Florida condo
Retiring to Florida is what seniors have been doing for decades now, and Rice is getting up there now (though you’d never know it, the energy that exudes from her hides her 71 years well). While the home is nowhere near so mysterious as her Louisiana house, the decor in the Florida condo has a much more distinguished, classic air to it than the Ranch. Rice has been posting for a number of months about her desire to return to New Orleans and get back to her roots. Any connection to her emancipation from Christianity and organized religion?
Neil Gaiman is probably one of the most forthcoming authors I know, and posts lots of personal pictures on his blog. The rustic natural wood of his Cambridge, MA home really gives it a cabin-in-the-woods feel, while from outside it is fairly similar to Stephen King’s house. I don’t think there’s any other author for whom I have more library envy! It just looks like the kind of basement where you could curl up for hours, with a dog at your feet and a cat on your lap. I totally love his gazebo office, and I’m adding that to the master plan of my dream house.
You can take a virtual tour of his library here. Be warned: if you spin through it too quickly, you’ll soon find yourself in a warped world that could have been created by Dave McKean (coincidence? I think not!)
She has great taste in houses, I must say. From her childhood cottage with the garden that just screams “Here Be Faeries” to her Hogwartsesque mega-mansion, J.K. Rowling has never lost the touch of English fantasy, even with her switch to adult fiction.
Church Cottage in Tutshill, Gloucestershire
When I sometimes imagine myself living in a quaint English cottage, J.K. Rowling’s childhood home is the exact image I come up with. The overgrown bushes and ivy, the stone brick, and the earth path all conjure up the most wonderful fantastic ideas. Sold to an unknown buyer in 2011 for £399,950, the house includes a secret trapdoor in the dining room and, famously, a cupboard under the stairs. One wonders if this was one of Rowling’s play areas as a child?
Flat in Edinburgh, ca. 1993
It’s a pretty common notion that Rowling was homeless and living out of her car at the time she began writing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. While this is merely rumour, the truth of her living arrangements was only slightly better, as a single mother relying on social assistance in a tiny flat in Edinburgh.
Following the success of the first Harry Potter book, Rowling soon moved to is her £2.25M house in Edinburgh, where she wrote the remaining books in the series. The eight-room mansion was put on the market last autumn and sold for an undisclosed amount, but I personally don’t think the renovations inside reflect the Victorian architecture of the exterior.You can see a full selection of images here.
Killiechassie House in Aberfeldy, Scotland
Now richer than the Queen of England, Rowling fully embraces the Hogwarts life in a 19th century estate home. Word has it that nearby Loch Tay is haunted by a water spirit. As if the property weren’t cool enough already, Rowling has contructed a series of castle-like treehouses, to the chagrin of her neighbours who complain the rooftops are visible through the treeline and ruin the rural view.
Are there any authors who you think would make in interesting selection for the next installment? Let me know!