Do you love literature? Visit one of these famous writers’ homes in the UK, step into their world of inspiration and acquire your own. From Rudyard Kipling’s study to the birthplace of Shakespeare, these are the most famous writers’ homes you can visit in the UK.
12 Famous Writers’ Homes You Can Visit in the UK
This grand house was once the home of Rudyard Kipling, author of infamous titles such as ‘The Jungle Book’, and poems such as ‘Mandalay’ and ‘Gunga Din’. Unwind in the Mulberry tea room after soaking up the vast history of Bateman’s, where Kipling wrote Puck of Pook’s Hill’ in 1906, inspired by the rolling hills behind the house.
From Romantic Poet Lord Byron through Medieval, Victorian and Gothic Revival, Newstead Abbey is a treasure trove of the rare, beautiful and historically significant. Boasting 300 acres of parkland, visitors can explore the gardens, lake and beautiful estate. Newstead Abbey features a collection of items that span the centuries, from when Newstead first became a private house, right up to the present day. Visitors can linger over displays and reading material in the Gothic Revival Library, or marvel at the expansive panelling in the Great Hall, all reputed to have come from a single oak tree. Newstead’s 300 acres of parkland owes much of its beauty to the River Leen feeding the lakes, ponds and cascades that ornament its gardens. The grounds provide the perfect place for a relaxing outing year-round, with fabulous wildlife including peacocks, swan and geese.
Max Gate, an austere but sophisticated townhouse, a short walk from the town centre of Dorchester, was the home of Dorset’s most famous author and poet Thomas Hardy. Hardy, who designed the house in 1885, wanted to show that he was part of the wealthy middle classes of the area, to reflect his position as a successful writer, and to enable him to enter polite society. The house was named after a nearby tollgate keeper called Mack. You will find the garden much as it was originally planned, with high walls and large trees encircling the property to preserve Hardy’s privacy. The sundial, designed by Hardy, was erected in his memory.
Few authors have such strong associations with the natural and cultural heritage of their local area as Thomas Hardy. This cottage, where Hardy was born in 1840, was built of cob and thatch by his great-grandfather and has been little altered since the family left. Despite training as an architect, writing was Hardy’s first love, and it was from here that he wrote several of his early short stories, poetry and novels including ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ and ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’.
Nestled in the heart of rural Sussex, Monk’s House is a tranquil 17th-century weatherboarded cottage inhabited by Leonard and the novelist Virginia Woolf from 1919 until Leonard’s death in 1969. Get to know Leonard and Virginia Woolf and the wider Bloomsbury Group by visiting Monk’s House. Full of their favourite things, the house appears as if they just stepped out for a walk. The Woolfs bought Monk’s House for the ‘shape and fertility and wildness of the garden’. Today, the lovely cottage garden contains a mix of flowers, vegetables, orchards, lawns and ponds.
William Shakespeare was born in this house and grew up here with his parents and siblings. He also spent the first five years of his marriage living here with his wife Anne Hathaway. John and Mary Shakespeare were wealthy enough to own the largest house on Henley Street. John Shakespeare lived and worked in this house for fifty years. When he married Mary Arden she came to live with him and they had a total of eight children. William was the third to be born. In 1568 John became the Mayor of Stratford, which was the highest elective office in the town. It was because of his father’s status as Mayor that William was privileged enough to have attended the local grammar school to begin his education.
At the beloved holiday home of the famous and much-loved author Agatha Christie and her family you can take a glimpse into their lives. This relaxed and atmospheric house is set in the 1950s, when Agatha and her family would spend summers and Christmases here with friends, relaxing by the river, playing croquet and clock golf, and reading her latest mystery to their guests. The family were great collectors, and the house is filled with archaeology, Tunbridgeware, silver, botanical china and books. In the garden a large and romantic woodland drifts down the hillside towards the sparkling Dart estuary. The walled gardens are home to a restored peach house and vinery, as well as an allotment cared for by local school children. A visit to Greenway isn’t complete without seeing the Boathouse, scene of the crime in ‘Dead Man’s Folly’, and the battery complete with cannon.
It was here that Jane’s genius flourished and where she wrote, revised and had published all her major works: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Jane lived at what is now Jane Austen’s House Museum for the last eight years of her life. She moved here in 1809 with her mother, sister Cassandra and friend Martha Lloyd after a period spent living in lodgings. The Museum holds an important collection of objects associated with Jane Austen, including letters written by Jane and personal effects belonging to her and her family. Particular highlights include her jewellery, first editions of her books, furniture, textiles and the table at which she wrote her much loved novels.
Enjoy the tale of Beatrix Potter by visiting Hill Top. Full of her favourite things, every room contains a reference to a picture in a ‘tale’. The lovely cottage garden is a haphazard mix of flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables. Make your way up the garden path to the front door and see for yourself why Beatrix loved this place. Bought in 1905 with proceeds from her first book, the Tale of Peter Rabbit, she used Hill Top itself and the surrounding countryside as inspiration for many of her subsequent books. Read our guide to Walking in the Footsteps of Beatrix Potter in the Lake District
Even if the poet, writer and broadcaster Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) hadn’t lived at the Boathouse in Laugharne for the last four years of his tragically short life, it is a truly remarkable place to visit. The Boathouse terrace offers wonderful views of the Taf estuary and the Gower beyond – a haven for egrets, lapwings, herons, oystercatchers, seals and otters with fishermen and cocklers continuing the ancient traditions. Thomas worked in the Writing Shed above the Boathouse, with its remarkable and inspiring views of four estuaries. The first poem he wrote there was ‘Over Sir John’s Hill’, in which he describes the view from the shed, writing of birds stalking their prey and bringing death in the midst of this beauty.
In 1799, William Wordsworth fell in love with Dove Cottage and Grasmere whilst on a walking tour of the Lake District. Within a few months, he had set up home here in the hamlet of Town End with his sister Dorothy. It was whilst living here that Wordsworth produced the most famous and best-loved of his poems and Dorothy wrote her fascinating Grasmere journal. An entertaining guided tour of Dove Cottage gives a vivid impression of what day-to-day life would have been like for Wordsworth and his family. This traditional Lakeland cottage, still filled with the Wordsworths’ personal possessions and warmed by glowing coal fires, creates an atmosphere that William and Dorothy would recognise as the place where they spent many years of ‘plain living and high thinking’.
‘My room was really beautiful in some lights, moonlight especially’, Charlotte Brontë said. The Brontë Parsonage Museum library contains the world’s most comprehensive collection of Brontë manuscripts, letters, early editions of the novels and poetry, and secondary material on the famous family and their work.