The Writing on the Walls: Authors' Former Homes

Summer reading: First it was required by your grade school English teacher to keep you from forgetting everything you learned during the academic year.

But later on in life, reading at the beach or by the pool became a sublimely guilty pleasure, a ritual pastime spurred by literary supplements aimed at helping you pick the perfect romance, thriller or nonfiction masterpiece.

In honor of whatever reading material you choose for your next beach read -- be it by old-fashioned bound book or electronic download -- we're showcasing the homes of a few famous authors, who took inspiration inside these walls to create some of the summer reading list picks.

Famous Authors' Houses
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The Writing on the Walls: Authors' Former Homes

70 Willow St, Brooklyn. N.Y.
Recently sold: $12.5 million

This yellow Brooklyn townhouse was reportedly where author Truman Capote wrote his most famous work, “In Cold Blood.” The five-story Greek-Revival home was built in 1839 and was home to Capote from 1955 to 1965. Capote never owned the home but rented the garden-level apartment while he penned other books, such as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “A House on the Heights.”

The townhouse first hit the market in May 2010 for a whopping $18 million asking price, before dropping to $15.9 million. It sold for $12.5 million in March 2012.

142 Columbia Heights Apt. 4, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Off the market

Like Truman Capote, Norman Mailer was a part of a group of writers considered to be the innovators behind creative nonfiction, or “New Journalism.” Like Capote, Mailer also called Brooklyn home. The author and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner (“The Executioner’s Song” and “The Armies of the Night”) designed his Brooklyn Heights home in the 1960s to be reminiscent of a ship.

280 Nassau St., Princeton, N.J.
Recently sold: $1,495,000

Perfect for any aspiring writer, Toni Morrison’s longtime Princeton home is filled with nooks, dens, parlors and other places perfect for a desk and inspiration. Morrison, a Pulitzer Prize winner, purchased the house in 2003 while teaching at Princeton University.

Built in 1880 and boasting an impressive seven gables, the home sits on a large corner lot less than a mile from the Princeton University campus and less than an hour’s drive to New York City. Morrison listed the home on the Princeton real estate market for $1.795 million in July 2011, and it sold for $300,000 less in November 2011.

600 N. Kenilworth Ave., Oak Park, Ill.
Pending sale: $525,000

Ernest Hemingway’s childhood home was where the author honed his craft as a writer. Built in 1906 with input from Hemingway’s mother, the house was once slated to become a cultural center. Unfortunately, the plans to convert the home were drawn up amid the recession in 2009, meaning that the anticipated funding didn’t come through. The home was placed on the Oak Park real estate market in February 2012 and is currently listed as a pending sale.

70305 Thunderbird Road, Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Recently sold: $2.3 million

Although she made her money writing about vampires and Gothic tales from New Orleans, author Anne Rice’s former home in Rancho Mirage is anything but dark. The enormous and private home sits on more than an acre, surrounded by valley views and landscaped grounds. The six-bedroom, nine-bath home was first placed on the market in 2010 for $3.3 million and, after a series of price cuts, sold in May 2012 for a $1 million less.

33 W. 67th St. #3RE, New York, N.Y.
Recently sold: $708,000

The New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben bought this small one-bedroom apartment in 2007 for $690,000. The 700-square-foot cooperative features dark wood-paneled walls, oak doors and an enormous picture window looking out to the Upper West Side neighborhood. Coben is the author of thrillers such as “Tell No One,” “The Woods” and “Long Lost.” The apartment is part of a historic building, The Atelier, which has been a home for artists since its 1904 construction.

464 N. Myrtle Ave., Monrovia, Calif.
Off the market

Not only is this Spanish Colonial the former home of Upton Sinclair, but it’s also listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Built in 1923, the stucco home was designed by noted California architect Frederick H. Wallis and was the home of Sinclair from 1942 to 1966. Best known for his novel “The Jungle,” which exposed the conditions in the U.S. meatpacking industry, Sinclair wrote nearly 100 books and was also a one-time candidate for California governor.

The four-bedroom, two-bath home recently sold in June 2011 for $1.195 million after it was initially listed on the Monrovia real estate market for $1.5 million in February 2011.


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