Like low-fi reality TV, you can create an entire trip around visiting many of the world’s most gifted wordsmiths’ abodes. Many of these homes and the life that ensued within its four walls are featured in their novels—such as Thomas Wolfe’s “Homeward Angel” or James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” Considering Playboy’s long standing history with publishing the works of famous authors from all genres, it goes without saying we kind of have a thing for the world’s greatest writers.
So, prop up your feet, and get comfortable for some armchair travel. Today’s agenda? Coolest digs of iconic authors.
CHARLES DICKENS MUSEUM
Beyond showcasing handwritten drafts of Dickens’ classics like Oliver Twist, the home-turned-museum recreates a slice of the author’s life—like you dropped by moments before Dickens stepped out. The museum also features rotating exhibits, live performances and candlelit evenings.
Key West, Florida
This stunning Key West home became Ernest Hemingway’s abode in 1931, and much of the furniture that he and his family used is still featured. The gardens is probably one of the best features of the property.
THE STEINBECK HOUSE
Not only can you visit John Steinbeck’s birthplace and childhood home, but you can also sit down in his dining room and enjoy his favorite meals, such as pork posole. The restored house serves as a restaurant and is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, as well as for a monthly Friday dinner and Saturday high tea. For those interested in more Steinbeck lore, the National Steinbeck Center is located two blocks away.
THE MARK TWAIN HOUSE AND MUSEUM
Mark Twain and his wife Livy built this home shortly after marrying, and lived there for 17 years. It was where he wrote his iconic works The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In addition to numerous exhibits, the house and museum feature ghost tours and book readings.
ABBOTSFORD HOUSE (HOME OF SIR WALTER SCOTT)
Built in the early 19th century, Sir Walter Scott’s expansive house has been open to the public since 1833, just five months after his death. His 1,400 acre estate features a series of gardens, and showcases Scott’s passion for trees and landscaping. The architecture and grounds are just as stunning as his most famous literary works, such as The Lady of the Lake, Waverley, Ivanhoe and Rob Roy. Abbotsford offers both lodging and dining for guests, as well.
MUSEUM AND ESTATE OF LEO TOLSTOY
Tula Oblast, Russia
Leo Tolstoy’s house where he was born, and wrote War and Peace and Anna Karenina, has been a museum since 1921. Today, it’s still run by Tolstoy’s descendants. Yasnaya Polyana features a hotel and dining options and even Russian language classes.
MONK’S HOUSE (VIRGINIA WOOLF’S SUMMER RETREAT)
East Sussex, England
Her home from 1919 until her tragic suicide in 1941, the 17th-century cottage was where Virginia Woolf penned novels such as To the Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway. Plenty of items remain from their life here, as well as Virginia’s famous writing lodge—a hidden retreat in the garden where she spent much of her summer days and nights.
THE MOUNT (HOME OF EDITH WHARTON)
For interior design and landscaping geeks, Edith Wharton’s 1902 estate is like Disneyland. Even if you’ve never heard of the first woman ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (The Age of Innocence), the 113-acre grounds and palatial home are worth dedicating aday to explore. Wharton was an influential figure in early-20th-century residential design. Interior home tours start again in May.
THE THOMAS WOLFE MEMORIAL HOUSE
Asheville, North Carolina
Make sure to get a docent led tour of the boarding house that Wolfe grew up in. They are Wolfe historians and really bring to life the author’s fascinating (and somewhat scandalous) journey. Much of his and his family’s belongings are still in the house. His mother’s presence (Eliza in Homeward Bound, Julia in real life) in the home is still very palpable—even more than a half-century after her death. For an Insta-worthy pic, pose in one of the many rocking chairs on the porch.
ROWAN OAK (WILLIAM FAULKNER’S HOME)
His dwelling for over three decades, this 1840s Greek Revival home was where the Nobel Prize laureate wrote many works—including Light in August. When he wasn’t writing, he was doing DIY projects around the property. In the study, look for his plot notes for A Fable scribbled in pencil on the wall.
Have Nihilist tendencies? Head to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s summer retreat to explore one of the world’s largest libraries dedicated to the philosopher and his writings.
MAISON DE BALZAC
For the literary buff, it’s worth taking a break from stuffing your face with chocolates, croissants and cheese to pop into the former residence of the famed French novelist Honoré de Balzac. Allegedly, from 1840 to 1847, he worked on The Human Comedy and other masterpieces in this modest abode.