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World Book Day: Homes with literary connections

This property was once the home of George Orwell.
This property was once the home of George Orwell. Photo: Knight Frank (Knight Frank)

This year, it’s World Book Day on 2nd March so, what better excuse is there to have a nose around the houses currently for sale with literary connections?

From Charles Dickens’ summer London residence and the Norfolk hall that inspired Virginia Woolf while she stayed there, to George Orwell’s childhood home and the Marylebone mansion block that boasts, not one, but two famous authors, check out the places that Britain’s most renowned authors have called ‘home’ (not to mention their price tags!)

Blo Norton Hall, Diss, Norfolk, £2.6m

Hall Lane
Blo Norton Hall once played host to Virginia Woolf. Photo: Savills (Savills)

Grade II* listed Elizabethan country house Blo Norton Hall has an illustrious history. In 1906, Virginia Woolf came to stay here, and it inspired her to write the short story, The Journal of Miss Joan Martyn, which features an historian researching England’s land tenure history. Also in 1906, Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, son of Sir Duleep Singh, the last maharaja of the Sikh Empire, rented the hall and continued living here for the next 20 years of his life. Today, the house boasts numerous period features, including stained glass, original panelling, large open fireplaces and wooden flooring. It sits within 75 acres of land and has a moat, tennis court and informal and formal gardens, all ready and waiting for its new inhabitants to enjoy. For more information contact Savills.

Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, £1.4m

George Orwell once lived at this illustrious property.
George Orwell once lived at this illustrious property. Photo: Knight Frank (Knight Frank)

This relatively unimposing Edwardian property in Lower Shiplake, Henley-on-Thames, was once the childhood home of author George Orwell. A world away from his dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Rose Lawn is a pleasant, four-bedroom house with an oak-panelled hall, bay windows and two balconies. It also has a pretty rear garden with a paved terrace and lawn, bordered with laurel and conifer hedges. For more information contact Knight Frank.

Hanover Terrace, NW1, London, £22.5m

Hanover Terrace
Hanover Terrace in London was once rented by Charles Dickens. Photo: Knight Frank (Knight Frank)

This incredible seven-bedroom house on London's Hanover Terrace was once rented by the legendary Charles Dickens and his family for the summer social season. It’s easy to see why the property caught Dickens’ eye: it has uninterrupted views across Regent’s Park and the boating lake, and a south-west facing garden. As you’d expect, it’s been considerably updated since Victorian times and now comes with a hi-tech kitchen, sauna, gym and marbled bathrooms, as well as a separate mews house and garage and self-contained one-bedroom apartment. Definitely one for someone in the midst of ‘the best of times’. For more information contact Knight Frank.

Heathview Gardens, Putney, London, £8.65m

Sir Ernest Shackleton once lived here.
Sir Ernest Shackleton once lived here. Photo: Savills (Mike Horton/Savills)

This smart period property was previously home to the explorer and author Sir Ernest Shackleton, famous for his expeditions to the Antarctic and the highly acclaimed expedition account, Heart of the Antarctic. This nine-bedroom house is about as far away from the South Pole as you can get, with a swimming pool and pool house, large wine cellar, billiard room, staff accommodation and substantial gardens. Why would you ever want to leave? For more information contact Savills.

Chiltern Court, Marylebone, London, £1.3m

Chiltern Court in central London
HG Wells, Arnold Bennett and Sir David Low have all called Chiltern Court home. Photo: Marsh & Parsons (Marsh & Parsons)

The prestigious Chiltern Court mansion block near Baker Street Tube station has been home to several famous writers, including HG Wells and Arnold Bennett, as well as political cartoonist and caricaturist Sir David Low. The three-bedroom flat currently for sale is on the fifth floor and is flooded with natural light. It has an eat-in kitchen and wooden floors throughout, while the block itself offers a 24-hour porter, a lift and excellent security. It’s also a very short distance to the boutiques and restaurants of Marylebone Village. For more information contact Marsh & Parsons.

Merry Hall, Ashtead, Surrey, £2.95m

Merry House
Merry House, former home of author Beverley Nichols. Photo: Strutt & Parker

The happily named Merry Hall is an elegant Georgian country house that was once the home of prolific playwright and writer Beverley Nichols. It has both character features, with period fireplaces, antique radiators, high ceilings and original windows, along with modern conveniences like a kitchen/breakfast room, Jack and-Jill shower room and light-filled conservatory. With an epic 10 bedrooms, there’s plenty of space, whether you plan to entertain guests or find a quiet spot to write your own novel. For more information contact Strutt & Parker.

Tusculum Villa, Sevenoaks, Kent, £1.25m

Tusculum Villas
Tusculum Villa: your own personal time machine. Photo: Jackson-Stops

Tusculum Villa is a semi-detached, Victorian house, conveniently located for Sevenoaks station and town centre. Perhaps that’s why author HG Wells chose it in 1894 while he wrote his post-apocalyptic science fiction novella, The Time Machine. The setting for his writing couldn’t be further from the setting of his book, as this four-bedroom house has a peaceful feel with high ceilings, ornate coving, sash windows and bright bay windows. Outside is just as lovely with a terrace whose steps lead down to a garden, laid to lawn. For more information contact Jackson-Stops.

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