There must be something about these five properties that inspired literary figures to write or, in the case of our French house, read, very well. Literary cachet can add to the monetary value of a house, depending on the relevant author’s reputation, and certainly offers a talking point: informing a guest that Shakespeare once sat in their chair should revive flagging dinner party conversation. Value and history aside, however, these houses are all excellent places to live.
▲ Les Aspres, France, €6.1m
Where: Near Bonnieux, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
What: A nine-bedroom, 17th-century estate with 86 acres (35 hectares), a pool and outbuildings, including guesthouse and cottage.
Why: The house was built when the area was under papal control near Bonnieux, a village that has perched in the Luberon hills since Roman times. The vendor, publisher Tom Maschler, has lived here for 20 years. He co-created the Booker Prize and is discoverer and publisher of many great authors, including Gabriel García Márquez, Joseph Heller and Bruce Chatwin.
Who: Winkworth France, www.winkworth.fr, tel: +44 (0)20 8576 5582
Shakespeare House, UK, £1.5m ►
Where: Grendon Underwood, Buckinghamshire
What: A seven-bedroom restored Elizabethan Georgian former coaching inn with good views and a 1.4 acre (0.6 hectare) garden.
Why: As the Ship Inn, this was a 14th-century motel. Local history claims that Shakespeare used to stay between Stratford and London. The room where the Bard reputedly slept and wrote part of A Midsummer Night’s Dream still exists. The house is surrounded by Buckinghamshire countryside, and is a reasonable commute from London.
Who: Fine, www.fine.co.uk, tel: +44 (0)1908 969129
▲ 25 Craven Street, UK, £4.5m
Where: Covent Garden, London
What: A four-bedroom freehold townhouse (currently laid out as three bedrooms) built in 1792 over six floors with a roof terrace.
Why: There’s a kudos to living in a house with an English Heritage blue plaque in London, bolstered by the fact that everyone has heard of the person commemorated. So Herman Melville, author of Moby-Dick, is a good one. This house is excellently located in central London, great for shopping, dining, theatreland and the City, yet its street is quiet. With a brush of paint and some white window boxes, it would look as elegant as it probably once used to.
Who: EA Shaw, www.eashaw.com, tel: +44 (0)20 7240 2255
▲ The Hill Farm, US, $6m
Where: Quaker Hill, Pawling, New York
What: An 1830s, eight-bedroom estate with 225 acres (91 hectares) of fields and woodland, two further cottages and an indoor pool.
Why: This was the home of the controversial preacher Norman Vincent Peale, friend of President Richard Nixon, author of The Power of Positive Thinking and subject of the 1964 film One Man’s Way. Pawling is in the foothills of the Berkshires on the Appalachian Trail, under two hours’ train ride from New York City.
Who: Houlihan Lawrence, www.houlihanlawrence.com, tel: +1 914 234 9099 (US), +44 (0)20 7467 5330 (UK)
70 Willow Street, US, $15.9m ►
Where: Brooklyn Heights, New York
What: An 11-bedroom townhouse dating from 1839 with a large garden.
Why: Truman Capote lived in the basement flat from 1955 to 1965. Here he wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s and a poem called “A House on The Heights”, about 70 Willow Street. Just minutes from Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights is mostly low-rise, with one of the US’s largest concentrations of pre-civil war housing. The house has 11 fireplaces, 38 windows and a Charleston porch leading to the garden.
Who: Sotheby’s International Realty, www.sothebysrealty.com, tel: +1 212 810 4990