Novel Houses: Twenty Famous Fictional Dwellings

SKU: BOD-1332

'In this collection of 20 sparkling mini-essays, Christina Hardyment sets out to show how bricks and mortar make compelling fictional characters just as surely as skin and bone. Skilfully deploying biography, close reading and psychogeography, Hardyment creates a series of charming house portraits, starting with Horace Walpole's gothic castle of Otranto (1764) and winding up with the equally crenellated Hogwarts, courtesy of JK Rowling (1997-2007).' - The Guardian

'Novel Houses is a lively literary gazetteer to great imaginative homes…If you like nuggets about niches and gleanings about gables, you'll love this book.' - The Times

'This absorbing collection of 20 'portraits' of literary houses explores their symbolic meaning, as well as the context of their creation.' - House & Garden

'An enjoyable and nicely weighted tour of legendary buildings from English and American fiction, with Hardyment as a knowledgeable and (thankfully) unstuffy guide.' - Irish Times

'This is a delightful, varied and perceptive book, full of insights that entice one to read or re-read the novels. It opens a fresh way of looking at fiction and sends one back to other titles one loves where houses are characters alongside people.' - Church Times


Novel Houses visits unforgettable dwellings in twenty legendary works of English and American fiction. Each chapter stars a famous novel in which a dwelling is pivotal to the plot, and reveals how personally significant that place was to the writer who created it.

We discover Uncle Tom’s Cabin’s powerful influence on the American Civil War, how essential 221B Baker Street was to Sherlock Holmes and the importance of Bag End to the adventuring hobbits who called it home. It looks at why Bleak House is used as the name of a happy home and what was on Jane Austen’s mind when she worked out the plot of Mansfield Park. Little-known background on the dwellings at the heart of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast and Stella Gibbon’s Cold Comfort Farm emerges, and the real life settings of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and E.M. Forster’s Howards End, so fundamental to their stories, are shown to relate closely to their authors’ passions and preoccupations. 

A winning combination of literary criticism, geography and biography, this is an entertaining and insightful celebration of beloved novels and the extraordinary role that houses grand and small, imagined and real, or unique and ordinary, play in their continuing popularity.

Christina Hardyment is a writer and journalist with a special interest in literary geography and domestic history. She is the author of Writing the Thames (Bodleian Library Publishing, 2016).

  • Hardback
  • 240 pages, 234 x 156 mm
  • 40 colour illustrations
  • ISBN: 9781851244805
  • Publication October 2019

Related products

View all
Pathless Forest: The Quest to Save the World's Largest Flowers
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Left Continue shopping
Your Order

You have no items in your cart