The Home

Do you know the first line from Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. ‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.’

Manderley was based on a real house that Daphne Du Maurier saw and loved (and later bought). I read an article this week about houses that famous authors lived in, and many of them used the houses they lived in – or the houses they saw – as inspiration for their books.

These homes almost become characters in their own right. They feel real. They feel complete.

However, the image in the books, even when based on a real house, don’t always match up to the real house. Satis House in Great Expectations looks nothing like I imagined it (the real house is in Rochester). But there is still a sense of a real, living place, that you can see and visit, if only you can find it.

I love the idea that these homes really exist. But do I want to visit? After all, I have an image in my mind of these homes, and the image isn’t always the same as the author’s.

And just to let you know 221b Baker Street is a lot smaller than I imagined it – but as it didn’t exist when Arthur Conan Doyle wrote Sherlock Holmes, it’s amazing it’s there at all. But there it is, with the chairs by the fire and the VR in bullet holes in the wall and the pipes on the table. It’s a prime example of a house being created to match the story, rather than the other way round.

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