Truman Capote Slept Here: 10 Big Authors’ Houses for Sale (Photos)

From Capote's Brooklyn townhouse to Anne Rice’s foreclosure, the literary world's real-estate listings.

Getty Images ; Ghmyrtle

Getty Images ; Ghmyrtle

The literary icon’s yellow Brooklyn townhouse just sold for a record $12.5 million. See homes once owned by Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, and Emily Griffin.

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Truman Capote

For those who dreamed of having breakfast where Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the author’s Brooklyn Heights townhouse was listed for sale in 2010 with a shocking asking price of $18 million. Though the home has 11 bedrooms and fireplaces, enough parking for four cars, and a garden, there were no takers and the price kept dropping. But the Capote house finally sold on March 21—to Grand Theft Auto mogul Dan Houser—for $12.5 million, a record for Brooklyn.

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Ernest Hemingway

Think of it as Papa’s mama’s house. This week, the childhood home of Ernest Hemingway in Oak Park, Ill., was listed for sale. Built in 1906 by architect Henry G. Fiddelke with considerable input from the author’s mother, Grace, the 4,200-square-foot house was “a glorious home for entertaining,” according to real-estate agent Steve Scheuring. “It once had a music room off the north side and she held music events in the home while the front two rooms off the entry foyer were his father’s physician offices.” Currently owned by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation, the six-bedroom house has an asking price of $525,000.

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Anne Rice

The real-estate bubble got scary even for bestselling author Anne Rice. “I was not somebody who was stocking money away in a savings account,” she admitted to Britain’s Telegraph in January. “Nothing in the world could have stopped me from buying big and beautiful houses, and I loved it. But it was a very, very expensive way to live, and it had to come to an end.” In 2011, Rice lost her $3.6 million home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., to foreclosure, and later in the year, she put her Garden District house in New Orleans on the market for $3.19 million. The Victorian mansion has six bedrooms and seven bathrooms and more than 7,600 square feet of living space. Fittingly, Rice’s previous home in New Orleans is considered haunted.

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John Updike

In December 2011, John Updike’s boyhood home in Shillington, Pa., went up for sale in an unlikely place—eBay. With an opening asking bid of $249,000, the four-bedroom house was clearly a fixer-upper, but one with a lot of literary history—Updike frequently wrote about the home: “My bedroom was a narrow back room, with a bookshelf and some framed illustrations, by Vernon Grant, of nursery rhymes; it overlooked the back yard and adjoined my parents’ bedroom." In the end, the house sold for double the opening bid, $499,000.

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J.K. Rowling

A quintessential piece of Harry Potter memorabilia became available in July 2011 when the childhood home of J.K. Rowling was put up for sale in Tutshill, England. (Potterphiles will no doubt recall that the Tutshill Tornados is the name of a quidditch team.) Built in the 1850s, the Gothic cottage was the author’s home from age 9 to 18, and a windowpane even has “Joanne Rowling slept here circa 1982” carved into the wood. The house also has a trapdoor that leads to a cellar, but it is presumably not guarded by a three-headed dog. After two months on the market, the cottage (which was listed at nearly £400,000) sold to an unknown buyer for an unknown price.

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Harlan Coben

Though he lives in New Jersey, where most of his novels are set, bestselling thriller writer Harlan Coben kept a one-bedroom apartment on New York’s Upper West Side as a “writer’s lair.” But when the author of Tell No One purchased a larger apartment in the city’s legendary Dakota building, he put the 700-square-foot pied-à-terre up for sale—and made a little profit. Five years after Coben purchased his lair for $690,000, he sold it for $745,000.

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Toni Morrison

This was one real-estate listing that could legitimately claim the house was beloved. In June 2011, author Toni Morrison put her home in Princeton, N.J.—where she taught at the university for 17 years—up for sale. The Nobel Prize winner’s gabled house, which was built in 1880, has five bedrooms, 3.5 baths, sits on 1 acre, and was listed with an asking price of $1.795 million. Within six months, it sold for $1.495 million.

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William S. Burroughs

Having been born to a wealthy family in St. Louis, William S. Burroughs grew up on a beautiful tree-lined street in a five-bedroom home with three fireplaces. In November 2010, the home was listed for sale for $587,000, but there were no takers. “There’s no garage,” real-estate agent Vicki Armor admitted in July 2011. “And the house is landlocked, so there’s no way to put a garage in. That's the one thing that's making it hard to sell.” The owner even tried playing up the Burroughs connection by displaying the Naked Lunch author’s books, but potential buyers weren’t swayed. “Some people don't even know who he is,” Armor said. “But some raise their eyebrows and say, ‘Oh, really?’”  The Burroughs home was eventually withdrawn from the market.

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Emily Giffin

After nearly a decade in the Brookhaven neighborhood of Atlanta, bestselling novelist Emily Giffin and her husband knew it was time to move on. “Our kids are very outdoor kids,” the Something Borrowed author told The Wall Street Journal last year. “We fell in love with another house on 5 acres with a pond and a pool.” So Giffin put her six-bedroom home with a garden, outdoor fireplace, and plunge pool up for sale with an asking price of $2.1 million. (She even offered to negotiate for the desk where she wrote three of her five novels.) A sale on the home is now pending for $2 million.

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Norman Mailer

As befits the pugnacious author’s history, a fight broke out over the sale of Norman Mailer’s Brooklyn Heights apartment. Put on the market in April 2011, the nautically themed fourth-floor co-op overlooking the Manhattan skyline was listed for $2.5 million. A few months later, it sold to hedge-fund manager Wesley Golby for $2.08 million,  who soon claimed that Mailer’s apartment wasn’t up to code and tried to back out of the deal. Said a lawyer for the Mailer estate: “This is simply a case of buyer’s remorse.” In other words, an unhappy ending.