J.D. Salinger's New Hampshire house up for sale

Will the residence provide insight into the mysterious author's later life?

Edmund Fountain/Valley News/AP
A sign warns people not to proceed up the Cornish, N.H., driveway of author J.D. Salinger.

J.D. Salinger fans, rejoice: the late legendary author’s house in Cornish, N.H., is up for sale, giving Salinger followers a rare glimpse inside the reclusive writer’s house and life.

The 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom 2,900-square foot house is set on 12 acres and is listed for $679,000, according to local paper the Valley News.

"Formerly the home of writer JD Salinger, this charming house is set in an enchanting garden of flowers and trees. Land on both sides of the road ensures privacy," writes the real estate agent. "Garden spots to sit and dream."

Not surprisingly, the home is secluded. Visitors must travel a mile and half down a winding dirt road lined with ‘no trespassing’ signs to reach the house.

Salinger, of course, withdrew from public life after the success of his 1951 novel “A Catcher in the Rye,” which drew the writer sales, acclaim, and unwanted attention. He bought the Cornish house in 1953, left New York City and public life, and settled into a more private life in the wooded property.

According to reports, Salinger sold the house to the present owner, Joan Littlefield, in the 1980s. He had moved out of the house after separating from his wife, Claire Douglas. Littlefield decided to sell the house after the death of her husband. She told Valley News she had considered advertising the house in the New Yorker in the hopes of attracting literary types. 

Littlefield came across Salinger memorabilia after moving in, including old checkbooks, sections of fence, and Salinger’s toilet, which a dealer tried to sell on eBay for $1 million in 2010.

“Who knows how many of (his) stories were thought up and written while Salinger sat on this throne,” said the listing, which also advertised the toilet as “uncleaned and in its original condition.”

While the toilet’s provenance is not certain, the house’s roots are notable.

As the Valley News reported, “The property has an impressive pedigree. The land once belonged to Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the eminent American sculptor and founder in 1885 of the Cornish Art Colony.” 

A Saint-Gaudens descendant built the house in 1939 and Salinger later made his own additions.

Whether or not Salinger actually produced any stories from the Cornish house is unknown. He published a few stories in the 1950s after moving there, some of which may have been written from the home.

His later stories include "Franny" and "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters," both published in 1955; "Zooey," published in 1957; and "Seymour: An Introduction,” published in 1959.

"Hapworth 16, 1924,” which was published in the New Yorker in 1965, was Salinger's last piece to appear during his lifetime.

“The interior, filled with little cushions, crystal china and fabrics in warm pinks and oranges, reflects three decades of use by the Littlefields, but still conjures impressions of a cozy writer’s den,” writes the Valley News.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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