M.F.K. Fisher's Last House
"The sunset was strictly Maxfield Parrish. Thanks to the smatter of rain last week,
there is the sound of many frogs... Always amazing to me..."
-Letter to Norah Barr, 1973
M.F. K. Fisher: “America’s greatest writer”
Referred to by W.H. Auden as “America’s greatest writer,” M.F.K. Fisher wrote thirteen books during twenty-one years of residence in her ‘Last House,’ which was built for her by Bouverie Preserve landowner and architect David Pleydell-Bouverie. It was here that she welcomed friends such as Julia Child, James Beard, and Maya Angelou for conversations at the table.
A literary pursuit of wine and food
Aside from writing approximately 34 books in her lifetime, another one of Fisher’s legacies is the Napa Wine Library. In 1961, M.F.K. Fisher along with James Beard and a group of other notables, saw a need for a place in Napa where the public could access a variety of wine materials. They started a campaign to acquire wine literature and raise funds and in 1963 the Napa Valley Wine Library Association was created. Fisher helped to launch this effort and served on the board for a time. The Napa Valley Wine Library Association thrives today and materials for the Wine Library collection are housed in the St Helena Public Library.
During her life and continuing to this day, she influenced many with her reflections on food. You can hear her voice in the writings of many popular chefs today. We think she would say when we talk about food, we are talking about ourselves, our identity and our place in the world.
Mary Frances, as she was known by her family and friends, lived in Last House on the Bouverie Preserve from 1971 until her death in 1992.
Restoring the legendary author’s home
Fisher treasured her two-room palazzino, which features a simple design, her signature Chinese red walls, built-in bookcases for over 6,000 books and arched porches that look west to Sonoma Mountain and east to the 535 acres of land protected by ACR. Since 2016, we have been restoring Last House to capture the spirit and the flavor of her life on the preserve and as an exclusive destination honoring her love of food, wine, literature and nature.
Paintings, furnishings, and memorabilia
Complementing the renovation are paintings, furnishings and memorabilia donated back to the house by family and friends. “Reaching out to family and friends who have lovingly shared items, memories, and stories has been rich,” said Kennedy Golden, Fisher’s daughter and an advisor on the project. Among the donated items, Fisher’s Coronomatic typewriter sits quietly in one corner, rough draft secured on the platen for curious observers.
Be inspired! Get involved!
Each year, we host the Last House Writing contest for previously unpublished child, youth, and adult writers. Be inspired by themes picked from Fisher’s writings and the natural surroundings of Last House.
Learn more about this year’s Fourth Annual Last House Writing Contest >
Volunteer help is especially welcome on pre-planning and day-of activities for a range of engaging events hosted by Last House, as well as ongoing special projects like managing the Last House library and giving pre-scheduled tours.