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Style Watch

The writer’s lair

Known for his bleeding edge medical thrillers, author Robin Cook does some of his writing from a Beacon Hill study that recalls a much earlier era.

“I have a great love of art. I like to live with it; it’s even better to live in it.” — Robin CookKeller + Keller

BEST-SELLING AUTHOR ROBIN COOK, known for his medical thrillers, is also a design virtuoso, particularly when it comes to his six-story Beacon Hill town house, which was built circa 1833, around the start of the Victorian era in America. Cook purchased the home in 1977, the year after he completed his residency at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (he’s also an MD) and the year his first blockbuster, Coma, was published. Determined to restore the house to period-appropriate grandeur, he decorated the writing room — where he worked on the revisions of his newest book, Nano  — with Pompeian and Greek themes, befitting a Victorian gentleman’s study.

1 > GILDED PILASTERS punctuate the room.


2 > A PAINTING BY BILL PARDY, a locally based artist, portrays two Roman triremes battling a Carthaginian trireme during the Punic Wars.

3 > A GREEK KEY FRIEZE runs around the entire room and along the beams of the coffered ceiling. Local artisan Adolpho Sanchez and his family spent four months detailing the room.

4 > CARVED CAPITALS by local sculptor Robert Shure depict the head of Jason and the bow of his ship, the Argo, amid a curling sea.

5 > PAINTED LAMPSHADES, also the work of Pardy, are based on scenes from specific pieces of classic Greek pottery found in museums around the world.

6 > COOK’S WRITING DESK is carved from a single slab of mahogany by Charlestown-based Flanagan Woodworking. The curved front is based on an ellipse, a complicated design that Cook came up with himself.

7 > THE CUSTOM RUG, woven in England, was originally meant for Cook’s Manhattan apartment. Its Greek key and leaf pattern is typical of the slightly earlier French Empire but still appropriate for the room.