The House by the Lake: The Story of a Home and a Hundred Years of History

Illustrator: Britta Teckentrup

Binding: Hardcover

Imprint: Walker Studio

1 Other Related Editions

Age 5+

True Stories History & The Past: General Interest

A beautiful picture-book adaptation of Thomas Harding's Costa-shortlisted biography for adults, exquisitely illustrated by Britta Teckentrup.

On the outskirts of Berlin, a wooden cottage stands on the shore of a lake. Over the course of a century, this little house played host to a loving Jewish family, a renowned Nazi composer, wartime refugees and a Stasi informant; in that time, a world war came and went, and the Berlin Wall was built a stone's throw from the cottage's back door.

Thomas Harding first shared this remarkable story in his Costa-shortlisted biography The House by the Lake – now he has rendered it into a deeply moving picture-book for young readers. With words that read like a haunting fairy-tale, and magnificent artwork by Britta Teckentrup, this is the astonishing true story of the house by the lake.


A Radio 4 Book of the Week

Named a Best Book of the Year by:
The Times >> New Statesman >> Daily Express >> Commonweal magazine

Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award 2015

Longlisted for the Orwell Prize 2016

Over 50 five-star reviews on Amazon

"A passionate memoir." – Neil MacGregor

"A superb portrait of twentieth century Germany seen through the prism of a house which was lived in, and lost, by five different families. A remarkable book." – Tom Holland

"A book that will stay with me for a very long time." – Rachel Joyce

"A superb work of social history." – The Sunday Times

"Diamond brilliant ... an extraordinary book." – Sunday Express

"A deft history of a cabin containing many secrets." – Independent

"A fascinating window on a tumultuous period" – Financial Times

"Original, personal, moving and uplifting" – Literary Review

"This is a history that is often poignant, sometimes heartening, and never other than intimate." – Spectator

"An extraordinary book…. Harding has extracted the past from the dust that collects between floorboards and from layers of peeling wallpaper.” – Washington Post


"I was riveted: this is a fascinating social history." – Nigella Lawson

"Written with love and imagination ... a masterclass in historical empathy." – TLS

"Nobody quite stirs the soup of historical detail like Harding." – Express


Thomas Harding is an author and journalist who has written for the Financial Times, The Sunday Times (London), The Washington Post, and The Guardian, among other publications. He cofounded a television station in Oxford, England, and for many years was an award-winning documentary maker. He also ran a local newspaper in West Virginia, winning the West Virginia Association of Justice’s Journalist of the Year Award, before moving back to England in 2011, where he lives with his family.

Britta Teckentrup's strikingly beautiful picture-books have been published in more than twenty countries. They include Tree, Bee, Moon, Ocean and Under the Same Sky, which was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Born in Hamburg, Germany, and educated in London at St. Martin's College and the Royal College of Art, she currently lives with her family in Berlin. See her work online at, and follow her on Instagram at @britta_teckentrup.