Chateaubriand, an icon of the Romantic Era, grew up in the thick-walled, four-tower Château de Combourg. Topped with "witches' cap" towers that the poet likened to Gothic crowns, it dates mainly from the 14th and 15th centuries. Quartered in the tower called "La Tour du Chat" along with roosting birds and the ghost of the wooden-legged Comte de Combourg, young René succumbed to the château's moody spell and, in turn, became a leading light of Romanticism. His novel Atala and René, about a tragic love affair between a French soldier and a Native American maiden, was an international sensation in the mid-19th century, while his multivolume History of Christianity was required reading for half of Europe. The château grounds—ponds, woods, and cattle-strewn meadowland—are suitably mournful and can seem positively desolate when viewed under leaden skies. Its melancholy is best captured in Chateaubriand's famous Mémoires d'outre-tombe (Memories from Beyond the Tomb). Inside you can view neo-Gothic salons, the Chateaubriand archives, and the writer's severe bedroom up in the "Cat's Tower."