Where Do You Write? Famous Writers’ Desks

Ever since Virginia Woolf wrote ‘A Room of One’s Own’ writers (many of whom haven’t read said essay) have dreamed of owning a retreat to write in – surely then, they could get that book finished. If only we had a room with a view of Tuscany, the ocean, a cabin in the woods or an octagonal writing hut in sage green with leaded windows – then writing would be easy. That’s what Virginia Woolf said, right? Actually, no.

Woolf’s essay actually focuses on the position of women and how it affects them as writers. The text examines the lack of social and financial freedoms women face, which creates hurdles male writers don’t have to overcome. And having ‘a room of one’s own’ was just one small part of Woolf’s discussion, as opposed to a handy strap-line for the luxury shed and summerhouse market.

It’s easy to imagine that famous authors have the perfect writing room. They can afford that art deco desk or the perfect garden retreat or Venetian villa, giving the space and idyllic atmosphere one needs to be able to write. In truth, many writers write surrounded by clutter, in a shabby chair or a corner of the kitchen. They don’t all earn pots of money and have to write where and when they can. ‘A room of one’s own’ for me, is in a cafe or sometimes it’s in the doorway of the shed, which gets the late evening sun or perhaps on my bed, which also gets late afternoon sun and in the winter, it’s next to the woodburner in the dining room. The only place I don’t write is at my desk. My desk is where I run my copywriting business, so it’s a place of work, rather than imagination. I prefer to curl up in a comfy chair to write fiction, usually helped by cake and hot chocolate.


Famous writers and their writing places

Dostoyevsky’s Desk – in his reasonably humble home in St Petersburg













Earnest Hemingway at his desk – elegant and looks to be in exotic climes













Roald Dahl and his famous writing hut – the original shabby chic













Dylan Thomas – another proponent of writing shed chic

Dylan Thomas














Let’s get some women…

Daphe du Maurier – quite a formal, little writing desk without much clutter

daphne du maurier















J.K. Rowling in her early days writing in cafes in Edinburgh and now she has a room of her own (right)

J K Rowling

jk rowling desk







Love this picture of Maya Angelou just scribbling on a pad on the floor

Maya Angelou











Hilary Mantel – a very tidy, formal writing space

Hilary Mantel









Jacqueline Wilson – another tidy writer 










The original ‘room of one’s own’ – Virgina Woolf’s desk, in her writing shed

virginia woolf













This is where I write for work (top), but I’m far more likely to be in the garden or a cafe, when writing fiction.

This is where I write copy for my clients, but I don't write fiction here

This is where I write copy for my clients, but I don’t write fiction here

In a cafe - about to mark-up edits for draft 1

In a cafe – about to mark-up edits for draft 1













Where do you write? Let us know in comments or on our Twitter, Facebook or Google plus pages, if you have pictures to share.





12 thoughts on “Where Do You Write? Famous Writers’ Desks

  1. Pingback: Where Do You Write? Famous Writers’ Desks | Desirable Desks

  2. Pingback: Where We Write Matters | UCWbLing

  3. ‘ in a shabby chair or a corner of the kitchen’- that’s me alright. Once my friend said that I should convert my stairs’ landing. Ha! I wish I HAD a landing, or stairs, or space to put either:-).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I usually write at my desk in my room. But, if I am traveling or writing a very early draft, I do scribbles in notebooks – on couches, in hallways, in other people’s rooms, in my mother’s living room, etc. Now though, my desk is not all *mine* – I have to share it, and it’s in the living room! Awful. Not always working for me. So, I have taken up writing in cafes for the first time in my life. So far it is good, but it is somewhat distracting for me, because interesting people and other writers are at cafes.

    I am still trying to figure out what helps me write. I had a good session once squeezed between my bed and the bedroom wall. I think small spaces somehow helps me think. My old desk in my own space was also squished- between my bed and a wall, with a window nearby.

    Nice post! I like it. I’ve shared your picture of Daphne du Maurier on my post about writing in cafes. Hope that’s alright.

    – Chaitanya


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Chaitanya, thanks for reading and taking time to comment. Happy for you to share the picture and hope you find the perfect small space. Perhaps you need a cupboard under the stairs.


  5. Writer’s rooms… I was obsessed by this idea for a while a few years ago in so much as if I found my ‘writing room’ everything else would fall into place. I was was no doubt under some major delusion at the time.

    Anyway, the UK Guardian newspaper ran a series entitled Writer’s Rooms in 2009, the series is available here: http://www.theguardian.com/books/series/writersrooms

    The photographer, who’s name I have forgotten had the original photographs displayed in a small gallery in London which I went to see after work one evening. I came away feeling the need for a room of my own and have had several since then, I’m not sure if any of them have helped my writing. These days I tend to write my first drafts long hand in a notebook anywhere removed from a computer and it’s accompanying distractions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. I think the idea of writing rooms are the biggest ruse ever. Especially when it comes to sheds and garden retreats. All you need is pen and paper and a comfy seat 🙂
      I do enjoy that Guardian series though. It’s nice to see famous authors at work.


    • Thanks Felipe. I don’t think Woolf (or I) was saying men don’t have hurdles, but for 100s of years women had financial and social disadvantages – no financial independence, voice outside the home, a lack of education after a certain age. Generally, this doesn’t apply to men and literature is still male dominated in terms of its heroes (both fictional and real). Just look at the #readwomen movement.

      That said, we all have hurdles and need a space to write and should support each other.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Very true Chella, on all points.

        I do think though that “most” men have had no real financial independence either, or voice outside their home, and certainly education after a certain age – all that was true in my case.

        What I also see is that “most” men also had not translated that into an empathy for either many of their fellow men, or women. I do think I see this as changing – but us guys still have very much to learn 🙂

        There was a feeling, I believe, that the necessity of sheer survival justified some of those attitudes by a few men toward everyone (men & women), and most men toward the women and children in their lives, but – that the challenge now, is one of abundance and empathy.

        I could be wrong, but I see things as hopeful, even amid the myriad mis-treatments more blatantly visible in today’s media.

        As you say, and couldn’t agree more – “…we all have hurdles and need a space to write and should support each other.”

        All the best wishes Chella 🙂


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