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
Let’s get some women…
Daphe du Maurier – quite a formal, little writing desk without much clutter
J.K. Rowling in her early days writing in cafes in Edinburgh and now she has a room of her own (right)
Love this picture of Maya Angelou just scribbling on a pad on the floor
Hilary Mantel – a very tidy, formal writing space
Jacqueline Wilson – another tidy writer
The original ‘room of one’s own’ – Virgina Woolf’s desk, in her writing shed
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.
Where do you write? Let us know in comments or on our Twitter, Facebook or Google plus pages, if you have pictures to share.