August 30, 2010
When you think of your favourite author hard at work, what do you picture? Rustic ateliers with views of rooftops? Remote cabins deep in the woods a la Henry Thoreau at Walden? The Guardian newspaper in the UK featured an entertaining series called Writers’ Rooms showing a photo and a bit of back story on the space by the writer his or her self. I loved some of the unexpected little details and found the entries witty and fun. The Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival followed up with a version of its own on its website, exploring the work spaces of local authors. Equally engaging!
Steven Galloway (The Cellist of Sarajevo etc.) wrote: “The sign on my door read “Roy’s Poodles, Poodle Training and Poodle Related Services” and from time to time I’d advertise a job opening. Once someone from the Government of Canada’s Human Resources division put their card under the door in response to a posting for a fully accredited canine acupuncturist. Good times.”
Michael Morpurgo (The Butterfly Lion, Alone on a Wide Wide Sea etc.) wrote: “For many years, I wrote on our bed in the house. But there were complaints about ink on the sheets, dirty feet on the bed, and we felt we should try to create somewhere else, a storyteller’s house.” (Read more )
And of Jane Austen’s space: “Having no room of her own, she established herself near the little-used front door and here ‘she wrote upon small sheets of paper which could easily be put away or covered with a piece of blotting paper’. A creaking swing door gave her warning when anyone was coming, and she refused to have the creak remedied.”
Writers in the movies seem to always have enviably well turned out havens for their work. Remember Diane Keaton’s alcove in Something’s Gotta Give? or Colin Firth in Love Actually hard at work on a novel in Italy and feeling quite distracted by his Portuguese housekeeper… Click on the photos to connect with the videos of these scenes.