Writer’s Rooms

There’s a neat article in the Guardian with wonderful pictures and descriptions of the rooms in which some well-known British writers past and present have put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

Roald Dahl’s writing shedRoald Dahl’s raggedy little shack brought a tear to my eye, because on the walls you can see letters from schools and fans that he saved for years. I sent him a letter when I was in 5th grade and got the most wonderful personal reply from him. The 5th grade students the year after wrote him when the teacher was reading “The Witches”, and he answered them too.

Historian Eric Hobsbawm’s room is another favorite of mine. It’s layered in books and papers, and Hobsbawm’s description is endearing as hell.

Some of the shelves visible on the picture behind the two desks contain books on subjects I still work on: nationalism, the history of banditry. Most of them, however, are filled with the foreign editions of my books. Their numbers amaze and please me and they still keep coming as new titles are translated and some fresh vernacular markets – Hindi, Vietnamese – open up. As I can’t read most of them, they serve no purpose other than as a bibliographic record and, in moments of discouragement, as a reminder that an old cosmopolitan has not entirely failed in 50 years of trying to communicate history to the world’s readers. And as an encouragement to go on while I still can.



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Comment by Tiffany
2008-06-28 21:41:34

Thanks for the article–I love it! And I will try very hard not to howl at the fabulousity of getting a letter back from Roald Dahl. :love:

Comment by livius drusus
2008-06-29 09:41:40

I still flush when I remember getting that letter. I keep it in its envelope clipped to my copy of the BFG, which is what I was reading when I wrote to him.

i <3 Roald Dahl 4evar.

Comment by livius drusus
2008-06-29 09:46:53

Oh! And I just now remembered that in his reply to the 5th grade class behind me, he wrote this bit about how although witches are everywhere in disguise as lovely ladies, of course their teacher is just a lovely lady. Most assuredly. Just a lovely, lovely lady.

Ms. Fields told me that when she read the letter aloud to the class, everyone’s eyes widened at that bit. She was on cloud nine for days.

Comment by illusory tenant
2008-07-01 21:34:51

Neat article. I’m surprised they didn’t include Dylan Thomas’s boat house at Laugharne, Wales.

Comment by livius drusus
2008-07-02 11:20:32

Nice shanty. I wonder if the crumpled up bits of paper are untouched mint condition Thomas trash.

Comment by illusory tenant
2008-07-03 15:54:05

I believe they are. I peered in the little window myself a few years ago, and if I recall correctly, the room was left as it was after he died in New York.

Comment by livius drusus
2008-07-06 08:59:36

That’s way cool. Srsly tho, if I were a curator there, I’d uncrumple those papers just to see what was on them then crumple them back up.

Comment by mkessler
2008-10-30 14:45:02

I have some great book suggestions for you, but can’t seen to find any contact info. Please let me know if you’re interested in recommendations :hattip:

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