Archive for June 28th, 2008

Writer’s Rooms

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

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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