There’s a series on BBC4 at the moment called The Secret Life Of Books, about favourite books and how they came to be written. It’s absolutely fascinating, and last week it was about Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. During the programme they mentioned that when she was in the country she wrote in a shed at the bottom of the garden.
Just like Roald Dahl. And Dylan Thomas. And Charles Dickens (though having seen his ‘shed’ at The Nuns House in Rochester, it looks more like a small cottage).
I wish I had a shed at the bottom of the garden. I wish I had a garden. In fact, right now, I wish I had a decent desk. (I have a tiny flat, and no room for most desks. I’m on a constant search to find the exact right desk for my flat).
On the other hand, I do have what all those writers didn’t have – solitude. I live alone. All those people had family around them (lots of family in the case of Dickens). It seems what they needed was a space outside the home – not even a room of their own but an entirely different building of their own. Even when Dickens wrote in the home, he had a specially soundproofed door so he could shut out the rest of the house.
More proof that at heart, we writers are a solitary lot. For all those people typing away in coffee shops (and I’ve done it myself) I wonder how many are writing away in sheds at the bottom of the garden?