It seems as though garden retreats are a must have for some of the most successful writers of the last 100 years. Here is just a small list of the great and passionate writers who took to garden sheds and log cabins to create their masterpieces.
Roald Dahl had a writing shed built on the grounds of his home in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire. Unlike Woolf, nobody else was allowed in. Wired up with electricity, Dahl’s writing shed allowed for lighting and a telephone. He even had heating placed in so he could work in private during the winter months. Roald Dahl’s writing hut is on display at The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, his former home.
In the garden of her Sussex home Monk’s House, Virginia Woolf had her own writing space built at the end of her garden. Created from a wooden shed, Virginia wrote many of her famous books and essays, including part of Mrs Dalloway. In 1924 Woolf had a oil heater placed into her ‘Writing Lodge’, as she came to call it, to keep her warm during the winter months. In the warm evenings friends of the author and her husband, Leonard, would visit and enjoy the evening on the patio built outside of the shed.
Famous Playwright, George Bernard Shaw had a writing hut on the grounds of his Hertfordshire home, Shaws Corner. Built not long after 1920, Shaw’s hut was quite possibly ahead of its time having been built on a rotating base. This allowed Shaw to move the hut throughout the day so he was in the sun or shade depending on his desire. Shaw equipped his hut with electricity and heating so that the elements did not disturb his writing process. In the late 1990’s the University of Hertfordshire’s Department of Engineering helped to bring the writing hut back to life by repositioning it on its axis, allowing it to once again be turned with the sun.
Dylan Thomas, took his writing to the shed on the grounds of his Boat House property in Laugharne. Unlike other authors, Thomas’ shed did not go down the route of luxury with electricity. Instead he settled with a coal-fired stove to keep him warm during the cold weather. The picturesque scenery is rumoured to have inspired some of Thomas’ finest works, such as Over Sir John’s Hill.
Philip Pullman, author of the Dark Materials trilogy, used to write from a shed in the back of his Oxfordshire home. Pullman has said that he used to escape to the shed to write free of the distractions in his house, namely the sound of his son playing the violin. Since moving to a larger house which enables Pullman to have his own study he has sold the shed where his award winning trilogy was written.
More recently, Ali Harris the author of The First Last Kiss and Miracle on Regent Street is known to write in her own shed/garden space. Not just any shed either, Ali Harris has one of our very own Dunster House Log Cabins. Ali talks about her writers retreat in a feature with Red magazine explaining how she wanted a place to retreat, distraction free to continue her work through to completion.
So, if you purchase a Log Cabin or Shed you too could be on your way to literary success!*
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*success not guaranteed