1. Henry Williamson’s self-built sanctuary
For many writers, the ambiance in which they work matters. Recently listed, this writing hut was built by Henry Williamson in 1929 from the proceeds of Tarka the Otter, and he went on to write more than 50 novels in this simple yet characterful writing sanctuary.
2. T.S. Eliot’s seaside shelter
Nayland Rock promenade shelter overlooking Margate Sands, listed at Grade II. © JohntheFinn
Some locations are used only fleetingly. T.S. Eliot was in Margate for three weeks in autumn 1921 as part of a rest cure following a mental breakdown. In a letter he wrote that he had started work on the poem The Waste Land during his stay, some of which we know was written in this shelter.
3. George Bernard Shaw’s garden hut
Dubbed “London”, the name of George Bernard Shaw’s writing hut was chosen so that his staff would not be lying when they said he had “gone to London”. He wrote numerous plays here, including Pygmalion in 1912.
4. Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top idyll
Beatrix Potter enjoyed country holidays and decided to buy her own rural retreat. She often wrote here and illustrated this house in many of her books, including The Tale of Tom Kitten, The Tale of Samuel Whiskers and The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck. In 1908 she left the farm to our friends the National Trust, in whose care it remains today.
5. Vita Sackville-West’s tranquil tower
While some writers prefer humble huts, Vita Sackville-West chose this impressive tower. Best known for her works The Edwardians (1930) and All Passion Spent (1931), the novelist and poet had the tower elegantly restored to provide a room from where she could write.
6. Virginia Woolf’s writing workshop
This picturesque writing shed lies in the garden of Virginia Woolf’s rural retreat, which she used from 1919 onwards. During this time she published works including Night and Day (1919), and Mrs Dalloway (1925).
7. Lawrence of Arabia’s country cottage
T. E. Lawrence’s last home seems an appropriate site to end with. Lawrence lived at Clouds Hill Cottage between 1925 and his death in 1935, during which time he wrote his last works whilst receiving regular visitors including Thomas Hardy. Today the cottage is open to the public and remains exactly as he left it.
People have been telling their stories since the waves first lapped England’s shores.
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