Writer’s Room and Its View

First saw the photo collection of writer’s room on douban.com.. From there I was able to trace the source at guardian.co.uk, where you could read what each writer has to say about his/her room.


Then i came across Norman Sherry’s description of Graham Greene’s writing room in Antibes, where he first interviewed Greene for the 3-volume biography of the writer.

The Main room of his flat was modest in size, thirty feet by twelve.  There was a bamboo sofa and two bamboo chairs. Above the sofa was an abstract (flowers) given to Greene by Fidel Castro. White bookshelves filled two walls, and on another wall was a muffin-coloured print of lunardi making his ascent in a balloon in 1789. Near the window a table performed the dual function of dining table and writing desk. There was a black and white television set, used mostly to watch the 7.45pm news from Paris. There were some personal touches – eight pictures  but no photographs – and if our living rooms are places which reflect our personalities, was Greene’s an accident or a calculated revelation of character?

I’m incliend to think it was neither – just a statement of what its inhabitant needed in order to live and to work. None of the trappings proclaim a successful writer, merely the basic necessities for writing and living – nothing superfluous, a statement of fact. As Greene wrote of Scobie’s room in The Heart of the Matter: “To a stranger it would have appeared a bare, uncomfortable room but to Scobie it was home.  Other men slowly build up the sense of home by accumulation… Scobie built his home by a process of reduction’.

Writing at his dual-purpose table, Graham Green faced into the light through a window which shows a fine view of the marina, a few yachts in the winter sun (it had stopped raining) and on the far side of the basin the low slung, immensely powerful sixteenth century Fort Carre, mountain-solid.

– The Life of Graham Green Volume I by Norman Sherry

It shows the limitation of a single photograph used by the Guardian series. Often to capture the setting of the room, the photo had to omit the view. And you would almost always “hear” bout that missing view from the writier’s writing accompanied the photo. Without the view, the room is incomplete. It doesn’t have to be a grand view, a garden, some greenery,  or even another apartment building will do. It is an outlet, a place thought could wander.