An 85 Year-Old Novelist’s Writing Room

An 85 Year-Old Novelist’s Writing Room

After living in London for many years, the acclaimed 85-year-old British novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard now lives in Bungay, Suffolk, in a house that she bought ten minutes after first seeing it. Houses have always been important to her: this one is her harbor after a very stormy life. The Guardian recently published an article in which 85-year-old English writer Elizabeth Jane Howard talked about the writing room in her house:

I moved into this room 20 years ago and spent the first five years fighting desks that weren’t right in some way. Eventually I had this one made-right size, filing cabinets and drawers in the right place-and it’s made such a difference. I write on an Apple Mac, but still can’t help thinking of technology as something of an enemy. I’m much fonder of things like the meat skewer paper knife given to me by my old and beloved agent, A. D. Peters. He sent them to all his clients, but I’m probably one of the last to still use it.

My chair is one of the ugliest I’ve ever seen. But it is comfortable and moves around. I’ve long looked for a graceful chair that was any use and did once try one of those Swedish designs where you half kneel. But all that happened was my knees got exhausted and I couldn’t stop thinking “I am in this extraordinary chair” when I should have been concentrating on writing.

I work from about 10 in the morning to 1:30. I used to have another stint in the late afternoon, but I’m now 85 and one session a day seems enough. I’m not a quick writer, but I don’t have to rewrite much. Anything writers ever say about writing can only apply to them, as you have to find your own way of doing things.

You can read more about Elizabeth Jane Howard’s writing room here.

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One Response to “An 85 Year-Old Novelist’s Writing Room”

  1. Linda Amstutz Says:

    I was fortunate to have spent Thanksgiving Day 2001 at a most unusual Thanksgiving celebration in a French chateau – across the table from Ms. Howard.
    I have thought often about that amazing dinner and I wonder if she too thought it was as extraordinary as I did.
    Has she an email address where I might contact her? Short of that could you ask her for me?
    Since meeting her I have read (and enjoyed to the point of wallowing in them) much of what she has written – and began a novel of my own. I owe her a great debt and if you could tell her, I would be grateful.
    Thanks,
    Linda Amstutz


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