Writers’ relationships with their surroundings are seldom straightforward. While some, like Jane Austen and Thomas Mann, wrote novels set where they were staying (Lyme Regis and Venice respectively), Victor Hugo penned Les Misérables in an attic in Guernsey and Noël Coward wrote that most English of plays, Blithe Spirit, in the Welsh holiday village of Portmeirion.
Award-winning BBC drama producer Adrian Mourby follows his literary heroes around the world, exploring 50 places where great works of literature first saw the light of day. At each destination – from the Brontës’ Yorkshire Moors to the New York of Truman Capote, Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin to the now-legendary Edinburgh café where J.K. Rowling plotted Harry Potter’s first adventures – Mourby explains what the writer was doing there and describes what the visitor can find today of that great moment in literature.
Where writers write is something that has always fascinated me - as someone who is remarkably easily distracted, I'm longing for the days when I can have a shed at the bottom of my garden in which to write, unconnected from the outside world. Different things work for different writers though, and Adrian Mourby explores this to fascinating effect in "Rooms of One's own" taking the reader on a journey through studies, dining rooms, hotels, cottages and gardens in order to explore where some 50 well known authors spent time composing their works
This is no mere reference guide - Mourby travels to each place, and provides the reader with background on the area and writer, as well as personal insights and anecdotes that make for hugely entertaining reading. It's not a huge volume, but Mourby's style is such that he manages to convey large amounts of information without the reader ever feeling like they are being preached to - and as such, I came away full of facts and with a rather weighty list of places I need to visit.
Mourby doesn't just describe these places - his real life interactions with them truly serve to bring them to life for the reader, and as such this is a valuable little book that should really be treasured for providing huge amounts of insight without the reader having to go anywhere at all! Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.