5 Best Writers’ Retreats of All Time
Some like it hot. Others like it cold, or cluttered, or colorful. As you can imagine, authors, poets, and playwrights find inspiration in a variety of writing environments. With Log Cabin Day coming up on June 28, the Grammarly team began thinking about the best — and most interesting — places to write.
Are you curious about where your favorite author penned his or her bestseller?
Henry David Thoreau: Walden Pond
Seeking an escape from modern life, Henry David Thoreau found the perfect spot adjacent to picturesque Walden Pond. There, he built a minimal shack for under $30 and kept it simple with just chairs, a desk, a bed, and a table. Happily, this shack served as more than a refuge — it became an inspiration to Thoreau. He lived here for two years while he pondered and wrote his best-known book, Walden. An experiment in self-sufficiency, simple living, and independence, Thoreau’s Walden continues to inspire readers today.
George Bernard Shaw: “London”
George Bernard Shaw built a unique writing structure on his own property, hidden in the garden. He gave it the code name “London” so that when callers inquired after his whereabouts they could be honestly informed that the playwright had gone to London. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the hut is its ability to rotate to catch the best possible sunlight. Since Shaw preferred to write under constant sunlight, London was the ideal location.
Virginia Woolf: Garden Shed
Anyone who has read Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own knows exactly how the author felt about having a private retreat to put her words to paper. In the garden of the house she shared with her husband, Woolf had a small shed of her own where she wrote some of her best-known novels. While she didn’t pen A Room of One’s Own here, it is where she wrote Mrs. Dalloway and The Waves, among others. Even better, her home was a magnet for other writers in the Bloomsbury Group, including T.S. Eliot and E.M. Forster.
Roald Dahl: Gypsy Hut
Like Woolf, Roald Dahl also worked from a garden shed to write some of his best novels. His was custom built and known as the “gypsy hut.” He worked hard to keep the space to himself, going so far as to ban his own children from entering. Those who caught a peek inside reported that the hut looked more like a laboratory than a library, which is perhaps fitting for such an inventive writer. Dahl worked religiously in the hut, penning much-loved novels like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and James and the Giant Peach.
Dylan Thomas: Boathouse
While some writers keep their spaces impeccably tidy, Dylan Thomas plastered his writing area with words, lists, rhymes, and pieces by fellow writers like Walt Whitman and W.H. Auden. Before Thomas used this area as a writing space, it had spent a previous life as a cliffside boathouse. Thomas saw this space as his workshop and treated it as such, pinning inspiration, photographs, and works in progress to the walls. Today, there’s no doubt this was an inspiring space — the writer penned his famous Under Milk Wood here before departing Wales for New York, never to return.
In lieu of a private office or library, the writers above decided to try something different to help inspire their work. From custom-built huts to garden shacks to repurposed boathouses, each author took the initiative to create a unique space meant to stop writer’s block in its tracks. As a result, these writer’s retreats inspired some of the most-loved works of literature.
Where (or what) is your ideal writer’s retreat?