Here are the writers I knew of and whose rooms I checked out:
Charles Darwin, Virginia Wolfe, Rudyard Kipling (espeically interesting having just watched the Masterpiece drama, My Boy Jack), George Bernard Shaw, Roald Dahl, Simon Gray, Martin Amis (very amusing, of course), Seamus Heany, Alain de Botton (I actually had an email correspondence with him, long ago - I love his books), Margaret Drabble, Ian Rankin, Antonia Fraser, David Lodge, AS Byatt (sister of Drabble), Hillary Mantel, Sarah Waters, David Hare.
A Change of Climate by Hillary Mantel was one of two of my mother's favorite novels (The other is The Red and the Black by Stendahl). She liked a lot of Mantel's books. Mantel excerpts her new novel on Cromwell in the current issue of The New York Review of Books.
What I noticed were two things:
- how ordinary the rooms are
- how many of their desks face out a window
My favorite is hard to calibrate - some are favorite because the commentary is funny (Lodge, Amis, and Botton). Others are intrigue and are favored because they contrast so with what I conjure the mind of the writing I know. How does that mind function in that room? (Byatt, Drabble, Fraser). Waters' was positively depraved. There wasn't one where I responded, ahh of course - such a place of course inspires such writing.
So interesting what the imagination creates about the object of admiration....
The assembly and interviews were clearly a lot of work. Thank you Guardian! (Imagine a US paper thinking such an exercise would be of interest to their readers).