As bibliophiles can attest, we are all intrigued by the private lives of our favorite authors, often wondering about the ways that they worked creatively, and especially where they chose to write. For many, the choice was obvious, their office or bedroom – a personal space for reflection and inspiration.
At eNotes, we are really interested in embracing creativity and developing tips for success in school and work spaces. Time and time again we encounter articles noting the importance of having an organized, inspiring space to get to work. As we meditate on how to improve our own spaces, we’ve found ourselves wondering how our favorite authors might decorate their offices today. With this in mind, we created today’s blog post: A Writer’s Haven.
We’ve gone through and selected five famous authors from various time periods and have translated their individual preferences into modern takes on their offices. We had a lot of fun putting these together, and we hope you enjoy checking them out and finding inspiration for your own space. Check ‘em out below!
For Jane’s office we imagined a light and airy space with lots of natural light and creature comforts. We acknowledged her English roots and incorporate a tea pot, because we think that if any of our favorite authors would have had a tea pot in their office, it would have been her. We like to imagine that if Jane were here today, she would be a bit of an introvert, anxious to re-read the great number of books in her built-in bookcase.
Want to learn more about Jane Austen and her writing? Check out this link: http://www.enotes.com/topics/jane-austen
Here’s a tip: keep some sheep leather and blue gauls handy…
Yesterday we brought you the recipes to two authors’ favorite meals, so today I give you the recipe to one authoress’ writing success: a good leather bound book and a batch of homemade ink. For those Austen enthusiasts feeling particularly crafty, here is the exact recipe for the ink Jane Austen used, provided by her sister-in-law:
Take 4 ozs of blue gauls [gallic acid, made from oak apples], 2 ozs of green copperas [iron sulphate], 1 1/2 ozs of gum arabic. Break the gauls. The gum and copperas must be beaten in a mortar and put into a pint of strong stale beer; with a pint of small beer. Put in a little refin’d sugar. It must stand in the chimney corner fourteen days and be shaken two or three times a day.
This iron gall ink would then be applied to the page with an old-fashioned quill. But on the quality of the pages themselves, Austen was quite particular. One of her favorites was “a quarto stationer’s notebook… bound with quarter tanned sheep over boards sided with marbled paper. The edges of the leaves [were] plain cut and sprinkled red.”
Better find yourself some quarter tanned sheep. No self-respecting Austenite would be caught dead without a sheep leather notebook!
“I want to tell you that I have got my own darling child from London.”
These are the words Jane Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra 200 years ago, on January 29th, 1813. And the “darling child” she spoke of? None other than her firstborn novel, of course–Pride & Prejudice.
The novel was published just a day before, after many years of submissions to and rejections by various London publishers. Austen had completed the manuscript with its original title of “First Impressions” in 1797. From there, so many prospective publishers declined to even see the work that P&P underwent 14 years of heavy editing to become what it is today. At last, the editor Thomas Egerton bought the book for a meager £110, the equivalent of just $172 today.
Thankfully, as it is a truth universally acknowledged, Pride & Prejudice went on to become not only the “fashionable novel” of its time, but one of the most beloved (and borrowed) stories of English literature. 200 years on, it inspires everything from its explicit spin-offs (Death at Pemberley, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, etc), to the more subtly taken chick-lit and movie plots of today. And now, in the week of this milestone anniversary, a slew of articles dedicated to all things Austenesque. So feast your eyes on these literary nibbles, Darcy lovers:
Here’s another interesting couple of tidbits I came across today… Ever wondered what Austen’s contemporaries and fellow authors thought of her self-confessed “light, and bright, and sparkling” novel? It seems that Charlotte Brontë was none too impressed, though surprisingly it was on account of the novel’s lack of a characteristic landscape more than anything else:
Charlotte Brontë, in a letter to [the critic] Lewes, wrote that Pride and Prejudice was a disappointment, “a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers; but … no open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck.”
Meanwhile, in 1937 the poet W.H. Auden cheekily mused that Austen was far too experienced for a gentlewoman of her time and social standing:
You could not shock her more than she shocks me,
Beside her Joyce seems innocent as grass.
It makes me most uncomfortable to see
An English spinster of the middle class
Describe the amorous effects of ‘brass’,
Reveal so frankly and with such sobriety
The economic basis of society.
So there you have it, a few juicy details surrounding by far the greatest romance plot in British literature. But if you’d like to learn more, there are plenty of eNotes study guides for, you know, all that important academic stuff:
and much more on enotes.com!
Be on the lookout for ways to celebrate the anniversary in your area. With this many Austenites around the globe, there has got to be a Meryton ball somewhere nearby.
How will you celebrate 200 years of P&P?
Halloween draws near, and with it, the reminders of our own mortality. Ghosts and goblins are ways of coping with what George Bernard Shaw called “that troublesome business”: death. And, as Jim Morrison aptly noted, “No one here gets out alive.” So on that cheerful note, here are some of the last words of famous writers and images of their final resting places. At eNotes, we only haunt you with the very best!
1. Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961)
“Goodnight, my kitten.” ~ To his wife, before he shot and killed himself.
2. L. Frank Baum (May 15, 1856 – May 6, 1919)
“Now I can cross the shifting sands.” ~ Referring to the desert that surrounded his fictional city, Oz. Baum suffered a stroke from which he never recovered.
3. Dylan Thomas (27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
“I had eighteen straight whiskies…I think that’s a record.” While alcohol probably hastened the poet’s demise, new theories attribute undiagnosed pneumonia as the more likely cause of death.
4. James Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941)
“Does nobody understand?” No direct cause has ever been attributed to Joyce’s death but his heavy drinking almost certainly played a prominent role.
5. Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888)
“Is it not meningitis?” ~ It was not, actually. Alcott died as a result of mercury poisoning.
6. Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817)
“I want nothing but death.” ~ To her sister, Cassandra, inquiring if she wanted anything. (It has never been determined from what, exactly, the 41-year-old author succumbed to (speculations have included stomach cancer, Addison’s disease and bovine tuberculous) but the latest research suggests arsenic poisoning may have been the culprit.
7. Mark Twain (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910)
“Goodbye. If we meet…” ~ To his daughter, Clara. Twain died of a myocardial infraction (heart attack).
8. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ( 28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832)
“More light!” ~ The cause of Goethe’s death is unknown.
9. Henrik Ibsen (20 March 1828 – 23 May 1906)
“On the contrary!” ~ Ibsen’s response to his nurse, who remarked that he seemed better. Ibsen died as a result of complications from a stroke.
10. Hunter S. Thompson (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005)
“Relax — This won’t hurt.” ~ Thompson’s final line in his suicide note. The author shot himself. An iconoclast to the end, his widow said Thomas wanted to go out with a bang, and he did. On a platform he personally designed, Thompson had his ashes shot from a cannon to the music of Norman Greenbaum‘s “Spirit in the Sky” and Bob Dylan‘s “Mr. Tambourine Man.” You can watch a video of Thompson’s final farewell here.
Literature’s grumpiest quotes meet Tardar Sauce, the world’s grumpiest cat.
What other grumpy quotes could we make Tardar Sauce say?
Let’s get catankerous, people.