Friday, 24 July 2015

George Bernard Shaw's writing hut

This is the interior of the writing hut where George Bernard Shaw wrote many of his plays.

I read recently that the 'swankiness' of a kitchen is inversely proportional to the amount of cooking that takes place inside it.  Shaw's writing hut proves perhaps that the rule applies more universally. In this simplest of sheds, he wrote prolifically for decades and produced an inspiring body of work.

My desire to create the perfect writing space may, it seems, be counter-productive.  The message is: write, wherever and however you can.

I saw the hut first on a TV programme: 'Shed of the Year'.  It was entered in the 'Historic Shed' category.  It didn't win.  Not 'swanky' enough, I'd say.

Look again though, and those of us who have failed so far to produce 60 plays, 5 novels, collections of short stories and essays amongst the bags of compost and broken pots in our garden sheds, may feel we can cut ourselves some slack.  Shaw's shed, - sorry, writing hut -, may be small and simple, but it is perfectly equipped.  Behind the chair, out of view, there is even a small day bed for a creative nap!  Swap the typewriter for a laptop and what more would you need?

I like to think the phone was for ringing the main house and requesting a cup of Assam tea, but I may be wrong.  Certainly, I would not recommend bringing into the shed its modern equivalent - a mobile - therein lies the route to distraction and procrastination and rarely to the aforementioned 60 plays, five novels and so on!

My favourite item on the desk is the golden monkey.  I believe he sharpened pencils for Shaw, but if he were on my desk, he would be required to listen attentively as I read out loud my latest lines.    
Humble though it appears, Shaw's shed is also perfectly located, tucked at the bottom of his country garden in the small village of Ayot St Lawrence.  Surrounded by Hertfordshire countryside, it feels remote even today: the perfect hideaway from distraction.  The shed's piece de resistance?  It can be swivelled around to catch the sun!    
We missed visiting the inside of the house as it is closed for re-wiring until 19 August 2015.  We did, however, use the throne-like toilet at the side of the house to which Shaw himself perhaps repaired now and again.  On its capacious seat, one could easily write a poem or two!    
Looking for inspiration
It's a lovely place to visit.  Shaw himself was clearly very happy here.  Of it he wrote:
This my dell and this my dwelling.
Their charm so far beyond my telling.
That though in Ireland by my birthplace.
Here shall be my final earthplace.
For more information about visiting see here.


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