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Famous garden office workers - what you can learn from them

The image of the worker retreating from the world to focus their intellect and creativity on a project is as relevant now as it has been for centuries, which is why the writer's shed and modern garden office continue to be popular.

Part of what makes the garden office so evocative is the part such rooms have played in the lives of famous writers - so who are these garden workers and what can you learn from their sheds and offices?

Roald Dahl

His literary work - both for kids and adults - continues to entertain generations of readers and for 30 years Roald Dahl famously worked from his Gypsy House in the garden of his Buckinghamshire home. The little white-brick building with a yellow door had everything he needed (comfy arm chair with a board across it for writing, sleeping bag to keep his legs warm, footstool, desk, etc.) and despite how messy it became, he insisted that no one else was allowed in.

Lesson: Your garden office can be your own space - you don't have to share...

Philip Pullman

The author of the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy - among other critically acclaimed literary works - was another fan of the writing shed concept. Philip Pullman's peculiarity was that he did not want it to be cleaned, as he believed the cobwebs and dust fuelled his creativity.

Lesson: This space is your own, so do with it as you please...

Virginia Woolf

As one of the most famous and influential female writers of the 20th century, Virginia Woolf legacy is one to admire. She did much of her work in the Lodge Writing Shed at her home in Sussex - yet when fellow members of the Bloomsbury Group came to call, EM Forster, TS Eliot et al would congregate in the main house.

Lesson: A room of one's one is important and need not be a social hub as well...

George Bernard Shaw

The garden office that George Bernard Shaw retired to was called London, so that when people came to call at the house in St Albans visitors could be told 'Sorry, he is currently in London'! Another memorable aspect of his hut was that it was built on a rotating mechanism, so that he could turn the building according to where the sun shone at that moment.

Lesson: When you go to build your shed or office, take into account the position of the sun over the course of the day...

Dylan Thomas

This iconic poet had a lovely - and fairly large - hut at his home in Wales that looked out over the water, but the space had originally been used as a garage. He covered the walls with articles, pictures and other cuttings that inspired him or aided his writing.

Lesson: The use of a shed can change over time - and its decoration can be an asset...

Henry David Thoreau

The writer of philosophical masterpiece 'Walden' built his shed with his own hands and lived in it for years. The hut was put together in the middle of the Massachusetts woodland - the aim was to get away from the distractions of modern living in the 19th century.

Lesson: Your garden retreat should be a place that gets you away from life's distractions; make no apologies for its solitary nature...

Date: 21/10/2013 | Author: Paul Smithson