Thursday, February 4, 2016

Famous Writers and Their Offices

I recently came across a story in Vanity Fair about Joan Didion and her rise to literary fame in LA.  She arrived in 1964 just shy of 30 years old, having recently married John Gregory Dunne.  Her first novel, Run River, was met with little success or fanfare, so she was out to meet and greet in Hollywood, hoping that her connections would lead to a healthy career.  And a blossoming career did come, much later- but I loved the image below, taken in her office with husband John by her side, before she became a well-known writer.  It got me thinking about other famous writers and what their offices looked like.

Joan Didion:

{Joan in her office, with husband John Greggory Dune}

"We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget." - Joan Didion


I love the photograph above taken of Joan and her husband, as well as their daughter Quintana.  Arguably her best work was her memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking.  Written after the death of her husband John, the book explores the tricks we play on our mind after we lose someone we love, and the process of bereavement.  It is one of my all-time favorite books.  

Truman Capote:

Truman famously wrote all his novels lying down, and even went so far to say that he was a "completely horizontal writer."   After rising to fame, he purchased a secluded house in the Hamptons and would often write from this wicker desk:


"No one will ever know what 'In Cold Blood' took out of me. It scraped me right down to the marrow of my bones. It nearly killed me. I think, in a way, it did kill me." - Truman Capote

Ernest Hemingway:

While Capote wrote horizontal, Ernest wrote best standing up: 

"Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up." - Ernest Hemingway


"All my life I've looked at words as if I were seeing them for the first time... It's none of their business that you have to learn to write.  Let them think you were born this way." - Ernest Hemingway

Stephen King:


“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.” - Stephen King

Nora Ephron:

The author behind "You've Got Mail", "Sleepless in Seattle", "When Harry Met Sally", and "Julia & Julia" was photographed below in her NYC home office:



"Maybe young women don't wonder anymore whether they can have it all, but in case any of you are wondering- of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but embrace the complications. It will not be like anything you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don't be frightened: you can always change your mind. I know- I've had 4 careers and 3 husbands." -Nora Ephron

"Summer bachelors, like summer breezes, are never as cool as they pretend to be." - Nora Ephron

Tom Wolfe:

Tom Wolfe is best known for pioneering "The New Journalist" literary movement, which sought to communicate facts through narrative storytelling.  He felt it was "possible to write journalism that read like a novel." In 1962 he began wearing a white suit year-round, which started a sensation.  Below, he is pictured in his office, sporting his signature look.  



"There are some people who have the quality of richness and joy in them and they communicate it to everything they touch.  It is first of all a physical quality; then it is a quality of the spirit." - Tom Wolfe

Happy Thursday!


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