Writers' Rooms: Theories of Contemporary Authorship in Portraits of Creative Spaces

  • Claire Battershill (University of Reading)


This article analyzes two series of photographs and essays on writers’ rooms published in England and Canada in 2007 and 2008. The Guardian’s Writers Rooms series, with photographs by Eamon McCabe, ran in 2007. In the summer of 2008, The Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival began to post its own version of The Guardian column on its website by displaying, each week leading up to the Festival in September, a different writer’s “writing space” and an accompanying paragraph. I argue that these images of writers’ rooms, which suggest a cultural fascination with authors’ private compositional practices and materials, reveal a great deal about theoretical constructions of authorship implicit in contemporary literary culture. Far from possessing the museum quality of dead authors’ spaces, rooms that are still being used, incorporating new forms of writing technology, and having drafts of manuscripts scattered around them, can offer insight into such well-worn and ineffable areas of speculation as inspiration, singular authorial genius, and literary productivity.

Keywords: writing spaces, desks, rooms, contemporary authorship, authorship in popular media

How to Cite:

Battershill, C., (2014) “Writers' Rooms: Theories of Contemporary Authorship in Portraits of Creative Spaces”, Authorship 3(2). doi:

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Published on
28 Nov 2014
Peer Reviewed