Saturday, August 30, 2008

mark twain's writing hut

“It is the loveliest study you ever saw...octagonal with a peaked roof, each face filled with a spacious window...perched in complete isolation on the top of an elevation that commands leagues of valley and city and retreating ranges of distant blue hills. It is a cozy nest and just room in it for a sofa, table, and three or four chairs, and when the storms sweep down the remote valley and the lighting flashes behind the hills beyond and the rain beats upon the roof over my head—imagine the luxury of it.”Mark Twain, Letter to William Dean Howells, 1874

Although it has always been called Mark Twain's Study, all us shedworkers know it was his writing hut! Designed like a Victorian era gazebo the study was an octagon in plan with a massive stone fireplace on one side opposite the door. The windows in the intervening walls were relatively small leaving space above inside for picture frames and display - they were the perfect height for viewing out while sitting at your desk. I believe these short double hung sash would disappear into the wall space above allowing you to throw the room open to the elements.

It currently sits on the campus of Elmira College in upstate New York - its not far from Corning or Watkins Glen if you ever wanted to plan a road trip. Student volunteers man the study while it is open for visits.

You can't help coming away feeling "I want one of these..."

“On hot days I spread the study wide open, anchor my papers down with brickbats and write in the midst of the hurricanes, clothed in the same thin linen we make shirts of. The study is nearly on the peak of the hill; it is right in front of the little perpendicular wall of rock left where they used to quarry stones. On the peak of the hill is an old arbor roofed with bark and covered with the vine you call the “American Creeper”—its green is almost bloodied with red. The Study is 30 yards below the old arbor and 100 yards above the dwelling-house—it is remote from all noises...”Mark Twain, Letter to Dr. John Brown, 187

Images and quotes from various sites:

Eric Rotsinger's (in photo above) Mark Twain site

PBS's Mark Twain Scrapbook

Elmira College's Mark Twain Studies Center

Mark Twain's study at Shedworking


  1. Hope this is the first in a long line of garden office posts!

  2. Indeed it is - i think the shed office is a great thing and I'm hoping more small office/home office workers consider it.


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