PD Smith at Kafka’s Mouse:
Do the houses once lived in by famous writers tell us anything about their work? After the Great War, Virginia Woolf and her husband paid £700 for Monk’s House in the Sussex village of Rodmell. It’s a simple, weather-boarded cottage beside a country lane.
Behind it was a garden and an orchard of overgrown pear and apple trees, with views over the flats of the Ouse valley. When they bought it, Monk’s House had no bath, no toilet, no hot water and just brick floors. Its previous owner had gone mad and starved himself to death. Virginia wrote: “We went to Rodmell, and the gale blew at us all day; off arctic fields; so we spent our time attending to the fire.” One morning they had to get up at 4 am to chase mice out of their bed. Today, few would put up with such conditions. But not Virginia; she loved the cottage and her “soft grey walks” in the surrounding countryside.