Rooms of their own by Alex Johnson | Book Review


Rooms of their own
written by Alex Johnson and illustrated by James Oses

I recently purchased this book after reading the blurb and quickly flipping through it to find stunning illustrations. I was drawn in by the promise of learning about where writers write and the beauty of the illustrations that accompany the text. 

Illustration by James Oses
Permission to use given by Alex Johnson 

I really love the writing style within this book, it is informative without feeling like you are reading a text book, almost like you are listening to a friend talk about a subject they are passionate about. There is a real variety of authors featured, all well known and most well loved. I will admit to not knowing all of them but even reading about those I found interesting. It was great to read about authors famous for their work many years ago, some who have since passed on, but also authors who are still writing and publishing their work to this day. 

Illustration by James Oses
Permission to use given by Alex Johnson 

The layout of the book is brilliant too, mixed in with the information about specific authors are pages of interesting quotes and snippets of information about topical subjects like rejection letters and word counts. This is a book you can either read from cover to cover or flip through the sections as and when you have time to. You could also use the index to find and read about the authors you are most interested in. I really love how this book has been put together with illustrations, rather than photographs, of the authors spaces. Such a clever thing to do, it makes the book one you want to keep on display, maybe on the coffee table to spark up conversation with friends and family who visit. 

Illustration by James Oses
Permission to use given by Alex Johnson 

Description (from Gardners)
Rooms of Their Own travels around the world examining the unique spaces, habits and rituals in which famous writers created their most notable works. The perennial question asked of all authors is, 'How do you write?'. What do they require of their room or desk? Do they have favourite pens, paper or typewriters? And have they found the perfect daily routine to channel their creativity? Crossing centuries, continents and genres, Alex Johnson has pooled 50 of the best writers and transports you to the heart of their writing rooms - from attics and studies to billiard rooms and bathtubs.

Discover the ins and outs of how each great writer penned their famous texts, and the routines and habits they perfected. Meet authors who rely on silence and seclusion and those who need people, music and whisky. Meet novelists who travel half-way across the world to a luxury writing retreat, and others who just need an empty shed at the bottom of the garden.

Some are particular about pencils, inks, paper and typewriters, and some will scribble on anything - including the furniture. But whether they write in the library or in cars, under trees, private islands, hotel rooms or towers - each of these stories confirms that there is no 'best way' to write. From James Baldwin, writing in the small hours of the morning in his Paris apartment, to DH Lawrence writing at the foot of a towering Ponderosa pine tree, to the Bronte sisters managing in a crowded co-working space, this book takes us into the lives of some of history's greatest ever writers, with each writing space illustrated in evocative watercolour by James Oses.

In looking at the working lives of our favourite authors, bibliophiles will be transported to other worlds, aspiring writers will find inspiration and literature fans will gain deeper insight into their most-loved authors.

Star rating: 
5 stars *****
Highly recommend this book. 

This book is available to purchase here on the Betty's Books website or here on