Miranda Seymour … To the Manor Born
Miranda Jane Seymour (born 8 August 1948) is an English literary critic, novelist, and biographer. Miranda Seymour was two years old when her parents moved into Thrumpton Hall, the family’s ancestral home in Nottinghamshire. She still lives and works in this wonderful residence which is now dually used by the family and for weddings and corporate events. She also has a home in London.
Miranda Seymour writes in the room on the very top floor of Thrumpton Hall that was once her nursery. There’s a delicious irony in that for the novelist and biographer, whose childhood memory of the room was of a place ‘very ghostly and frightening, very dark and dusty. It felt so remote,’ she remembers, ‘and I was very afraid. I was also imaginative, so I made up ghosts for myself and then believed it all.’ Now the very remoteness of the room is a blessing. ‘Nobody can really be bothered to climb up the five flights of stairs unless they really have something to communicate,’ she says. In 2009 she was a featured author in the Guardian’s Writers’ Rooms series.
I do most of my writing at a battered desk in the corner of my bedroom. I’ve slept in the same room, on and off, since I was 14 years old. The room is airy and peaceful. My desk faces a wall, but, if I turn and look out of the window, I can watch birds scooting about on the surface of the lake. At about five in the evening, there’s always an amazing din. It’s when the swans fly down to their nest by the bridge; the noise is the echo of their wings clapping against the water. And then the herons get going, all 20 of them, fighting over nest space up at the top of a group of willows. That’s usually a signal to stop writing and go for a walk. I like to start work early, but I’m no good at writing in the evenings..My desk is quite cluttered and very talismanic. I don’t start writing until I’ve done the research and got an idea pretty clear. When I sit down here, with my laptop, I’ve got my work pared down to a bunch of typed notes and a page of scribbles about the way the chapter or piece might take shape. It doesn’t always take that shape, but I like the reassurance.