Graham Swift …

Graham Swift …


Graham Swift Photo: CLARA MOLDEN

Graham Swift (born 4 May 1949) is an award-winning English writer. His notable works include Shuttlecock (1981), Waterland (1983) and Last Orders (1996). Last Orders was winner of the 1996 Booker Prize.

He was a featured author in the Guardian’s Writers Rooms series in 2007.


Photograph: Eamonn McCabe

This is just the business end of an L-shaped room, and a lot that makes it for me – three walls of books, a Turkish rug, a mantelpiece to the right with bits and pieces on it and pictures above – is out of sight. The view from my back window isn’t very thrilling, but anyway I work with the blinds drawn, no matter what the weather or time of day. The time of day I like best is early morning. I rarely burn any midnight oil. I write in longhand, using the computer only in the later stages. I need the link with ink and the ability to cross out savagely. I’m a great user of the wastepaper bin.

The room was planned with thoughts of order and efficiency: no desk, just a fitted wooden surface running from wall to wall (you can’t have too much space), on top of four filing cabinets. In practice, I’m somewhere between neatness and total mess, with an increasing tendency towards enlightened disarray. I’ve come to the conclusion that the best system is just to shove things into piles and remember where they are. It’s surprisingly reliable and saves all the time and bother that goes with being more methodical. When all else fails, I depend on the Indian god Ganesh, who sits in front of the window and is the Remover of Obstacles. My wife calls the colour scheme “uterine red”, I call it “warm terra cotta”.

I’ve finished six novels in this room. I’m in it by such daily habit that I often don’t really notice it, but now and then I sit back (there’s also an armchair out of shot), look around at it and at the things it’s gathered over the years – the pictures, photos, oriental and African figures and carvings and, of course, the books – and think: this is a nice room to be in. The photo somehow disguises the fact that the heavy-duty floor covering badly needs replacing.

Writers Room article (2007) The Guardian

One response to “Graham Swift …

  1. Enjoyed reading about your room and writing style. Look forward to following your blog.

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