George Bernard Shaw’s Famous Writing Hut, Which Could Be Rotated 360 Degrees to Catch the Sun All Day

Sev­en decades after his death, George Bernard Shaw is remem­bered for his prodi­gious body of work as a play­wright, but also — and at least as much — for his per­son­al eccen­tric­i­ties: the then-unfash­ion­able tee­to­tal­ing veg­e­tar­i­an­ism, the rejec­tion of vac­cines and even the germ the­o­ry of dis­ease, the all-wool wardrobe. Thus, even those casu­al­ly famil­iar with Shaw’s life and work may not be ter­ri­bly sur­prised to learn that he not only had an out­build­ing in which to do his work, but an out­build­ing that could be rotat­ed 360 degrees. “Shaw’s writ­ing refuge was a six-square-meter wood­en sum­mer­house, orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed for his wife Char­lotte,” writes Idler’s Alex John­son. “Built on a revolv­ing base that used cas­tors on a cir­cu­lar track,” it was “essen­tial­ly a shed on a lazy Susan.”

The hut became a part of Shaw’s for­mi­da­ble pub­lic image in a peri­od of the ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry “when there was a grow­ing appre­ci­a­tion of idyl­lic rur­al set­tings — a knock-on effect of which was that peo­ple had gar­den build­ings installed. Shaw made the most of this move­ment, pro­mot­ing him­self as a reclu­sive thinker toil­ing in his rus­tic shel­ter, away from the intru­sions of press and peo­ple alike, while at the same time invit­ing in news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines and pos­ing for pho­tos.”

In 1929, “Shaw stood in front of his hut for a pho­to for Mod­ern Mechan­ics & Inven­tions mag­a­zine to pro­mote the idea of sun­light as a heal­ing agent.” Hence the impor­tance of rotat­ing to catch its rays all day long through win­dows made of Vita­glass, “a recent inven­tion that allowed UV rays to come through, let­ting, the mak­ers said, ‘health into the build­ing.’ ”

How­ev­er odd some of Shaw’s views and prac­tices, one can’t help but imag­ine that at least some of them con­tributed to his longevi­ty. The 1946 British Pathé news­reel above pays him a vis­it just a few years before his death at the age of 94, find­ing him still writ­ing (he still had the play Buoy­ant Bil­lions ahead of him, as well as sev­er­al oth­er mis­cel­la­neous works), and what’s more, doing so in his hut: “Like G. B. S. him­self,” says the nar­ra­tor, “it pre­tends to be strict­ly prac­ti­cal, with no non­sense about it.” Yet Shaw seems to have had a sense of humor about his the­o­ret­i­cal­ly hum­ble work­space, nam­ing it after the Eng­lish cap­i­tal so that unwant­ed vis­i­tors to his home in the vil­lage of Ayot St Lawrence could be told, not untruth­ful­ly, that he was in Lon­don. But one nat­u­ral­ly won­ders: when he rang up the main house with his in-hut tele­phone (anoth­er of its high­ly advanced fea­tures), did his house­keep­er say it was Lon­don call­ing?

via Messy Nessy

Relat­ed con­tent:

Roald Dahl Gives a Tour of the Small Back­yard Hut Where He Wrote All of His Beloved Children’s Books

The Cork-Lined Bed­room & Writ­ing Room of Mar­cel Proust, the Orig­i­nal Mas­ter of Social Dis­tanc­ing

Clas­sic Mon­ty Python: Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw Engage in a Hilar­i­ous Bat­tle of Wits

Who Wrote at Stand­ing Desks? Kierkegaard, Dick­ens and Ernest Hem­ing­way Too

The Dai­ly Habits of Famous Writ­ers: Franz Kaf­ka, Haru­ki Muraka­mi, Stephen King & More

When the Indi­ana Bell Build­ing Was Rotat­ed 90° While Every­one Worked Inside in 1930 (by Kurt Vonnegut’s Archi­tect Dad)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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