My well-travelled writing desk

May 16, 2024 | 2 comments |

On X (formerly Twitter), Welsh author friend Tracy Rees posted recently that she has two desks, an “expensive oak-topped one” and a “cheap self-assembly one” she built twenty-three years ago and has “carried…from house to house…ever since.”

I too have several desks but do most of my writing on an also “cheap self-assembly” desk. It’s one I bought as a postgraduate student at University College London in *mumble mumble* (but more than twenty-three) years ago!

I got my desk in the summer sales at what was then British modern home designer Habitat’s flagship store on London’s Tottenham Court Road.

And like Tracy, my sturdy black modular, steel desk has also travelled with me from house to house.

It has crossed the Atlantic between England and Canada three times.

In England, and from student days to my adult professional life I’ve written on it in five London neighbourhoods and a Berkshire village.

My desk has travelled three-quarters of the way across Canada and been with me in homes in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Ottawa and now small-town Eastern Ontario.

It also travelled to Victoria, British Columbia when, in a move between Edmonton, Alberta and Ottawa some of my furniture was accidentally sent farther west in Canada instead of east.

I’ve had this desk longer than I’ve been married, and it has outlasted multiple pieces of computer equipment and ergonomic chairs.

After all these years, my desk is both cherished friend and part of who I am.

I’ve sat at it in times of writerly celebration, despair and everything in between.

From cradling an infant English Rose while trying to meet a then day-job deadline, to my now grown daughter using it for her own work Zoom calls, this desk is also part of my family.

Although I can and often do write elsewhere, the words seem to flow better here at the desk that’s been a constant in so many seasons of my life. I’ve written parts of all my books at it as well as essays and a thesis.

I’m currently halfway through writing the first draft of The Teacher Evacuees, the start of my new WW2 British home front women’s fiction series out in 2025.

And as I visit 1940s England in my imagination, my English desk is part of that journey and it—and I—have come almost full circle.

As for Tracy Rees who inspired this post? If you haven’t yet discovered her wonderful books (she writes both historical and contemporary fiction), find out more on her website here.


  1. Heidi Vanstone

    How lovely that a “cheap self-assembly” desk has served you so well. These days, long-lasting furniture (and appliances!) are a dying breed. So glad you have a “trusty” place to be creative! I am quite fond of my own desk, although it has been given to one of the children, because of the family history associated with it.

  2. Laura Tapper

    What a lovely piece and a fascinating insight into your writer’s journey. It’s very true to the war time maxim drummed into me as a child: ‘waste not, want not’. In our throw away world, it’s a lesson in the concept that something might only be able to develop its full value if we allow it to stay in our lives for long enough. As a writer, teacher and student who has never used a desk, I was also delighted to read about yours. Thanks for sharing, Jen ????


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