Here, journalist, travel writer and historian William Dalrymple describes his surroundings, routine, and the quiet, personal quirks that allow him to write. His new book, The Return of a King: The First Anglo-Afghan War and the Birth of the Great Game, will be published by Bloomsbury in December.
I have two desks—one inside and one outside. Journalism, letters, e-mails are written on the one inside. This is in my study, a book-lined bunker on the ground floor, with a fan overhead for summer, and fireplace for winter. It is a bit of a mess: books, bronze Shaivite heads, photos, CDs and small ivory miniatures are muddled up in an avalanche of unopened post. But no real writing—that is to say, no book-writing—ever takes place here.