“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction,” Virginia Woolf wrote in a famous 1929 essay.
British businessman Arron Banks apparently disagrees, and he incurred the wrath of fans of “Harry Potter” creator J.K. Rowling after mocking the author on Twitter for having a writing room.
The controversy started after Rowling angrily criticized British Prime Minister Theresa May for opposing a second referendum on Britain leaving the European Union.
“I swear to God I’m trying not to bang on about #Brexit but ... every time I come out of my writing room and look at the news some more dumbassery has been committed,” Rowling tweeted. “THE WHOLE POINT OF DEMOCRACY IS THE FREEDOM TO CHANGE YOUR OPINION WHEN THE CIRCUMSTANCES CHANGE.” In addition to all caps, Rowling’s original tweet contains profanity.
Banks, a Brexit supporter, retweeted Rowling’s post, adding, “Writing room! Could you be any more pretentious.”
Banks’ tweet drew the ire of authors who didn’t see anything wrong with writers having a place to work.
So did science fiction writer and L.A. Times critic-at-large John Scalzi, who came to Rowling’s defense.
Some yutz is calling @jk_rowling "pretentious" for having a writing room? One, lots of writers have writing rooms; all you need is a spare room in the house. Two, when you've sold 500 million books, it's not actually pretension to have a room to write in. She's kinda earned it.— John Scalzi (@scalzi) December 1, 2018
Fantasy author Neil Gaiman also jumped in to support Rowling, showing droll-worthy photos of two writing rooms he has had.
I've had a "writer's room" since 1985, and the first house we were renting, when I was still a journalist. It's the room you do the work in. The idea that you don't get a room to work in is the same as the idea that writing isn't work. https://t.co/4e7EBnLj0Y— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) December 1, 2018
My current writing room: it's a cabin in the woods. Most days I look up from writing to see deer, chipmunks or even bears wandering, scurrying, or lumbering past. It's a good place to work, because if you are a writer people don't always leave you alone to write. pic.twitter.com/FuNNQu6RW2— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) December 1, 2018
Master of horror Stephen King revealed that he works from an office, tweeting, “Like J.K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman, I have a writing room. Actually, it’s a one-room studio. There’s even a couch.” (His tweet includes Rowling’s original with profanity).
As if being slammed by scores of bestselling authors wasn’t enough, Dictionary.com got in on the action, questioning Banks’ word choice. “Perhaps you meant portentous? It means marvelous and amazing,” the publisher wrote.
Other writers also posted pictures of their writing rooms in support of Rowling.
This is my writing room.— Josh Melican (@jmmelican) December 2, 2018
It’s a window-less box about 1.6m (5’) square which on the house plans is listed as a ‘store’.
I don’t quite have the publishing history of King, Rowling, Gaiman or Scalzi, but I guess this makes me pretentious like them. pic.twitter.com/e4Tx8BTQnP
This is my "writing room". When I started full-time, I'd internalized the nonsense about not deserving one, but my husband insisted, and he turned our spare room into this. TCD wouldn't be the book it is today without this room. I desperately needed it and definitely deserved it. pic.twitter.com/V7J8GkNJ3j— Emily Suvada (@emilysuvada) December 2, 2018
Rowling herself responded to Banks with a tweet in Russian that translates as “Yeah, but this man is already modest nowhere — he does not invest money in writing rooms, but in expensive lunches with suspiciously rich Russians.”
Banks seemed untroubled by the attention he received, tweeting in response to Stephen King, “I’ve have [sic] a library, study and a tower but I don’t say ‘I’m leaving my library to tweet on Brexit’ unless of course I’m a pretentious luvvie.”
And when a Twitter user suggested that Banks read Virginia Woolf’s essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” he responded, “It won’t surprise you to know that I’m not that interested in safe spaces for feminist authors.”