Ten Writers who Thrived in Self-isolation

Literary creativity in isolation
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From little-known gems to iconic masterpieces, some great stories where conceived in solitary retreats. A choice for some, a necessity for others, these hideaways were frequently visited by a muse of inspiration, leaving a trail of new ideas in its wake. Attics, huts and remote country lodges became a sanctuary for many writers, who were able to tap into their talent away from distractions of the outer world.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

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“In 1845, Thoreau moved to a cabin that he built with his own hands along the shores of Walden Pond in Massachusetts. Shedding the trivial ties that he felt bound much of humanity, Thoreau reaped from the land both physically and mentally, and pursued truth in the quiet of nature. In Walden, he explains how separating oneself from the world of men can truly awaken the sleeping self. Thoreau holds fast to the notion that you have not truly existed until you adopt such a lifestyle—and only then can you reenter society, as an enlightened being.” 

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Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

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Pygmalion was an ancient Greek legend, who was a sculptor and a king. He fell in love with his ivory statue of his own ideal woman. He prayed. In response to his prayer, the Goddess gave life to the statue and then the king married it. 

In this rendition of an age old story, professor of linguistics Henry Higgins plucks a flower girl off the streets so as to teach her proper diction and middle class manners. After befriending Colonel Pickering, they wager that by the end of the lessons, the flower girl Eliza Doolittle, will be just as well-mannered as a duchess.”-Mwanamali

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The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

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This spellbinding tale comes from the bestselling author of Stardust and Coraline, both of which were turned made into major movies. The craftsman of alternative realities, Gaiman offers a glimpse into a parallel universe where ancient supernatural forces wreak havoc. The story is centred around a middle-aged man, whose unplanned visit to his hometown unleashes long-repressed memories of extraordinary events. At the tender age of seven, an unnamed protagonist becomes inextricable involved in the web of wickedness where he is forced to confront monsters, “hunger” birds and other evil spirits for his chance for survival. This beautifully written, poignant fable explores the wondrous dark world, childhood innocence and the power of human sacrifice leaving no heart untouched! 

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Family Happiness by Leo Tolstoy

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“To say that Tolstoy does not make marriage look tempting is an understatement. He conceives every possible thought and emotion two lovers may feel then leaves us hanging and unsatisfied at the end. Tolstoy seems to be teaching us that people change over the years with age and experience. Experience both hardens and softens us. It can also harden and soften marriage. This book is ultimately about unmet expectations of husband and wife. The joy of courtship is soon swallowed up by the disappointment of life. Gloom falls over them like storm clouds as their unspoken expectations are continually unmet. Their dialogues create tremendous tension, revealing burdens, barriers, and fears. But just as the rain stops at the end of the story, expressed disappointments seem to end as well. Husband and wife are changed, resigned to the fact that their former love is irretrievable and satisfied by what is left–acceptance of each other and of their situation. But the reader finishes unnerved and dissatisfied. Our expectations, perhaps influenced by hope or perhaps by Hollywood, are also unmet.”- Or.Doc

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King Lear by William Shakespeare

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Loosely based on the life of the legendary King Leir of Britain, the play explores a complex relationship between an ageing monarch and his three daughters. Determined to ease the burden of his royal duties, the title character decides to divide the realm among his female heirs, offering the largest share of his estate to the most loving daughter. Unable to flatter, the youngest daughter speaks bluntly and honestly about her feelings, infuriating her father. Driven by rage, the king disinherits Cordelia and orders her banishment. Cordelia’s misfortune offers some opportunities to her sisters, who take the full advantage of this familial disaster. Profoundly tragic, King Lear explores some intricate issues of cruelty, the wickedness of heart, the weakness of human nature, the all-forgiving love and kinship.

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Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

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“Mrs. Dalloway is ostensibly about a woman planning and hosting a party for the upper class of London in the 1920s. However, it’s stream of consciousness narration is far more than that. Flipping points of view relentlessly, almost organically, through the streets and byways of a few districts in London the book captures the internal monologues of a cross section of society. By the end of the novel, we have seen “Mrs. Dalloway” through the eyes of her admirers and detractors, as well as the “Clarissa Dalloway” that is haunted by the choices of her past and the anxieties of her present and future. The fact that these two Dalloways bear very little connection to each other appears to call out a thesis that our understanding of each other is based less on reality than on our own ego and fears.”- Jason Adams

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

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“A nineteenth-century boy from a Mississippi River town recounts his adventures as he travels down the river with a runaway slave, encountering a family involved in a feud, two scoundrels pretending to be royalty, and Tom Sawyer’s aunt who mistakes him for Tom.”

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The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

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Written during the World War II by a Jewish girl who spends her last years in hiding from Nazi persecution, this remarkable memoir blends together the atrocious details associated with war as well as the emotional turmoil of adolescence. For Anne, her diary represents an outlet in which she could commit her innermost thoughts – the guardian of her secrets. Discovered by accident, the diary was not intended for general public, which added authenticity and uniqueness to the story. This compelling and deeply-moving account is a reminder of the high price the mankind was forced to pay for its freedom.

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1984 by George Orwell

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If you have ever wondered what a crystal ball séance might feel like, then look no further. George Orwell’s gaze into the future will offer a goosebumps-worthy portrayal of the world at the end of the twentieth century. In the totalitarian state of Oceania, where every move is controlled by an all-seeing eye of Big Brother, disobedience comes with deadly consequences. There will come a time when anyone who dares to challenge the authorities will face the choice between suicide or a life in shackles. Immersive and terrifying, this anti-utopian tale is brimming with elusive freedom, manipulation, privacy violation and other hair-raising prophecies that still ring true for most facets of modern life. 

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Tales of The Unexpected by Roald Dahl

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If you have ever wondered what sinister plans might lurk in the hearts of men driving the powers of darkness, then Tales of The Unexpected might hold the answers you have been searching for. From deceiving wine connoisseurs and shameless philanders to obsessive social climbers, the villains baffle the readers with their ingenuity. Dahl’s signature style effortlessly delivers a delectably morbid ending by injecting a lethal twist into ordinary life stories turning them into alarmingly disturbing tales of terror. The master of subtle implications, Roald Dahl concocts his own brand of sparklingly wry black humour that seeps from the very first pages of this critically-acclaimed bestseller.

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Stella is a Marketing Consultant and has been writing content for Full Text Archive since 2015. When she is not writing, she is meticulously planning our social and e-mail campaigns. Stella holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Russian Literature, which has provided a broad foundation from which she continues to explore the written world.

She spends her free time reading, visiting old castles and discovering new coffee shops. She can be reached at stella

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