What indeed! Sheldon even rented an Italian castle in which he wrote one of his novels. Are you green with envy yet?
It started a discussion between James and myself about writer's workspaces. We quite frankly do our best work (and play!) between the sheets, so we know the importance of atmosphere to creativity! And then we happened to come across a rather nice spot. Just the sort of ramshackle country home one could retire to, right?
A ramshackle country home, hmmm? This is the Chateau de Chillon, near Montreaux, Switzerland. The place has something of a fairy tale look to it, set on a rocky islet in Lac Leman, built in a way that makes it look as if it's floating on the water. The earliest parts of the castle can be dated back a thousand years, and it's thought that the site might have been in use much longer. The House of Savoy (otherwise known as the Savoy Cabal) got hold of it back in the twelfth century, and much of the present medieval structure dates back to that early period. These days it's owned by the local canton, and it draws in the tourists.
It's certainly not all fairy tales and magic dust. There are dungeons carved right into the rock itself at the foundations, and in fact during the Reformation, Francois Bonivard, a local official in favour of the religious schism, was held captive on the site between 1530 and 1536. Lord Byron, in between his usual debaucheries (this is a poet who'd shag anyone in a skirt or pants, including his half-sister), paid a visit to the place (and left graffiti behind) and incorporated the story into a poem, The Prisoner of Chillon.
|Lord Byron's Parting Gift To The Dungeons|
Other authors came in Byron's wake through the 19th century, and the success of the Chateau in drawing in visitors is due to the attention they gave it. Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, Percy Shelley, and more have wandered through the buildings and corridors that make up the castle, writing about it, shedding light on the place, and the end result is that even today, anyone doing the grand tour of Europe will be drawn to finding their way there. It's just the expected thing to do.