Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Francis Wheen's shed disaster

Biographer, essayist and Private Eye deputy editor Francis Wheen suffered what all shedworkers dread last month, the total destruction of his (two-storey) timber shed by fire. In addition to the garden office's demise, the flames also took with them his library of books, letters and other papers, including an unfinished novel and CDs. We mentioned it on the Shedworking Facebook page but didn't go into details here because they were so scanty. Filling us in on the detail is a nice piece on openDemocracy by Wheen's partner Julia Jones. It appears that the various electronic equipment may have caused the fire. Here's a snippet:
"The destruction of a library – or a lifetime time’s work (to date) – is a pivotal event. In Francis’s case I’m guessing that Friday 13 April 2012 will be felt as a demarcation point on many different levels – not least his (and our) attitude to paper. The neatly stacked print-out of his novel-in-progress could not ensure its survival any more than the back-up copy on the memory stick in his desk drawer. Cue: sudden family conversion to remote forms of storage. I use Dropbox: He is now emailing every day’s new work to a location somewhere in the vaults of the Google Empire."
More photos of the catastrophe at Do Authors Dream Of Electric Books and here's Wheen on Radio 4 discussing the nightmare himself.
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  1. Do you mind if I re-post this on my blog?

  2. This is truly horrible and the loss and grief must be overwhelming. But it does highlight the importance of a garden office or studio being built with half hour fire resistance, fireproofed plasterboard and insulation and smoke alarmed.