Writers Rooms : David Starkey
Starkey offers this commentary:
The room is in an 18th-century house and was fitted out by one of the more bizarre figures of mid-20th-century British public life, Sir Hughe Montgomery Knatchbull-Hugessen. Hugessen retired here in disgrace to write his family memoirs. He did so in this room, and I have a copy of the book on the shelves he built. Ive written on Apple Macs since the early 80s – they’re lovely to use and beautiful to look at. But I still use as the basis of my writing the 4,000 record cards of the Biographical Index to the Court of Henry VIII that I made when I was a research student 40 years ago.
There are some joke cards on the shelves – my favourite is one sent to me by my former producer on my Talk radio show, with a City fat cat reclining in his desk chair saying “Oh sorry, I must have dialled my salary by mistake”. She sent it to me immediately after I’d signed my Monarchy contract with Channel 4. It’s an awful reminder of the temptation to sell out.
I organise my work in the form of a daily diary. Each chapter is strictly chronological but is also monothematic – say, a war, a set of peace negotiations, a joust. I normally begin my first paragraph just before I break for lunch and then work solidly through the afternoon. I start cooking supper at about half past five or six and then go back to the Mac for a final blitz before drinks.