It’s well known that some of the world’s foremost literary geniuses have some peculiar personalities and strange writing habits. We all have our quirks, but for men and women of the quill, these quirks are writ especially large. Some are hard drinkers and partiers, some are recluses waiting for inspiration to strike, still others are wildly productive but beset by personal demons. Even if you love someone’s books, do you ever wonder if could you actually live with the artist behind them?
Take this quiz and see which master wordsmith you should actually live with, and which might be a cohabitational nightmare. After all, there’s nothing like sharing a living space to help you really get know someone!
1. You and your ideal famous author roommate are decorating. What goes over the mantlepiece?
a. Mounted antlers from the prize buck you shot.<
b. A lavish 19th-century still-life painting of a bountiful feast.
c. A typewriter and some detective novels.
d. The first dollar you ever earned.
e. Eclectic artwork collected from your travels.
f. Ashtrays, empty bottles, pencil nubs, scrap paper.
2. What best describes your ideal housewarming party?
a. Grilling some meat, followed by bourbon, scotch, dry martinis, absinthe…
b. A costume ball with a ten course meal and wine pairings.
c. An afternoon garden party.
d. A rollicking dinner party with an impromptu reading from your new book.
e. A quiet gathering of friends with some good sherry and card games.
f. Something fabulous, with celebrities, artists, socialites and lots of gin.
3. It’s a random Tuesday night. You and your ideal roommate are:
a. Sparring in boxing gloves.
b. Living it up at the hottest restaurant in town.
c. You have no idea where your roommate is. She disappeared a few days ago.
d. Going for a long walk late into the night, hoping to get lost.
e. Doing crossword puzzles.
f. At the Plaza Hotel, holding court and gossiping with the jet-set crowd of New York.
4. You don’t mind if your apartment is full of:
c. Newspaper clippings of strange crimes
d. I would mind if my apartment were full of anything. I’m kind of a neat freak.
e. Books, art and good food.
f. Cigarette smoke and famous people.
5. What’s your work style?
a. “Done by noon, drunk by three.” In other words, efficient in the morning and then, not so much.
b. I work every spare second of the day on color-coded paper.
c. In the bathtub, munching apples. Or wherever the mood strikes me.
d. I’m always on the go. Walking helps me think.
e. I prefer to work in an empty room with nothing no distractions.
f. I can’t work unless I’m lying down, smoking and drinking.
If you chose mostly A’s, you should live with…Ernest Hemingway.
Nobel prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway was notoriously a “manly” man. An accomplished outdoorsman, he went on big-game hunting safaris in Africa and won marlin-fishing contests in the Caribbean. A passionate boxer, Hemingway built his own boxing ring in his Key West home to spar with guests and friends. In between these activities, Hemingway woke early each day to meet his self-imposed quota of 500 words. He wrote them standing up at his typewriter, and said he was always “done by noon, drunk by three.”
If you chose mostly B’s, you should live with…Alexandre Dumas.
The man behind The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo was an extravagant bon vivant, partial to elaborate feasts, wine and women. A gourmand and an accomplished cook, Dumas traveled extensively, hosted parties, entertained a string of mistresses and fathered many illegitimate children, yet he still managed to find time to write prolifically. He color-coded his writing on different kinds of paper, writing his fiction novels on blue paper, penning poetry on yellow paper and composing articles on pink.
If you chose mostly C’s, you should live with…Agatha Christie.
Best-selling mystery novelist Dame Agatha Christie, who penned Murder on the Orient Express and the play The Mousetrap, drew inspiration from newspaper articles about interesting true crimes. She’d clip them out and muse over them, eventually concocting an elaborate murder for Hercule Poirot or Miss Jane Marple to solve. She became the subject of a real life mystery herself when she abandoned her car and disappeared for 11 days. When found, Christie had no recollection of what she’d done and where she’d been. As a writer, Christie liked to think up her mysteries in the bathtub while eating apples. She wrote whenever the mood struck her and would set her typewriter down wherever she happened to be.
If you chose mostly D’s, you should live with…Charles Dickens.
Charles Dickens, author of classics such as Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, rose to fame and fortune from a hard-scrabble childhood in poverty. Thought to have obsessive-compulsive disorder, Dickens was known for combing his hair over a hundred times a day, cleaning his home obsessively, and even cleaning the homes of his friends. A gregarious and witty man, Dickens excelled at public speaking and enjoyed giving public readings of his books. An insomniac, Dickens spent his nights walking for miles at a time, hoping that the process of getting lost would inspire his creative juices.
If you chose mostly E’s, you should live with…Maya Angelou.
The recently departed Maya Angelou, who wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, freely shared her writing ritual with the world—she’d go to an empty hotel room every day, after requesting that the hotel staff remove any paintings, artwork or distractions from the room. She’d then stay in the room and write until 2 p.m. with only a Bible, a thesaurus, a bottle of sherry, a deck of cards and some crossword puzzles. At 2 p.m., she would return home and edit her morning’s work. Unlike her sparse hotel room, Angelou’s home was filled with artwork and books collected from her travels. She was not only a decorated writer, but a talented cook, dancer, singer, actress, and a prominent civil rights activist.
If you chose mostly F’s, you should live with…Truman Capote.
The author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood was known for his star-studded social life, his grand parties and his lifelong friendship with To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee. Capote famously threw the Black and White Ball, a masquerade ball at the Plaza Hotel that everybody who was anybody attended, unless Capote deliberately wanted to snub them. He ran with an eclectic mix of celebrities in New York, including actors, artists, socialites and business tycoons, but he was not partial to many fellow writers. Capote claimed to be a “completely horizontal author” and could only write lying down. He’d spend the day supine, drafting his work in longhand and in pencil, while armed with a cigarette and a drink. Even when writing on a typewriter, Capote preferred to remain horizontal and balance the machine on his knees.
Which of your favorite authors would you like to live with?