I had only the vaguest idea of who Manning Clark was (something about several volumes of Australian history?) before I visited Manning Clark House last Friday for informal drinks with the Friends of Manning Clark House - a fairly nerdy but genial bunch. The house is preserved as Manning and Dymphna (a translator of some note) left it, replete with their 10,000 volume library, which inhabits every spare inch of space at eye level and above. Tellingly, there is a bench in the kitchen where Dymphna apparently did her translating while cooking dinner for the many guests Manning brought unexpectedly home. His study, by contrast, is accessible only by a ladder, and commands several square feet and the best views in the house. This room contains probably half of the 10,000 books, as well as a large wooden desk that bears an inky mark in the shape of Clark's hand (he wrote with a quill and always blotted in the same place). The division of space made me reflect on Virginia Woolf's thoughts on room, and how women rarely got one of their own. When I probed my own ideas further, I realised that I, like most of western civilisation, tend to idealise the cloistered scholarly space, which has also traditionally been a male space; but perhaps there is something to be said for literary work undertaken in the thick of life as it is lived, in the full current of food, wine, conversation, family, community. Maybe the watermark in her work is more authentic than the inky one in his. Not being a mother of six children nor the wife of an eccentric academic, I should probably speculate no further.