You Could Write in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Former Portland Home Studio

The Le Guin family has donated the science fiction novelist’s former house to be used for a new writers residency

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Ursula K. Le Guin in 2005. Dan Tuffs/Getty Images

Ursula K. Le Guin, the celebrated novelist known for her envelope-pushing science fiction, wrote most of her books in her Portland, Oregon home. She penned classics such as The Books of Earthsea, The Dispossessed, and The Left Hand of Darkness in her home writing studio, which was once the nursery for her three children.

Now, that room is available for the next generation of writers to work on their own books.

The Le Guin family has donated the author’s former home to Literary Arts, a nonprofit organization in Portland, for it to be used as the site of a new writers residency. The Ursula K. Le Guin Writers Residency will offer select writers the chance to hone their craft while living in the house.

“Our conversations with Ursula and her family began in 2017,” Andrew Proctor, the executive director of Literary Arts, says in a statement. “She had a clear vision for her home to become a creative space for writers and a beacon for the broader literary community.”

According to Associated Press reporter Hillel Italie, residents will be chosen by a council of literary professionals, along with a member of the Le Guin family. The year-round residency will house a single writer at a time, and the length of individual stays may vary.

In addition to working on their writing, residents “will be asked to engage with the local community in a variety of literary activities, such as community-wide readings and workshops,” the organization tells the AP.

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Science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin poses for a portrait in her house in Portland, Oregon, on July 5, 2001. Beth Gwinn/Getty Images

“Collaboration and homecoming are at the heart of Ursula’s writing,” Theo Downes-Le Guin, the author’s son, says in a statement. “Although her reputation is international, she focused much of her energy on the local community of writers, libraries and literary organizations. So, it’s fitting that this residency, ambitious in the breadth of writers it reaches, is nevertheless rooted in the house and city she loved and lived in for a half century.”

Applications have not opened yet, and no date has been announced for the residency to start, but Literary Arts has launched a fundraising campaign to maintain the house and open an office in town.

Le Guin was born in Berkeley, California in 1929. She married historian Charles Le Guin in 1953, and the couple moved to Portland together. Le Guin began writing full-time in the late 1950s, and achieved major critical and commercial success in the late ’60s with science fiction novels such as A Wizard of Earthsea. She died in 2018 at age 88,

The writer was “very present and accessible as a parent,” her son, Downes-Le Guin, tells the AP. “She was very intent on not burdening her children with her career.” But when it came time for Le Guin to enter her writing studio, “we knew that we needed to let her have her privacy,” he adds.

The Le Guin family lived in a 19th century house in northwest Portland, built from a Sears & Roebuck catalog plan, per Portland Tribune reporter Jason Vondersmith. At the time, the neighborhood was home to artists, academics and working class families. The author’s former writing studio offers a view of a towering redwood tree planted by the family—a nod to her California roots—and, off in the distance, Mount St. Helens.

The room, along with the rest of the house, will be available for selected residents to use at their leisure. Downes-Le Guin says he doesn’t want the storied space to intimidate anyone.

“I wouldn’t want anyone to be in there in this constant state of reverence,” he tells the AP, “which would be against the spirit of the residency.”

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