As Professor of Early Modern History at the University of York, London-born Stuart Carroll has written numerous books, including the acclaimed Martyrs and Murderers: the Guise Family and the Making of Europe, and has twice been awarded the Nancy Roelker prize for the best essay on early modern French history. In other words, he has done a great deal of research about power struggles, treachery, rulers overthrown in bloody battles, and religious bigotry volatile enough to spark wars. Things are much, much calmer in his office.
What does your desk—the bare desk itself—look like, and how did you acquire it?
It’s a nondescript functional modern desk, such as you’d find in millions of offices throughout the world. It has a curved front so that I can swivel my chair, and four drawers.
What’s on your desk?
PC, books for reading and review, piles and piles of papers, mainly related to my departmental administrative duties, and research materials.
What do you wish wasn’t on your desk?
Piles and piles of papers related to my departmental administrative duties.
I have two sixteenth-century maps of France on the walls, a German print illustrating the true nature of friendship (I’m just as interested in religious coexistence and tolerance as violence) and quite a few postcards related to places I’ve visited in the course of my research.
Are there living things in your office (besides yourself)?
No. Although, on returning from holiday one year, I became very frustrated at the large number of wasps dive-bombing me. It was only after a few days that I discovered their nest behind the curtains, which they had built while I was away. This just goes to show that the even academic life has its dangers.
What else surrounds you?
Coffee machine (essential), clothes stand with suit and shirts (I cycle to work and wear these clothes only for meetings), and swimming and tennis kit (for the maintenance of sanity during the working day).
What’s on the walls?
See above, and also pictures of my wife and two boys (ten and six). Several pictures by the kids, including one for Father’s Day, which has a picture of me with the caption “Superdad” underneath. It should be pointed out that this “Superdad” has an overly large midriff, or beer belly as the boys call it, and £1,000 notes sticking out of his pockets. I’d also like to point out that both of these images are gross misrepresentations. This reminds me that I must stop them watching The Simpsons. Another picture seems to be of me blasting off in a rocket. I say “seems to” because the rocket appears to be on my head. Lots of pictures of my eldest son playing what you call soccer, most of which relate to the greatest team in the world: Aviva under-10s, who play in the York Mitchell Junior league.
What have you lost in your office that you really wish you could find?
Yes, there is a memory stick Bermuda Triangle in the office. Search parties have been sent out in the past never to return…
What tools do you write with?
Is anyone allowed to come in and clean?
Someone is paid to.
T. Myers is a writer whose office cleaning project has encountered a mysterious work stoppage.