We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Escritoire?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At HomeQuestionsAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An escritoire, also called a secretary desk, is a French term for a writing desk with a hinged top. There are several different styles of the desk, both portable and freestanding. The style became quite popular throughout Europe in the from the 16th century onward and remains a highly-sought antique furnishing. Modern reproductions are often available in a variety of styles.

Some types of escritoire are large versions of lap desks. They frequently feature a top that rolls down, revealing inner compartments. Most antique versions feature compartments for writing instruments of the time: sand, quills, ink, parchment and blotting paper. Modern versions typically feature secure places for pens and paper.

The small versions of the desk became popular with travelers, officers, and teachers throughout Europe. Celebrated British author Charlotte Bronte penned letters and even possibly some of Jane Eyre using a portable escritoire that still exists in photographs. In wartime, gentleman officers used the writing desk to write out troop orders and send loved ones accounts of the hell of war.

As fashions progressed, the once simple escritoire became a positive fiesta of decoration and adornments. Heavily carved in weighty Baroque embellishments, the desk soon became too large for easy travel. Standing escritoire styles often feature several small drawers above a flat writing surface. The top typically rolls or hinges down, and can be locked to ensure privacy or prevent mess. Many standing models also contain secret or concealed drawers, some that may require a second key to unlock.

Escritoires have carried a reputation of mystery and secrets with them since their inception. The secret compartments, hidden drawers, and locking front all suggest that this piece of furnishing is meant for illicit, or at least, highly interesting information. In literature, the escritoire often holds the secrets of nearly everything, from the great-grandmother's will to records of exactly when the affair between the governess and the master began. Authors and writers tend to get carried away in the romance of the escritoire; Kierkegaard, writing under a pseudonym, claimed that the texts presented in Either/Or were found in an escritoire.

Perhaps because of this highly naughty reputation, the secretary desk has remained a popular piece of furniture today. Although people are more likely to rest their laptop on the writing surface than their finest peacock quill pen, modern reproductions are often available from furniture stores and even companies specializing in inexpensive prefabricated furnishings. Whether stashing love letters under lock and key or merely finding a place to keep all the bills separate, the escritoire remains a useful and beautiful style of furnishing with a long and romantic history.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for HomeQuestionsAnswered. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

Discussion Comments

Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
Read more
HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.