I can’t write unless the typewriter is rattling
Happy Typewriter Day!
On this day in 1868, Christopher Latham Sholes received a patent for his “Type-Writer,” which featured a QWERTY keyboard for the first time. As a result, today is International Typewriter Day.
Reason I’m writing this hoofwise is because my typewriter had hysterics yesterday and would print nothing but 00000000 (sheer negativism) so I had to take it to be fixed.
Letter to Don Bachardy
24th October 1968
(From The Animals: Love Letters Between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy.)
I have just read the preceding page and doubt that I shall send it. The truth is I cannot write on a typewriter; I make enemies whenever I do; ladies are insulted; gentle men furious: old friendships are broke off. But then as you cant read my hand writing-one must risk it. Its very odd how it rigidifies the mind; as if ones hands were half numb. This is the reason why instead of being ablaze with brilliance, wit, profundity, news, of every kind, it is flat as a charwomans back. One cant correct, thats it. Also it pecks one along like a hen.
Letter to Quentin Bell
5th June 1928
(From The Letters of Virginia Woolf: Volume 3.)
You may notice that I have a new typewriter. We have never had a good one in our lives. Always something of about nineteen twelve. But after we saw this play was going to run a week at least, we went out and got a new one, well—a nearly new one. And look what it has—! n’. A tilda, an exclamation and a grave accent. Or rather an acute. I don’t know where to use a grave and nobody knows where to use a circumflex so we didn’t get them. But isn’t it beautiful? I hadn’t realized that science had done so much while I worked on the 1912 model. This is so wonderful that I just write the first letter and the machine spells the rest of the word out. It is going to be a great boon to my spelling. You will notice too that this letter is longer than usual. That is because I can push down these keys with one hand instead of standing up and using both hands.
Letter to McIntosh and Otis
(From Steinbeck: A Life in Letters.)
this is a victory typewriter, the letters jump around and i doubt if it will endure the duration, if it gets much worse i will probably have to use a small pool-cue to hit the keys to get them to contact the paper.
Letter to Mrs. Rattray
4th August 1935
(From Fred Allen: Letters.)
My own typewriter is broken and this borrowed one has so many wretched individual traits that my mind is half occupied all the time I'm writing with the malignancy of the machine and I haven't been able to re-write the other story I was going to send you or do anything new.
Letter to Maxwell Perkins
6th December 1926
(From Selected Letters 1917-1961.)
I do admire the way you WRITE—I mean instead of using a typewriter. It is partly because of rheumatism and partly because of illegibility & partly because of a (false) idea of “time” that I type. I don’t really burble on nearly as much when I write with a pen.
Letter to Frankenberg
8th January 1972
(From One Art: Letters.)
I do not regard typing as a discourtesy. Anyway, I usually type, since my ‘hand’ tends to start fair and rapidly fall away into picturesque inscrutability. Also I like typewriters; and my dream is of suddenly finding myself rich enough to have an electric typewriter built to my specifications, to type the Fëanorian script. I typed out The Hobbit—and the whole of The Lord of the Rings twice (and several sections many times) on my bed in an attic of Manor Road.
Letter to Christopher Bretherton
16th July 1964
(From The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.)
very difficult for me to write because when they fixed my typewriter they made it too tight and the paper won’t move smoothly but catches and pulls, and all the keys are stiff. i can’t write unless the typewriter is rattling and shaking and pieces are falling off.
Letter to Sally
(From The Letters of Shirley Jackson.)
the rather unique spacing effects on the envelope of this are due to the fact that this is nancy’s typewriter and it skips, hops, and jumps about in a most undisciplined manner, expressing an eccummingsish personality insofar as a machine is able to! my typewriter is at the shop for a week being fixed: I don’t know what’s wrong except that the foxy old carriage is loose and I feel as if part of me were amputated every time I look at my empty desk, but they will probably charge me outrageously for whatever they do.
Letter to Gordon Lameyer
24th September 1954
(From The Letters of Sylvia Plath: Volume 1.)
There should be a symbol on the typewriter for a sigh and another for a deep sigh, from the heart, and one for the wringing of hands.
Letter to Sylvia Townsend Warner
(From The Element of Lavishness: Letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner & William Maxwell.)
At times like these even the typewriter loses its ability to write, and if one simply stares at the machine, it begins to look like an ancient invention, long since obsolete—a mere piece of scrap iron.
Letter to Felice Bauer
30th January 1913
(From Letters to Felice.)