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Thursday, 24 March 2011

Women and Typewriters (Part I)

Christopher Latham Sholes did not initially envisage women using his invention. And yet his daughter, Lillian, is said to have been the first of tens of millions of women to have used a typewriter. In later life, Sholes became aware of the vast avenues of opportunity he had helped create. Bruce Bliven, in his The Wonderful Writing Machine, published in 1954 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Royal Typewriter Company, made some interesting observations about the many ways in which women had impacted on and influenced typewriters and typewriters. Peter Weil’s impressive work in putting together “Produce Placement in the Eighties” for the latest edition of ETCetera got me thinking about the vast array of imagery of women and typewriters. Women have appeared with typewriters from the very earliest advertisements, through to propaganda for war effort and book covers and play posters. From out-and-out art, in which Remington and Olivetti have been particularly prominent, to cartoons and cheesecake. From glamour and the movies to the everyday typist. From typewriting schools and typing pools to journalists at the battlefront. From typing speed champions to Royal’s “debutantes of modern business”. Women typists in many lands and in odd places. Often idealised, frequently required to symbolise a “feminine touch”, but mostly drawn or photographed as positive role models. This is just a small selection to illustrate my point:

Early advertising:

More posts on this subject follow ....

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