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Friday, 27 May 2011

On This Day in Typewriter History (VII)

MAY 27
If you wanted to be a writer, today’s the day you needed to be born. Many great writers, it seems, were born on May 27. Let’s start with an English one, Arnold Bennett, of whom it was written:
'Tis very comforting to know
That every other day or so
A book by Bennett will appear
To charm the Western Hemisphere.
I see him now, with zeal sublime
Pounding from dawn to dinner-time
Four typewriters, with hands and feet.
When the four novels are complete
He'll fold, and send à grande vitesse
His Quadrumanuscript to press.
Enoch Arnold Bennett was born at Hanley, Staffordshire, on this day in 1867, and died of typhoid in London on March 27, 1931, aged 63.
Now for some wonderful American writers:
Dashiell Hammett was born Samuel Dashiell Hammett on a farm called Hopewell and Aim off Great Mills Road in St Mary’s County, Maryland, on May 27, 1894. He died in New York, aged 66, on January 10, 1961.
This Royal portable is the last typewriter he used, and was donated by his daughter, Jo Hammett, in December 2001, to the San Francisco Public Library’s San Francisco History Centre and Book Arts and Special Collections. The photo, by W. Kramer, is on the blog What’s On The 6th Floor?
Hammett is best known for his hard-boiled detective novels and short stories. Among the enduring characters he created is Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon). He is regarded as "one of the finest mystery writers of all time".
John William Cleever was born at Quincy, Massachusetts, on May 27, 1912, and died at Ossining, New York, on June 18, 1982, aged 70. He was a novelist and short story writer, sometimes referred to as "the Chekhov of the suburbs". He is seen above with an Olivetti portable.
Harlan Jay Ellison was born on May 27, 1934, in Cleveland, Ohio. He is, as far as I know, still trying to sell his first typewriter, a Remington portable, for $US40,000. See
Given the number of photographs taken of her with typewriters, I couldn’t help but include among the writers born on this day Rachel Louise Carson (born Springvale, Pennsylvania, on May 27, 1907; died, aged 56, Silver Spring, Maryland, on April 14, 1964).
Carson, seen here with a Royal portable, was a marine biologist and conservationist whose writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.
And if you wanted to be a great writer, two “inventions” for typewriter desks associated with May 27 would surely be de rigueur. One, patented on May 27, 1941, was designed by John S. Burdiek of North Muskegon, Michigan, for the Shaw-Walker Company, while the other (patent application filed on May 27, 1954) was designed by Charles O. Applegate, of Alexandria, Virginia. This is the rather natty looking one seen above.

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