I wouldn't normally highlight a non-manual typewriter. As the late Tilman Elster so forcefully put it in an interview with ETCetera magazine in 2006, "For me the electric typewriters and electronic typewriters are not of interest, because you cannot repair anything ... put it in the dustbin!" And someone actually gave me one of the IBMs pictured above only the other day - not sure yet what to do with it (but thanks for the suggestion, Tilman!)
In Harry Bernstein's admirable case, I'll make an exception. Harry, you see, turns 101 today! And since he didn't have his first book published until he was 96, he's an inspiration to us all. Indeed, there's hope for me yet (I've still got more than 30 years up my sleeve, if I can last that long).
After an earlier post (on International Women's Day), about American-born Dora Armitage introducing typing schools to Australia, a fellow blogger, one based in the US (Michael McGettigan, "phillytyper"), commented about having read Albert Facey's 1981 book A Fortunate Life, published nine months before he died. Harry Bernstein beats Albert, however, since Albert was 87 when his first (and only) book came out. I had not long been back in Australia and was living near Albert, in Fremantle, Western Australia, when his book was published, and got to meet him. He was a lovely, humble, self-effacing old man, a memorable character. If Harry Bernstein is anything like Albert, long may he live and long may he continue to write.
Harry Bernstein was born in Stockport, England, on this day in 1910. His first book, The Invisible Wall, deals with his abusive, alcoholic father, the anti-Semitism he encountered growing up in a Lancashire milltown in north-west England, and the Romeo and Juliet romance of his sister and her Christian lover. The book was started when he was 93 and published in 2007. The loneliness he encountered following the death of his wife, Ruby, in 2002, after 67 years of marriage, was the catalyst for Harry to begin work on his book. His second book, The Dream, centres on his family’s move to the US when he was 12. It was published in 2008. In 2009, he published his third book, The Golden Willow, which is the third memoir of his series involving his married life and later years.
Before his retirement at age 62, Bernstein worked for various movie production companies reading scripts and working as a magazine editor for trade magazines, and also wrote freelance articles for such publications as Popular Mechanics and Newsweek.
Harry now lives in Brick Township, New Jersey.
Another US writer born on this day was Hal Clement (above; real name Harry Clement Stubbs), who was born in 1922 in Somerville, Massachusetts, and died in Milton, Massachusetts, on October 29, 2003, aged 81. His forte was science fiction writing, in which he followed the example set by the great typewriter inventor Byron A.Brooks (see earlier post).
One of Clement’s collections of stories was published as Trio for Slide Rule and Typewriter (1999). I’m not sure that it contained much about typewriters, but one reviewer wrote, “The title Trio for Slide Rule and Typewriter also reminds us of how much old-fashioned skull sweat necessarily went into the writing, with no electronic assistance to ease the meticulous calculations of every little point of physics. Like a teacher guiding pupils through tangled thickets of detail to some luminous general principle, Clement courteously worked hard to make the path seem easy.”
Enough said …
One man who used some skull sweat and tried to guide himself through a tangled thicket was William A.Phillips, a second lieutenant in the 22nd Infantry US Army based at Fort Keogh, Custer, Montana.
On this day in 1893, Phillip was granted a patent for his suggested improvements to the Hall typewriter (above), namely to correct “defective printed or typewritten matter or making a subsequent impression …”