Monday, 16 November 2015

LETTERS OF NOTE: Mark Twain on Typewriters

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It's been a little while since I've done a blog about Letters of Note, Shaun Usher's excellent website about historic correspondence, and nigh on two years since I last posted about Mark Twain. So, in a pause from my NCTJ journalism exams this week, I thought it would be good to kill two birds with one stone, via the now antiquated medium of typewriters.

To people of my generation - especially those working in my profession - typewriters can often seem as ancient and obsolete as reel-to-reel tape recorders or record players. But there was a time, like all technology, when it was at the cutting edge and novelists who had once settled for pencils or fountain pens were having to adjust to this brave new world. In 1874, ten years before he published The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain was one such writer, wrestling with the ins and outs of his "new-fangled writing machine".
The first letter that Twain wrote on his new Remington No. 1 typewriter was to his brother, Orion. It can be read in full here, with a multitude of spelling and formatting errors which Twain's novels are thankfully without. But Twain persevered, and in 1883 he became the first person to write his memoirs, Life on the Mississippi, entirely on a typewriter.

For more gems from Letters of Note, or to order copies of the Letters of Note books, visit Shaun's website here. You can also check out my Blog Spot that I created about Shaun Usher's work here, and click here for more things Mark Twain.

Daniel

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