‘THE STORY OF MY TYPEWRITER’
One Man, One Machine, Two Books
By Robert Messenger
Three new works about typewriters appeared on the bookshelves at the end of the last year. One in particular, The Typewriter Revolution, by American philosophy professor Richard Polt, is of special value to those keen to acquire and use manual typewriters dating from the 1930s onwards. It answers every question a newcomer to typewriters might ever think to ask. And it’s not devoted to the history of the typewriter, which is the case with the vast majority of typewriter-related books published since the end of the 19th Century.(A guide to these can be found at http://oztypewriter.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/typewriter-books.html)
There are 21 notable works about typewriter history, but these might only appeal to those with a deep academic interest in the 300-year development of the writing machine. They cover, of course, almost every typewriter ever made.
Only one brand of typewriter has ever had a single book devoted entirely to it: the Blickensderfer. This fascinating little typewheel machine, which dates from 1893-1919, is the subject of The Five-Pound Secretary, written and published in 2003 by Dutch photojournalist Paul Robert, a long-time typewriter collector and historian.
Astonishingly, one single typewriter has had two books devoted it. It is the Olympia SM9 manual semi-portable owned by the American author and director Paul Auster. In 2003 Auster and his artist friend Sam Messer produced The Story of My Typewriter. Then in 2014 Evija Trofimova, a New Zealand writer of Latvian descent, published Paul Auster's Writing Machine: A Thing to Write With. Never before has one typewriter had so much attention focussed on it, and so many words written about it.