Thursday, September 20, 2012

A digression: writers, pens and typewriters (1)

Apparently C. S. Lewis did not use a typewriter:

Neither did Albert Einstein:

Roald Dahl did not use a typewriter or computer:

 Martin Amis apparently does not use a typewriter or computer:

But H. L. Mencken used a typewriter:

So did E. B. White:

So did Ernest Hemingway, who said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

P. G. Wodehouse used manual typewriters to write more than 90 books:

Donald E. Westlake used manual typewriters to write more than 100 books. His favorite typewriter was a discontinued model, so he kept several specimens on hand for spare parts (source):

The Takeaway: Keep writing.

See disclaimer.


  1. Fantastic survey! In my years as a special collections librarian, I became convinced that Thomas Mann didn't type. Imagine the poor typesetters working from his manuscripts in that difficult hand! Other authors were inseperable from their typewriters, for example Hermann Broch, who would have covered the earth in drafts and copies if he'd had a wordprocessor. James Laughlin of New Directions Publishing once told me that the margins of Ezra Pound's poems were uneven because EzPo was so impatient, he couldn't wait for the typewriter carriage to return all the way.

  2. Allegra,

    Wonderful details of the operating style of famous authors. Thanks for telling them. BTW, is "EzPo" librarian shorthand? Are there a lot of insider nicknames like that?

  3. EzPo is from a little ditty by T. S. Eliot about "EzPo and Possum" -- he called himself Possum, of course, in "Practical Cats." I can't remember where I read it. At the Beinecke, we always spoke of Katherine Dryer's Société Anonyme as "SocAn." Alfred Stieglitz was "Uncle Al," while Carl Van Vechten was "Uncle Carlo." Which is not to speak lots of awful librarian-generated acronyms. Maybe you should write a piece about awful acronyms.

    1. Allegra, In my experience, most jargon (including acronyms) used WITHIN a trade or profession is good - it is a time-saving shorthand. In contrast: trade jargon addressed to laymen; pretentious vocabulary, convoluted phrasing, and vague meaning; and nonsensical, incoherent, or meaningless talk are forms of bad jargon. I have a post on this topic at: