TypeTown #16: "I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them."
🕵️♂️ Ian Fleming, Les Murray, William Kentridge, Ethan Hawke, and more...
[Welcome to TypeTown, a fortnightly newsletter celebrating the typewriter’s place in modern (and not so modern) culture. Click here to subscribe.]
Last time out, TypeTown included a still from the new Netflix release Operation Mincemeat.
A true story, one of the characters involved goes by the name of Ian Fleming.
Yes, that’s right.
The name’s Fleming. Ian Fleming.
Ring any bells?
Six months on and still reeling from the ending of No Time To Die, we’ve tried to hold back from delving into the man who created James Bond.
But if not now, when?
“I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them.”
Fleming was far from a troubled artist. A journalist and naval intelligence officer before he took up fiction, he was the epitome of the British establishment.
Educated at Eton and Sandhurst, he approached writing with dedication and professionalism. Casino Royale, his first novel, was published just 14 months after he sat down to write its first words.
By the time of his death, he’d notched up 12 Bond novels, two collections of short stories, and the children’s tale Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.
“If I wait for the genius to come, it just doesn’t arrive."
He was also a man who knew how to spend with style.
As a reward for finishing Casino Royale, Fleming ordered a gold-plated Royal Quiet Deluxe for the princely sum of $174.
By 1995, 31 years after his death, the machine was fetching £56,250 at Christies’ auction house in London.
READ» The Man With The Golden Typewriter - Ian Fleming
READ» The Man with the Golden Typewriter review - entertaining 007 letters - The Guardian
READ» Ian Fleming Explains How to Write a Thriller, Circa 1963 - Crime Reads
WATCH» How Ian Fleming created James Bond - (1 min)
Meet "the custodian of Australia's soul"
Somehow in the last couple of weeks, TypeTown has stumbled across Les Murray, a poet whose work is simultaneously as rich and brutally stark as the Australian landscape in which he was raised.
“I knew there was some sort of system of exams that meant you could be a success in the world, but what I wanted was to shelter from employment.”
Born in rural New South Wales in 1938, his mother died when he was just 12. Unsurprisingly, it was an experience that shaped both his worldview and his work.
“There were a lot of dark shadows over my growing up.”
Murray was fiercely proud of his home country, and he went on to be awarded the Order of Australia for services to Aussie literature.
And anyone who writes a poem entirely about the typewriter is always likely to end up here.
READ» A life in writing: Les Murray - The Guardian
READ» Wordplay: When a poet yearns for the tools of his trade - The Sydney Morning Herald
❤️ Enjoying this?
✉️ Forward to a friend and suggest they might subscribe.
☕️ Say thanks with a coffee.
🗣 Anything else? Hit reply and say hello.
Seeing the big picture
Away from the written word, South African artist William Kentridge made history last year when his 2003 work Large Typewriters sold at a London auction for £682,750 ($935,000).
We’re not sure they’d fit on the desk, but they look good nonetheless.
“I'm interested in machines that make you aware of the process of seeing and aware of what you do when you construct the world by looking. This is interesting in itself, but more as a broad-based metaphor for how we understand the world.”
One for the dinner parties…
Did you know typewriters accounted for 0.0000016% of world trade in 2020?
(Advisory: TypeTown holds no responsibility for the ensuing social isolation should you choose to drop this into your real-life repertoire.)
Worth pausing the platen
📬 THE BELL DINGS FOR ME: On Writing with a Typewriter - Cleaver Magazine
📬 Ten Ways a Typewriter Will Improve Your Writing - Medium
📬 The first Japanese Typewriter - ArtStation
And finally… typewriters in the wild
In this portrait of Ethan Hawke, star of the magnificent Before trilogy…
In this charming image from the office of nature writer Rachel Carson…
And in this Jerry Lewis take on The Typewriter by Leroy Anderson…
TypeTown… brought to you by caffeine
If TypeTown brightens your week, donations to our Earl Grey fund are hugely appreciated (especially when a deadline’s approaching).
Please share the love
Alternatively, please take a second to ❤️ and comment below — or share this post to your social networks, neighbours, grannies or anyone else who might like it. Whatever you do to spread the word, I promise it never goes unnoticed. Thank you!
Until next time
PS: New here?
TypeTown is a fortnightly celebration of the typewriter’s place in modern (and not so modern) culture.