TypeTown #25: "I'm a street writer who doesn't pretend to be anything else."
🔥 Jackie Collins, Joyce Carol Oates, Astrid Lindgren, Melbourne, and more...
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We start this week with a British publishing sensation whose work was so steamy she even helped her assistant get pregnant.
Jackie Collins didn’t use a typewriter, preferring instead to handwrite 10-20 pages a day and then pay a typist to do the grunt work of making it look presentable.
But if you pose for a picture like this, you’re getting in TypeTown.
“I’m a street writer who doesn’t pretend to be anything else.”
It certainly did the trick. Her 32 novels sold 500 million copies around the world.
She even found time to pose with another typewriter she didn’t use.
Her work was packed with sex and generated significant controversy.
“The biggest critics of my books are people who never read them.”
All of which culminated in this amazing 1987 TV spat with Barbara Cartland.
READ» Jackie Collins, the bonkbuster author with a strong moral code - The Irish Times
READ» FOR JACKIE COLLINS, LIFE’S NOT JUST ‘LUCKY’ - LA Times
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The only way to write
In contrast, Joyce Carol Oates seems a fully signed-up TypeTowner.
Her grandmother bought her a toy typewriter when she was six.
Eight years later, a real machine followed.
Now aged 84 and with 61 novels to her name, Oates credits the typewriter for making sure her work continues to progress.
“If James Joyce had written Ulysses on a word processor, he might still be writing it. Because you can always keep revising and maybe Joyce would never have finished.”
She is a five-time Pulitzer prize finalist (including for her 2000 novel Blonde, which has recently been adapted by Netflix) and has been described as “an American literary treasure.”
“I don’t think most people who are writers or artists really feel that they are good at it.”
She also knows a good thing when she sees one.
READ» Literary icon Joyce Carol Oates offers a glimpse into her inner world - Emory University
READ» ‘Every time I write, it’s like the first time’: Joyce Carol Oates on her 61 novels, Twitter storms and widowhood - The Guardian
A Swedish gem
Finally, we head to the small town of Vimmerby, Sweden, where children’s author Astrid Lindgren reaches new levels of TypeTown worship by having her life’s work memorialised with this statue.
Produced in bronze by the artist Marie-Louise Ekman, it has now stood as a central attraction in the town for 15 years.
Lindgren died in 2002 aged 94 and some calculations say only Enid Blyton, Hans Christian Andersen, and the Brothers Grimm have had more children’s fiction translated than her.
For good measure, here’s her office on the island of Furusund.
READ» The statue of Astrid Lindgren - Vimmerby
READ» Writing ‘Pippi Longstocking’ made her famous, but did you know that Astrid Lindgren was also an opinion former? - Sweden
Worth pausing the platen
📬 Collectors hot for vintage typewriters - The Champion
📬 Business booms for Melbourne’s last typewriter repairman, Tom Koska - ABC News
📬 Children’s author trusts in her typewriter - The Courier Mail
And finally… typewriters in the wild
In this 2019 lecture from San Francisco Public Library…
In English poet Ian McMillan’s one-line observation from the train window….
And in this rather fabulous-looking Rome bookshop…
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TypeTown is a fortnightly celebration of the typewriter’s place in modern (and not so modern) culture.
Great post! Those photos of books and typewriters and desks are so relaxing to look at.