TypeTown #29: "Life is about creating yourself."
☘️ George Bernard Shaw, Fairfield Porter, Snoop Dogg, John Candy...
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The weekend starts here, so settle down with a Guinness and kick back as we remember a literary giant (don’t worry, the heavy stuff doesn’t last).
Dublin-born George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was a playwright known for addressing political, social, and religious themes.
In 1925, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
During the early stages of his career (1879-1885), Shaw produced five novels — although none had the impact of his later plays.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
Photographed working on a Remington portable no. 1, a Smith Premier, and a Remington Noiseless, he was always determined to keep writing.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
Like TypeTown, Shaw was a teetotaller and non-smoker (we’re fun at parties, honest). He died aged 94, an extraordinary lifespan for someone born in 1856, but continued to hit the typewriter until his final days.
“Youth is wasted on the young.”
In many critics’ eyes, only Shakespeare outranks him in the list of all-time British dramatists.
“A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out.”
You can watch Shaw setting up his typewriter in this silent five-minute clip from 1946.
READ» George Bernard Shaw’s typewriter - Los Angeles Times
READ» The Hidden World of the Typewriter - The Atlantic
WATCH» George Bernard Shaw documentary - Write Like
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Keeping it real
Before this week, the work of US artist Fairfield Porter (1907-1975) hadn’t entered TypeTown’s orbit.
An acclaimed realist, he is primarily known for landscapes, interiors and portraits. And many of his subjects were writers from the famed New York School of the 1950s and 60s.
We haven’t trawled through Porter’s entire library, but just a quick glance served up three works with a typewriter included.
"The profoundest order is revealed in what is most casual."
READ» Fairfield Porter - The Art Story
From 20th-century realism to 21st-century music, now, thanks to the recent admission of US rapper Snoop Dogg that the typewriter was key to some of his early success.
After trying — and failing — to write his lyrics by hand (“I would lose my sh*t”), he copied the lead of his peer 2Scoops and switched to the typewriter.
“I used to type like 65 words a minute,” he said.
The revelation prompted plenty of jokes. But we’ve got your back, Snoop. Welcome to the club.
READ» Snoop Dogg reveals he used to write lyrics on a typewriter - Sky News
Worth pausing the platen
📬 Eagle Archives, Dec. 8, 1954: Typewriter man Charlie Curtin retires but keeps on clicking - The Berkshire Eagle
📬 A 95-Year-Old Poet Finds Her Muse and Literary Praise - The Wall Street Journal
📬 Florida Man Finds Voice, Makes Living With Typewriter Poetry - US News
📬 Eliot’s ‘wretched old’ typewriter looms large in an analysis of The Waste Land - Spectator Australia
And finally… typewriters in the wild
In the 1991 John Candy film Delirious…
In a seven-bedroom mansion currently for sale in Warwick, NY…
And in this melancholic portrait from Berlin…
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Until next time
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TypeTown is a fortnightly celebration of the typewriter’s place in modern (and not so modern) culture.