Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search

John Millington Synge's typewriter

When Synge brought his new typewriter home in 1900 he told his family that it spelt even worse than he did. He was to use this little machine for the rest of his life, typing every draft of his literary works on it, from the first to final version. His nephew, Edward Stephens, who lived next door to Synge throughout his youth, recalled hearing his uncle tapping away on his typewriter through the open window of the bedroom where he routinely worked.

The portable Blickensderfer was first introduced at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and cost $35. The revolutionary design allowed the typist to see their work at a time when most typewriters were understrike machines that concealed the writing. Each typewriter came with an extra typewheel, a dozen ink rolls and a tool kit. Another feature was the modified keyboard: the bottom row of keys contained the most commonly used letters, DHIATENSOR, to increase efficiency. The D key on this machine is now missing.

Shelfmark: TCD MS OBJECT 79

Felicity O' Mahony

Felicity O' Mahony is an Archivist in the Department of Manuscripts & Archives with curatorial responsibility for medieval Latin and Greek manuscripts. She is also interested in early 20th-century Irish literature and Irish photographic archives.