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Thanks for typing


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single prof in position of a good sinecure must be in want of a wife:

Holsinger and some colleagues were recently discussing how often the wives of male academics do significant work for which they are rarely given proper credit.

This reminded Holsinger of all the times he has read male authors thanking their wives for typing up manuscripts in the acknowledgments of their books. Curious to see how widespread the practice was, Holsinger did a quick search on Google Books and found dozens of “eye-opening” examples that he started sharing on Twitter with the hashtag #ThanksForTyping.

For whatever reason, a lot of male authors over the years have been unwilling or unable to type up their own goddamn work. The acknowledgments of their books show how much extra work their wives did in turn.

“I have to thank my wife for typing the whole of this difficult manuscript in spite of the heavy burden laid on housewives by a six years’ war and its oppressive aftermath,” one example reads.

Holsinger said he drew his examples from all over: academic work, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and many other genres — even self-help books.

Here’s the twitter curation.

This reminded me that in the introduction to The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien explained that one factor in the long delay in the book’s publication was that the manuscript “had to be typed and re-typed: by me: the cost of professional typing by the ten-fingered was beyond my means.”

At the time, (the late 1940s and early 1950s) Tolkien was the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford — i.e., roughly the equivalent in the American system of a chaired professor at HYP.   Some quick googling indicates Tolkien was being paid 500 pounds per year by Oxford in the late 1920s, which would be the equivalent of about $33,000 in 2017 money.  I also recall reading somewhere that he was grading bluebooks for extra pay during the summer early in his academic career when he came upon a blessedly blank page, upon which he spontaneously wrote the words “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit,” while having no idea at the time what a hobbit was.

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