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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Death of a Good Guy: Vale Norman Harris, Sports Writer Par Excellence, Creator of the word Jogging

'To A.G. Macdonell and Hugh de Selincourt and other celebrated writers on village cricket, one must now add the name of Norman Harris.'
- E.W. Swanton, The Cricketer
'[Norman Harris] has a sympathy for athletes, and the typewriter to take facts and events and mould them into something really stirring.'
- Noel Chappell, The New Zealand Herald
'I've had an interesting and varied career. Always independent, which made it interesting.'
- Norman Harris on Radio New Zealand National
Norman Hillier Harris
Born on January 24, 1940, at Te Kowhai, Ngaruawahia, outside Hamilton in the Waikato, New Zealand. He died suddenly in Richmond, London, on November 20, 2015, aged 75. He was married once, to Jane (born 1954) in 1983. They divorced in 1996.
He was educated at Te Kowhai Primary School, Hamilton High School and Auckland University.
FAMILY: Norman was the youngest of six children born to Robert Edward Harris and his wife, Rubina Rose, née Moore. Robert Edward Harris was born at St Ives, Cornwall, England, on October 8, 1893. Robert's father, William Harris (1855-1941) was also born in St Ives. He settled in New Zealand in 1879 and established a farm at Te Kowhai, but was living back in England at the time of Robert's birth. William was also a prominent Methodist lay preacher in the Waikato. Robert Harris worked on and eventually took over his father's farm, and specialised in bee keeping. He enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 3rd Battalion, A Company in February 1916, and on his 23rd birthday, October 8, 1916, his family received a telegram from Wellington saying he had been killed in action. Three days later it was found that Rifleman Harris was still alive. For many years Norman Harris kept a photograph of his father being met by his grandfather William and Methodist preacher-editor uncle George (a conscientious objector) at Frankton Junction railway station in 1919. Robert Harris died in Hamilton on March 25, 1970, aged 76. His wife Rubina died in Hamilton of January 2, 1973, aged 75.
Originally intending to be a teacher, Norman Harris gained a scholarship to Auckland University and trained there for six months in 1957, before applying for a position with the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation in Auckland. Travelling to his studies one day, he saw a group of boys taunting a pensioner. Harris began to have visions of writing - starting with The Old Man on the Bus, along the lines of something he had seen in O. Henry's Full House movie in 1952. His story was never completed, but Harris' focus had changed.
The closest the NZBC could find to the journalist's job he wanted was as a radio copywriting assistant (writing schedules) for Station 3XC in Timaru. He later transferred back to his home city of Hamilton, to work for 1XH. In the meantime, in his absence, his parents had applied to The New Zealand Herald in Auckland on his behalf, and in 1959 he took up a cadetship as a 19-year-old reporter. In a sports writing career lasting 55 years, he most notably worked for The Sunday Times and The Observer in London, and in his later years was appointed Durham cricket correspondent for The Times, the newspaper he had wanted to work for since he was a young man.
As a youngster at Te Kowhai primary, Norman Harris had an ambition to score an unbeaten 50 in lunchtime cricket sessions on the school sports ground. Under the watchful eye of his beloved headmaster John Ballance Hostick, Harris built the innings over a number of days, but was caught on the boundary on 49. The upshot both scarred and inspired him. He was jeered by his classmates, who threw him into the gorse. His revenge was to dream up a story, Birth of a God, in which the hero becomes a Test cricketer and scores a century, to envy and admiration in equal measure from his old school friends. The NZBC turned the story into a radio broadcast, which in reality won warm reviews and Harris some stinting praise from workmates at the Herald.
It was the only piece of fiction Harris ever wrote. His mentor at the Herald was the great New Zealand sportswriter Terence Power McLean (later Sir Terence), who Harris came to believe had once harboured unfulfilled dreams of being a novelist. Harris' goal was simply to become a cricket writer. But he got his first break as an athletics reporter, covering an international track meeting at Eden Park in Auckland in early 1962. McLean phoned him the next day, uncharacteristically heaping praise on the second-year cadet's work. Later, McLean took Harris to one side, suggesting Harris' future lay not in newspaper journalism, but in real writing. Oddly, one of the last of Harris' many fine books, Scottie, the story Neville Ian Scott, of an Olympic athlete afflicted by alcoholism, is listed by Amazon as fiction. It's a sports story Harris had waited since that meeting in 1962 to tackle, and is indeed one almost too incredible to be true. 
Like many great sports journalists, Harris had an incredibly retentive memory. In writing his 2010 autobiography, Beyond Cook's Gardens: A Writer's Journey (inspired by Matthew Parris' Chance Witness: An Outsider's Life in Politics), Harris recalled the exact time, place and day on which his young world changed forever. He was lying in bed listening to the NZBC radio news at 7 o'clock on the morning of Saturday, September 3, 1960, in his flat on View Road, Mount Eden, close to Eden Park and Murray Gordon Halberg's furniture store on Dominion Road. The lead item was that two New Zealanders, Halberg (5000 metres) and Peter George Snell (800 metres), had, within the space of half an hour, won Olympic Games gold medals on the rust red track at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Both athletes were coached by Arthur Leslie Lydiard, who Harris had interviewed in Auckland months before the Olympics. Lydiard took an instant shine to Harris, sensing he "understood" runners and running, and was able to grasp Lydiard's training philosophy. 
The day after the Rome triumphs, Harris went into the Herald offices on Wyndham Street and found the newsroom in a flap, trying to drag anything and everything together in order to do this remarkable achievement some justice. Harris mentioned he'd interviewed Lydiard. Suddenly he was taken into a small room in the middle of the editorial floor, sat at a desk with a typewriter and a phone, and told to write to his heart's content. The article appeared as "The Man Behind the Gold Medals" by a "Special Herald Correspondent" - Harris' first byline, of sorts. 
During the next four years Harris was to become the world's foremost track and field writer, producing "perhaps the finest writing on athletics in the English language". And he had plenty to write about. Snell and Halberg competed against international competition in New Zealand in early 1961 and later that year went on a world record-breaking spree in Europe. The high points came on another international tour of New Zealand, in early 1962, when Snell broke the world mile record at Cook's Garden, Wanganui, and the world 800 metres-880 yards records in Christchurch. As carbon copies of Herald news stories went to the New Zealand Press Association, Harris' coverage of these races reached around the globe - including, to his great delight, The Times on Fleet Street.
By the end of 1962 Harris had realised that finding his own way to Fleet Street required taking matters into his own hands. He paid his way to Western Australia to cover the Commonwealth Games, where Snell and Halberg once again dominated the track. Using the example of a Herald sports department colleague Bruce Montgomerie, who produced a rugby league annual, Harris published his first book, Silver Fern in Perth, in black and white on glossy paper, and selling for a mere 3 shillings. Adding insult to injury, the Herald charged him £1000 to print it, but Harris offset that cost with adverts, no holds barred, from corsets to beer. The exercise paid off handsomely - Harris was seen as the authority on a sport which had grabbed the attention of all New Zealanders. In 1963 he brought out a New Zealand Athletics Almanac. His next two books, this time in hard cover from Reed, remain outstanding works in the entire genre of sports literature: Lap of Honour (1963) and The Legend of Lovelock (1964).
Yet it was a short news story Harris had written for the Herald and which appeared as a small, single-column item on February 16, 1962, which was to make perhaps Harris' most famous contribution to the English language: he introduced the word "jogger".  During a live interview with Radio New Zealand National in 2013, a listener texted in to say the word "jog" had been around since Shakespeare's time. Harris replied that his Oxford English Dictionary of 1961 did not have the words "jogger" or "jogging". He was right. They did not exist before he described a group of veteran Auckland runners as "joggers".

After covering the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where Snell won the 800-1500 metres double, and more Snell world records in Auckland later that year, Harris took the opportunity to follow Snell on an unsuccessful tour to Europe in 1965. Perhaps sensing the goose that laid the golden egg was now on its last legs, Harris decided to stay in Britain, though he also covered the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Jamaica. He did all sorts of odd jobs, such as covering the amateur Tour de France and representing New Zealand at an International Weightlifting Federation meeting in Iran. In the meantime he had ventured into rugby book writing and, having competed in a marathon in 1960 and a road cycling race the next year, wrote Champion of Nothing: The Testament of a Journalist-Athlete. This title referred to his lack of sporting prowess, not his skill and diligence in writing books. Harris begun collaborating with Australian runner Ron Clarke on another athletics book, The Lonely Breed, which he completed in Skibbereen in Ireland. In London he wrote Kiri: Music and a Maori Girl about New Zealand opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa, a book on cricket, another with Olympic champion Mary Rand, and yet another on soccer's Charlton brothers. More books were produced in partnership with BBC sports commentator David Coleman. 
In 1969 Harris returned to sports journalism with London's The Sunday Times and went on in 1978 to establish the Sunday Times National Fun Run over 4km in Hyde Park with his sports editor John Lovesey and former Olympic champion Chris Brasher. Harris was a director of the company controlling the run, as well as company secretary. But he continued to interest himself in many matters beyond sport, and his eclectic range of lasting heroes and heroines was revealed in his 1971 book about expatriate New Zealanders, Fly Away People. The subjects included motor racer Chris Amon, US rocket scientist Bill Pickering, actress Nyree Dawn Porter, historian and classicist Sir Ronald SymeBritish Labour politician and barrister John Faithful Fortescue Platts-Mills QC, and Southern Rhodesian Prime Minister Sir Reginald Stephen Garfield Todd, the last two being particular favourites of Harris'. However, Harris' admiration for New Zealanders didn't always extend to All Black rugby players, as he was assaulted by notorious prop forward Keith Murdoch in a hotel while covering the 1972-73 tour of Britain, Ireland and France. Still, Harris' love of long distance running remained keen to the end, and in 2013 he wrote At Last He Comes: The Greatest Race in History about the 1908 London Olympics marathon.
Harris spent his last years out of the mainstream, covering Durham county cricket and living in Hexham in Northumberland. On a visit to London to go to a movie and have dinner afterwards, Harris collapsed in a street in Richmond and died.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Henri Emanuel Longini (1875-1929): The Longini 'typewriter', the Blickensderfer 3, the Dactyle and the Muldivo

Henri Emanuel Longini standing outside his Dutch office, in Rotterdam, in about 1910. The image, kindly sent to me by Peter Weil, is from the book Vom Sektretär zur Sekretärin - Ein Austellung zur Geschicte der Schreibmaschiune und iher Bedeuting fur den Beruf der Frau im Buro (From Secretary to the Secretary - An Exhibition on the History of the Typewriter and its Importance for the Profession of the Woman in the Office), by Rolf Stümpel, Gutenberg Museum, Mainz, March 29-June 9, 1985, p63
The Longini "typewriter", Belgium's first writing instrument, was invented by Henri Emanuel Longini and marketed by him in 1906.
Longini marketed from Rotterdam in Holland and his headquarters in Brussels in Belgium rebadged Blickensderfer 7s,  as both wide-carriage and conventional width carriage Blickensderfer 3s. Longini's HQ was at 31 Rue des Croisades, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode.
The conventional width carriage machine above has the serial number 135168 (1909). The wide-carriage version, below, was first seen on this blog almost three years ago now.
These add another Blick badge to those more commonly known, such as de Renzy and Reed's New Zealand Typewriter Company, Groyen & Richtmann of Solingen and Cologne, the Rimingtons at Cheapside in London and Newcastle-on-Tyne, Rochefort's Dactyle of Paris, and the Creelman brothers of Ontario; not forgetting, of course, Stamford, Connecticut.
Yet another variation of the Blick badge is on this aluminium Dactyle Featherweight, serial number 170378 (1913), which has the H.E. Longini Bruxelles (Brussels, but apparently not Rotterdam as well) badge. This model was part of the late Tilman Elster's Collection.
When World War I broke out in 1914, Henri Emanuel Longini, who was born in Strasbourg, then part of Germany, decided to leave his Belgium and Dutch office supply businesses in the hands of others and set up shop on London's "Typewriter Row", Queen Victoria Street. While he was in London, a brother ran his shorthand training school and, despite German occupation of Belgium, clandestinely taught more than 1000 Belgians to speak English.
Longini took over the Muldivo Calculating Machine Company, which had been established in the same London building in 1912 by Henri Ebstein, and did not return to Belgium until after the war ended in 1918. Ebstein was born in Wintzenheim on May 1, 1881. The family changed its name to Easton in 1938. Henri Easton died in London on April 18, 1963.
Having first employed Oswald Jahn as his representative in Rotterdam, in 1915 Longini replaced the deceased Jahn with J.A. Ressing, of Dinxperlo, right on the German border, as his general agent in Holland.
Longini was born on September 14, 1875, and his first career was as a skilled young lithographer in his native Strasbourg. In 1871 this city had become part of the new German Empire as an outcome of the Franco-Prussian War and the Siege of Strasbourg. In 1919, following the Treaty of Versailles, the city was annexed by France.
In the mid 1890s Longini moved to Saint-Josse-ten-Noode in Brussels, where he initially worked as a trade clerk (on February 26, 1904, he was declared a Belgium citizen). Longini entered the office supply business in 1897, aged 22. One of his first agency deals was for the German-made Brunsviga calculating machine, manufactured by sewing machine makers Grimme, Natalis and Company AG of Braunschweig.
In March 1892 GNC won the licensing rights for Germany, Belgium and Switzerland for Willgodt Theophil Odhner's calculating machine, at a cost of 10,000 marks plus 10 marks a machine. The first Brunsviga machine was delivered in July 1892 for 150 marks, It was exhibited at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, where the Blickensderfer typewriter also made its debut.
Longini was one of those agents who had to undergo a six-week training course on the use and servicing of the Brunsviga at the Braunschweig plant. But at 31 Rue des Croisades, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode in Brussels he also sold typewriters, duplicators, adding machines, ribbons, carbon papers and steel office furniture. As well, Longini founded the Belgium Stenographers' Association, of which he became president, and in 1922 wrote a manual based on the Prévost-Delaunay shorthand system.
He first came to prominence in the typewriter industry with his "Longini typewriter", which was, according to Typewriter Topics, "not exactly a typewriter in the present acceptance of the term, [though it] was a writing machine. It was not designed for correspondence, but intended instead for the writing of signs and placards in extra large letters by mechanical means. The machine wrote only capitals and the impression was accomplished through use of a large and upright typewheel. The card was slipped beneath, the wheel turned by means of a knob with the left hand, and the printing done by pressure on a single key at the top. The Longini would write on paper, wood, cardboard or metal. It sold at a reasonable price ... Even though not a typewriter in the popular sense, it can be said to be the first writing instrument made in Belgium." Wim Van Rompuy says the Longini (he calls it "Miss België") used two ink rollers and exchangeable type.
The Longini was not, it seems, a success, and the next year, 1907, Longini invented an improved printing adding machine. He had previously, in late 1905, patented in Germany an adding machine "with pusher (or slide) drive" (DE 184 719). Perhaps stung, or financially handicapped by the failure of his "typewriter", Longini decided against attempting to manufacture and market the adding machines himself, but immediately sold the rights to them to Grimme, Natalis and Company AG.
From his move to London until his death on September 6, 1929, just a week before his 54th birthday, Longini concentrated his efforts on calculating machines. By the time he took over the Muldivo business, he had been intimate with the basics of this machine for 18 years. Apart from the Muldivo, he also sold a range of other brands and machines, including  the Astra and Triumphator, the Sundstrand and Barrett adding machines, the Addressograph and Ditto, the Victoria copying machine and the Rotaprint, and Woodstock typewriters. The calculators, such as the Muldivo and Triumphator, were all pretty much clones of Odhner's original 1893 design.
Odhner (1845-1905), a St Petersburg-based Swedish engineer (he was born in Dalby, Värmland), invented the Arithmometer, a hugely successful portable mechanical calculator, before selling the Germany, Belgium and Switzerland rights to Brunsviga.
As it is today
The Muldivo company Longini took over in London initially had its pinwheel machines made in Foncine-le-Haut in the Jura district, on the Swiss border in eastern France. The owners of the factory were the Chateau Brothers [Chateau Freres] of Paris.
In France, this machine took the same brand name as the Blickensderfer typewriter, the Dactyle. Both this and the Muldivo were brand variations of German Brunsviga machines.
Muldivo was also the distributor of the Britannic model made by Guy's Calculating Machines and in 1939 Muldivo took over the Guy brothers.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Typewriter Revolution Takes Off

(You may note that, like Josephine Tey in The Man in the Queue [see previous post], Richard Polt has at least partly dedicated this book to a single typewriter.)
Richard Polt's book The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist's Companion to the 21st Century has been getting some very warm reviews on Amazon, where it is consistently scoring five stars out of five.
Here is a sample of some of the reviews (for some reason I can't seem to access all of them, but there are more than the ones here):
Simply the Best
A brilliant addition to the limited field of typewriter-related literature and the most significant publication about typewriters in more than a decade. In the 21st Century, nobody knows typewriters quite like Richard Polt. Here he combines his outstanding qualities as a writer and historian with an ability to convey his great passion for these machines and his intimate knowledge of their many abiding virtues. Polt brings together all the strands with style: Where typewriters came from in the latter part of the 19th Century, why today they have an increasing appeal to people both young and old, what to look for when seeking to buy one, when to use it. Such is Polt's beautiful writing style, his thorough understanding of his subject matter and his unique grasp on typewriter use around the world in 2015, his book is at once engrossing, enlightening, entertaining and, most vitally, easy reading. Indeed, the experience of reading The Typewriter Revolution feels like having a long, uninterrupted and utterly enjoyable conversation with a fascinating, deeply informed author. In many areas, it's pleasing to find Polt has some very firm opinions: the reader comes to feel he or she can trust those views. There is a Typewriter Revolution going on out there, and here is the perfect guide for the Remington Rebels, the Corona Crusaders, the Royal Renegades and the Underwood Uprisers! To all those insightful people, I recommend this book most heartily.
- Robert Messenger
Viva la revolución!
By Bradley H.Baker
What a great book! I was inspired to invest in a manual typewriter a year ago and wish this book had been available then. It literally answered all my questions and made me feel less weird knowing there are other people out there who share my love for things less digital. I especially liked the bookmark typewriter ribbon, nice touch by the author. Would highly recommend as a companion to anyone who enjoys using typewriters in the modern age.
Informative, Impressive and Entertaining.
Yes! We are talking about typewriters!
By Sheila English

(I've actually used that Meteor, in Cincinnati, and quite a lot!)
Typewriters have not become antiquated, they have evolved and now you can find out just what amazing things you can do with these beautiful machines! As a novice collector who actually uses a typewriter to type letters, poems, etc, this was very helpful to me. It shows me all the possibilities my machine has to offer. It also talks about how to fix your machine, what to look for when buying a machine and gives you tips and tricks to use whether you're a novice or expert.
The author gives us information in very useful ways and in a way that keeps us entertained as well as informed. I recommend the book to anyone with an interest or love of typewriters.
By Doug Freeman
The revolution explained
By Chef Leo
I pre-ordered this book back in February 2015, shortly after I had begun collecting typewriters and reading Richard Polt's Classic Typewriter Page online. I was not disappointed. this book covers everything from why people use and collect typewriters, to the philosophy that goes with typewriting as opposed to computers, to works of art created with typewriters, to picking out a good used machine and caring for it. No matter how much you think you know about typewriters, there will be something in this book that surprises you. If you wonder what all the fuss is about, the book will explain that, too. I recommend this book highly.
The Typewriter Revolution
By Otter Valley
Very nicely produced book. Gives a history of various typewriters and their evolution. A good basic introduction to the subject.