Liza O’Connor discusses The Troublesome Apprentice & her Typewriter

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In The Troublesome Apprentice Vic types for so long she gets blisters on her fingertips.

For those of you who learned to type on keyboards, this no doubt sounds implausible.

For those of you who learned to type on electric typewriters, this also sounds implausible.

For those of you who learned to type on non-electric prehistoric typewriters, this sounds completely believable.

I bought an ancient Underwood for $2 at a flea market. I could not believe how hard it was to use. One sentence in and my fingers ached. You required strong fingers to type on those machines.

Let me start out by saying a great deal of inventors decided the world needed something more legible than a man’s handwriting. And let’s face it, men are notorious for their chronic bad penmanship. A great deal of men attempted to conquer this dastardly problem. Over fifty of them managed to get something patented in the 19th century. But getting a patent and selling a viable product were two very different things.

The first European commercialized version of the typewriter was the Hansen Writing Ball in 1870.

Hanson writing ball Entire Hansen Ball device

Beneath the ball was a large cylinder with paper wrapped lengthwise around it and an electric carriage return. Thus, technically, it is actually was the first commercialized electric typewriter as well. However pressing down the keys was not electrically assisted. Only when I found this second picture could I comprehend how it worked. Honestly, the 1st pic looks like something a mute fortune teller would create to stay in business.

Still, the Hansen did allow men to type faster than they could write legibly.  But, it only had capitalized letters, so all correspondence yelled at people as if they were deaf. Another issue, you couldn’t see what you were yelling.  Still, it was used in some London offices until 1909, at which point they became polite again and switched to typewriters that didn’t have to be so bloody belligerent.

1st commercial RemingtonIn America, Sholes, Soule & financier, Glidden created a typewriter in 1867 which they sold to Remington who made it look a bit like a sewing machine. (Remington already made sewing machines and evidently thought typing and sewing were much the same process. One stitches words together, and the other stitches fabric. Sholes hated the ridiculous end product and refused to promote it. Not surprisingly, this version of the typewriter was not successful.

In 1873 Remington turned out a better selling version without sewing accouterments. This version had been tested by a male stenographer who constantly broke all the typewriter prototypes Sholes sent him, then returned  harsh critiques about the man’s work. Sholes’ new financier wouldn’t allow him to stop using the mean critic. Instead, he was chided to fix the problems.  To stop the jamming of keys problem, Sholes worked out what we now call the qwerty board, which spreads out the letters most frequently used so they aren’t side by side. That’s right, the ‘non-alphabet confusion’ began here all because of a cranky critic.

1st commercialized (really) qwerty typewriter

The first qwerty typewriter

The Qwerty typewriter was a vast improvement and this time people wanted it. Still all the early machines (excluding the Hansen ball) had keys that struck upward, hitting the bottom of the cylinder to create an imprint on the paper. This meant a person could not see what they were writing until the cylinder returned a few time, rolling the paper up. Thus, Vic types blind as she hammers away on her Remington. She doesn’t complain about it, because that is how it has always been.

Daughterty Visible

Daughtery Visible

However, if Vic could have convinced Xavier to give up his beloved Remington typewriter, there was a new typewriter out in 1893, the Daughterty Visible. This machine had front face key strikes, so the typist could see what he’d just wrote. Oddly, this wasn’t seen as a ‘must have’ improvement, and the under-strike machines continued to sell up until 1915.


Approximately half the Remington typewriters sold were shipped to England, so that’s what Xavier bought. That is also what Professor Rutherford at Oxford College purchased, and what he taught Vic to type on.

Good thing, because there was no standardization back then among the 50 inventors and Vic wouldn’t have fared so well with any other version of the typewriter.

1892 portable typewrite Blickensderfer 5Had she purchased her own, she might have chosen the less expensive, portable typewriter, the Blickensderfer 5.  (Sounds like something Harry Potter would use.) However, it’s not a Qwerty board. Converting to a different board would have been hard for a typewriter (back then both the machine and the person using it was called ‘typewriter’. A few years later the Blickensderfer offered both keyboard options. And when women took over typing during World War I of the 20th century, they began calling the person who typed a ‘typist’.

Hope you enjoyed learning more than you ever wanted about something you will hopefully never have to type on. Let’s see what Xavier & Vic are up to…

 XnV Troubled Apprentice 400 x 640

The Adventures of

Xavier & Vic

Book 1

The Troublesome Apprentice

By Liza O’Connor


Cases Requiring Resolution: 

The Key to Aunt Maddy’s Death

The Missing Husband of Mrs. Wimple

The Disappearing Scarlet Nun

The Clever Butcher’s Wife

The Rescue of Lady Anne


While investigating the death of a friend and client, Maddy Hamilton, Xavier Thorn (reputed to be the greatest sleuth in England) is greatly impressed with Maddy’s nephew, Victor, and offers him a job as his secretary. Aware of Xavier’s history of firing secretaries, Victor garners a promise that for three months he cannot be fired. Vic then proceeds, in Xavier’s view, to be cheeky and impertinent at every turn. Xavier endures the impudent pup because Victor is most skilled in extracting the truth from clients and intuiting facts with little evidence to assist.

As they solve a string of cases, Xavier discovers a few more important details about his troublesome apprentice, such as her true gender, and the realization that she has awakened his long dormant heart.

An Excerpt

Vic sighed with relief upon sight of the Remington in Xavier’s office. Her science professor at Oxford had declared her handwriting illegible and suggested she learn to type. Instead of taking insult, she’d investigated the myriad of typing machines currently available and settled on the same one Xavier had chosen.

She had just finished retyping the third letter when Xavier’s hands settled on her shoulders and he leaned forward to study her work. He remained bare-chested and in his silk sleeping pants and smelled wonderfully masculine, a mixture of musk and tobacco.

“Did I give you permission to enter my office?” he asked, clearly in a better mood, despite his provoking question.

“Implicitly you did, for you told me to retype the letter and, since you possess the only machine in the office, one can reasonably presume permission to enter the room it resides in order to complete your request.” Vic stopped talking because his hands remained on her shoulders and they caused a stirring within her. When he did not counter-challenge her observation, she continued. “Now, if you will give me the combination to your safe, I will retrieve the checkbook, deposit slips, and money required to complete the other tasks.”

He laughed outright while his hands encircled her neck as if he planned to strangle her. “Not bloody likely.” He loosened his grip, but did not release her. “I understand your need of the checkbook and deposit slips, but would you care to explain your need to pilfer my money?”

“We are out of stamps.”

“Ah…a false assumption. If you had checked my desk drawer, you would have found the necessary stamps.” He returned his hands to her shoulders.

She turned and frowned at him, trying to ignore his naked chest and focus on his sparkling eyes and beautiful hawk nose. “I would have expected you to keep your desk drawer locked.”

“Right you are, and you will not receive a key to that either.”

“Perhaps you could remove the stamps from your drawer and give them to my care, since I have need of them and you do not.”

He retracted his warm hands from her shoulders and a chill settled in their absence. After making a great fuss over opening the drawer, he presented her with stamps, placing them into her hand. “Do not lose them.”

She laughed at him as she rose. “Are you always so obliging in the mornings? I would have thought otherwise.”

“I seem to find myself in better spirits than normal,” he admitted. “No doubt due to your early arrival.”


The Troublesome Apprentice




About the author 

I’m tired of telling my proper bio. So you get the improper bio.

Liza O’Connor was raised by feral cats, which explains a great deal, such as why she has no manners, is always getting in trouble, and doesn’t behave like a proper author and give you a proper bio.

She is highly unpredictable, both in real life and her stories, and presently is writing humorous romances. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.

Mostly humorous books by Liza:

Saving Casey – Old woman reincarnates into troubled teen’s body. (Half funny/half traumatizing)

Ghost LoverTwo British brothers fall in love with the same young woman. Ancestral ghost is called in to fix the situation. There’s a ghost cat too. (Humorous Contemporary Romance)

A Long Road to Love Series: (Humorous Contemporary odd Romance)

Worst Week Ever — Laugh out loud week of disasters of Epic proportions.

Oh Stupid Heart — The heart wants what it wants, even if it’s impossible.

Coming to Reason — There is a breaking point when even a saint comes to reason.

Climbing out of Hell — The reconstruction of a terrible man into a great one.

Social Networking



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Liza’s Blog and Website   Facebook   Twitter

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5 responses to “Liza O’Connor discusses The Troublesome Apprentice & her Typewriter”

  1. lizaoconnor says :

    Thanks for letting Vic type on your blog. )

  2. melissakeir says :

    I used to have a manual typewriter and then an electric one. I thought that was a huge difference. I can’t imagine how it might have been to not see what you were typing! I would have spelled so much wrong! 🙂

  3. andrearcooperauthor says :

    I must have strong fingers as I liked the manual typewriters (except for spelling errors). Probably got strong fingers from my mom trying to make me learn how to play the piano as she did. Even now, I type too hard on the computer keyboard.
    Fascinating post as always.

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