John Lennon's typewriter on display at the American Writers Museum

Typewriter Tuesday: From One Writer to Another

Welcome to Typewriter Tuesday, a series from the American Writers Museum that aims to shed light on the typewriters and other tools behind some of your favorite works of literature. Check back every Tuesday to learn more about these trusty machines and the writers who used them. Our next special exhibit Tools of the Trade, opening June 2019, features more than a dozen typewriters on loan from Steve Soboroff’s impressive collection, as well as other writing implements and instruments used by American writers. Today, we’re taking a look at what happens when current writers sit down at the typewriters their heroes used.

Today’s Typewriter Tuesday is a little different. In the past weeks, we’ve shown you sneak peeks at some of the typewriters that’ll be displayed in our upcoming Tools of the Trade exhibit, which opens June 22. But today we want to show you what happens when incoming writers get a chance to look at the typewriters their idols used.

We’ve been busy these last couple weeks hosting many author programs and typewriter collector Steve Soboroff, whose typewriters will be on display in Tools of the Trade, has been gracious enough to allow us to show some typewriters to incoming authors. Read along to see how these writers reacted when they were able to get a closer look at these magical machines.

Joan Osborne

That feeling when you type on John Lennon’s typewriter. You can see this typewriter beginning June 22 in our upcoming exhibit Tools of the Trade!

Singer-songwriter Joan Osborne visited back on May 18 to talk songwriting and cover a few Bob Dylan songs from her album Songs of Bob Dylan. And when a multi-platinum selling musical artist stops by you of course take out the most musical typewriter you have on hand: John Lennon’s 1951 Imperial. Unsurprisingly, this beauty elicited big smiles from Osborne. Imagine all the lyrics and poems Lennon typed on this…

Terri Hemmert

Radio host Terri Hemmert got the chance to type on John Lennon’s typewriter. View this typewriter when Tools of the Trade opens June 22.

You may think you’re a Beatles fan, but you are not the only one. And in fact, 93XRT radio host Terri Hemmert is probably a bigger fan than you, as she hosts “Breakfast with the Beatles” every Sunday at 8:00 a.m., Chicago’s longest running and most popular Beatles show. Hemmert joined us May 18 to interview Osborne and she was, needless to say, thrilled for the opportunity to type on Lennon’s typewriter. Watch the video below to see Osborne and Hemmert click-clacking away.

Eve L. Ewing

Eve Ewing and Maya Angelou
That feeling when you touch Maya Angelou’s typewriter. View this machine in our upcoming Tools of the Trade exhibit.

Then, on June 10, we celebrated the launch of poet/sociologist/comic book writer/all-around literary rockstar Eve L. Ewing’s second poetry collection 1919, about the race riots that rocked Chicago 100 years ago. We surprised Dr. Ewing with Maya Angelou’s 1980 Adler Meteor 12 and the above picture is the result. Following the program, Ewing shared a photo to Instagram and this direct quote from her post is the only appropriate response when your hands touch the same keys Maya Angelou did:

“right before my reading tonight the staff of the @americanwritersmuseum brought us into a back room and showed us MAYA ANGELOU’S TYPEWRITER asdfghduendksodkem”

“asdfghduendksodkem” is the only word that accurately conveys the feeling these typewriters elicit. No other words in the English language do it justice. When you see them, you can feel their magic and it seems like Maya Angelou and John Lennon are right there in the room with you. Catch these typewriters on display, as well as many more, and experience their magic when Tools of the Trade opens June 22.

Tools of the Trade is sponsored in part by the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation. Additional sponsorship opportunities are also available for this exhibit. If you would like to support Tools of the Trade, and receive recognition and benefits in association with this exhibit, please contact Linda Dunlavy, Development Director at 312-374-8762 or by email at

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