Olivetti Studio 46 Typewriter Used by Octavia Butler

Object Details

Between 1974 and 1979
plastic, metal
case: 6 1/4 × 17 1/8 × 17 1/2 in. (15.8 × 43.5 × 44.5 cm)
typewriter: 6 1/2 × 16 9/16 × 14 1/4 in. (16.5 × 42 × 36.2 cm)
This Olivetti Studio 46 Typewriter belonged to Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006), who wrote science fiction when few black writers did. Butler began writing at age 10 and eventually used a computer to compose, but noted, “I didn’t always. I wrote my first ten books on a manual typewriter of one kind or another….She [my mother] did day work; she made not very much money….here she had a daughter begging for a typewriter.” Butler’s blue typewriter dates to the 1970s. It is manual, not electric; fingers must make metal letters leap to leave an inky imprint on paper rolled into the machine by hand. Though this model was made in Spain, Olivetti is an Italian company known for design. The red “Tab” key, for instance, stands solo in a field of creamy white. A case protects the machine from dust; its handle makes the typewriter portable. The exhibition, All the Stories Are True: African American Writers Speak, featured the typewriter in 2004.
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Anacostia Community Museum
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