Alistair Cooke on H. L. Mencken’s typing (1956, 1977)

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Alistair Cooke (1908–2004) remembers H. L. Mencken (1880–1956) reporting on the Republican National Convention of 1948, in Philadelphia:

There he sat, as anonymous as any other old reporter, wedged in along the wooden press benches under the bristling glare of the high arc lights, pecking out incomparably saucy sentences on his typewriter with that deliberate manual incompetence which is still one of the professional reporter’s occupational vanities. Mencken carried it to the extreme of parody, hitting the keys only with his tiny forefingers and spacing with his right elbow…

Alistair Cooke, “H. L. Mencken: The public and the private face,” in Six Men, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977), p. 102. Originally appeared as “The Last Happy Days of H.L. Mencken” in The Atlantic Monthly (1956).

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