“The old, old story,” –in a new, new way.
~ Title page of Wired Love: A Romance of Dots and Dashes
Ella Cheeva Thayer (1849-1925) was a novelist, playwright, and telegraphist. She was a telegraph operator at the Brunswick Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, and her experience there became the foundation for her novel, Wired Love: A Romance of Dots and Dashes. The book, published in 1879 (according to Library of Congress) [or 1880, according to almost all other sites], was a bestseller for 10 years. [Wikipedia]
This love story follows a female telegraphist (Nattie, short for Nathalie), a young woman working as a telegraphist in the big city. She begins an acquaintance with “C”, an operator at a distant country station whose skills surprise her–as most country operators aren’t nearly as skilled. The story unfolds with surprises, fun, interesting developments, and though written 137 years ago, it’s definitely worth reading. I learned so much more about the operation of the telegraph and how it really worked. As an author who desired to know more about the true-to-history operation of the telegraph, the lives of the operators and the challenges they faced, I found this book an incredible help.
“B m — X n;”
which same four mystic letters, interpreted, meant that the name, or, to use the technical word, “call,” of the telegraph office over which she was present sold presiding genius, was “B m,” and that “B m” was wanted by another office on the wire, designated as “X n.”
A little, out-of-the-way, country office, some fifty miles down the line, was “X n,” and, as Nattie signaled in reply to the “call” her readiness to receive any communication therefrom, she was conscious of holding in some slight contempt the possible abilities of the human portion of its machinery.
~ Opening page of Wired Love: A Romance of Dots and Dashes
Reading this surviving Victorian-era love story between two telegraph operators shortly after reading the nonfiction title The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-Line Pioneers, was most helpful. Between the two titles, I learned enough to comfortably address the reality of telegraphs in the Old West. Added benefits: immersion in the language of the day, insights into courting practices and true Victorian American attitudes, a glimpse of history such as boarders in hotel-apartments, the reality of a private telegraph line, how one telegraph station ‘called’ another, how downtime was spent on the line, and so much more.
- My Book Affair (review of this title)
- Collision Detection: “Wired Love”: A tale of catfishing, OK Cupid, and sexting … from 1880
BOOK REVIEW: Buying a Bride by Marcia A. Zug BOOK REVIEW: The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-Line Pioneers BOOK REVIEW: Fair Play by Deanne Gist BOOK REVIEW: The Pony Express: The History and Legacy of America’s Most Famous Mail Service BOOK REVIEW: Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Doomed Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York, by Richard Zacks BOOK REVIEW: Object: Matrimony, by Chris Enss BOOK REVIEW: The Doctor Wore Petticoats, by Chris Enss BOOK REVIEW: Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier, by Chris Enss BOOK REVIEW: Legends of the Wild West: Tombstone, Arizona, by Charles River Editors BOOK REVIEW: The Transcontinental Railroad: The History and Legacy of the First Rail Line Spanning the United States, by Charles River Editors BOOK REVIEW: The History of the Telephone, by Herbert Newton Casson BOOK REVIEW: Life in a Victorian Household, by Pamela Horn BOOK REVIEW: Things Mother Used to Make: A Collection of Old Time Recipes, Some Nearly One Hundred Years Old and Never Published Before BOOK REVIEW: Legends of the West: The History of the James-Younger Gang, by Charles River Editors
Copyright © 2016 Kristin Holt, LC