From Joan Acocella's "The Typing Life," a review of Darren Wershler-Henry's The Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting in the April 9 issue of The New Yorker:
Nietzsche used a typewriter. This is hard to imagine, but in the effort to stem his migraines and his incipient blindness—symptoms, some scholars say, of an advanced case of syphilis—he bought one of the new contraptions. So did Mark Twain, and he was the first important writer to deliver a typewritten manuscript, “Life on the Mississippi,” to a publisher. Henry James also had a typewriter, and a secretary, to whom he dictated. That is a famous fact; it is said to have contributed to the extreme complexity of James’s late-period style. (But why would oral composition make a writer’s prose more complex, rather than more simple? Again, Wershler-Henry does not address the question.) James got used to the sound of his Remington; when it was in the repair shop and he had to use a loaner, the new machine’s different sound drove him crazy. For many years after his death, his devoted typist, Theodora Bosanquet, claimed that she was still receiving dictation from him. Indeed, through her spirit medium she was informed that Thomas Hardy, George Meredith, and John Galsworthy, all as dead as James, also wanted to use her stenographic services.
Wershler-Henry tells us about William S. Burroughs, who wrote in certain of his novels—and may have believed—that a machine he called the Soft Typewriter was writing our lives, and our books, into existence. We also hear about Jack Kerouac, who typed “On the Road” on a roll of paper so that the job of changing the paper would not interrupt him and thrust him back into the world’s inauthenticity. Kerouac was a fast typist—a hundred words a minute. Two weeks after starting “On the Road,” he had a single single-spaced paragraph a hundred and twenty feet in length. Scholars disagree as to whether the scroll was shelf paper or a Thermo-fax roll or sheets of architect’s paper Scotch-taped together. As with Burroughs, Kerouac’s relationship to the typewriter was heavily mediated by drugs. He would buy nasal inhalers, pry them open, and eat the Benzedrine-soaked paper within, followed by a chaser of coffee or Coca-Cola. Don’t run to the drugstore. They’ve changed the formula.