Wednesday, July 20, 2016

COMPUTERS IN NEELSDOM – Another Betty Myth – Busted

I do love it when Betties do my work for me. Betty Anonymous sent me this email and it's a fantastic illustration of how some of these tropes we associate with The Great Betty are not grounded in perfect evidence. Enjoy!: 

The topic came up in a comment in the facebook group, months ago: "I always know a later book when computers are mentioned, only in passing though"
Only in passing? Do we tend to remember only the times where the heroine has no idea how to work with a computer, and then continue to paint all the heroines with the same brush?
There are, in actual fact, FOUR heroines who do know a thing or two about computers.
I had read one of their stories, A Kiss for Julie, a couple of months earlier, so after reading that comment, I just had to go and investigate, and came up with three more computer knowledgeable Neels heroines.
— The Betty Computer Novel— ;o)Computers are mentioned 15 times in the novel. From the first chapter to the last, Julie Beckworth thumps away on the keyboard.
A bad start, reflected Julie, thumping the computer with unnecessary force.
Someone had brought her bag and computer up to the room; she unpacked what she would need and put the computer on the solid little table by the window. She still had half an hour's typing to do. The professor, being the man he was, would probably ask for it the moment he saw her in the morning.
AN IDEAL WIFE, © 1998, heroine: Louisa Howarth
Would she need her typewriter or computer? Surely he would have all that at his own practice? She supposed she would have to ask him. She dismissed these troublesome details from her head and picked up the phone; there were Sir James’s clinics and ward rounds to sort out at the various hospitals he visited.
MATILDA’S WEDDING, © 2000, heroine: Matilda Paige
When she had left school she had taken a course in shorthand and typing, learned how to use a computer and simple bookkeeping. She had never had the chance to use these skills, for her mother had needed her at home, but now, several years later, she was glad that she would be able to augment her father’s pension.
A CHRISTMAS ROMANCE, © 2001, heroine: Theodosia Chapman
She had no special qualifications; she could type and take shorthand, cope adequately with a word processor and a computer and could be relied upon, but none of these added up to much.
Computers are mentioned in, at least, 26 novels, mostly in passing.

My favourite passage:
There was nothing; at least, there was plenty of work for anyone who understood computers and the like and there were several pigpersons wanted, for pig breeding flourished in her part of the world.
Heart you Betty!
There was a computer, too, an electric typewriter and an answering machine all arranged on a smaller table under the two long windows. 'I have a secretary who comes three or four times a week and sees to my letters.' He flipped over the pile of correspondence on his desk. 'Let us go upstairs.'
His study was a comfortable room lined with bookshelves, with a fire burning in the small fireplace and a desk loaded with papers, a computer, telephone and reference books. He sat down behind it with a sigh of pleasure.
This was a small, comfortably furnished room, with rows of bookshelves, a massive desk, a chair behind it and two smaller ones each side of the small fireplace. Under the window was a table with a computer and a pile of papers and books.