[SIGCIS-Members] Source identified - Fwd: Charles Babbage, Novelist

Matthew Kirschenbaum mkirschenbaum at gmail.com
Tue Aug 5 17:15:03 PDT 2014

Thank you, this is hugely helpful. Please let Mr. Swade and Mr.
Robinson know I am very grateful. Matt

On Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 8:05 PM, Marc Weber <marc at webhistory.org> wrote:
> From Tim Robinson's reply to Doron Swade:
> ...
> Given your hint, I was able to track it down.  It's in Passages, but not in
> the section on the Analytical Engine.  Instead it's in the chapter
> "Recollections of Wollaston, Davy, and Rogers", p 194 in the original.
> He is referring to conversations with Rogers.  He says, "I put into his
> hands a parcel of proof-sheets of a work I was then writing, thinking they
> might amuse him during his drive, and that I might profit from is criticism.
> Some years before, I had consulted him about a novel I had proposed to write
> solely for the purpose of making money to assist me in completing the
> Analytical Engine.  I breakfasted with the poet, who entered fully into the
> subject. I proposed to give up a twelvemonth to writing the novel, but I
> determined not to commence it unless I saw pretty clearly that I could make
> about £5000 by the sacrifice of my time.  The novel was to have been in
> three volumes, and there would probably have been reprints of another work
> in two volumes.   Both of these works would have had graphic illustrations.
> The poet gave me much information on all the subjects connected with the
> plan, and amongst other things, observed that when he published his
> beautifully illustrated work on Italy, that he had paid £9000 out of his own
> pocket before he received any return for that work."
> Regards
> Tim
> On 8/5/14, 1:31 PM, doron.swade wrote:
> Dear Marc
> The source is 'Passages from the Life of a Philosopher', Babbage's
> autobiographical excursion. I am away from my sources in London at this time
> so can't check the page number but it is, as I recall, in the chapter on the
> Analytical Engine about where CB writes about tic-tac-toe arcade machines as
> another reference to funding the construction of the Analytical Engine. The
> references CB makes to novel writing appear in the nature of a passing
> musing rather than conscientious intention - but who knows. The intention
> may have been real and the reference only, casual.
> Best wishes
> Doron
> Marc Weber  |   marc at webhistory.org  |   +1 415 282 6868
> Internet History Program Founder and Curator, Computer History Museum
> 1401 N Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View CA 94043
> computerhistory.org/nethistory
> Co-founder, Web History Center and Project, webhistory.org
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Matthew Kirschenbaum
Associate Professor of English
Associate Director, Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH)
University of Maryland
301-405-8505 or 301-314-7111 (fax)
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