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In this paper, I review the Thanks for Typing conference held at Oxford University in March 2019, which explored the experiences of women who worked as literary helpmeets for famous men. I also give some details from the papers presented there. In my paper ‘“Jumped-up Typists”: Two secretaries who became guardians of the flame’, I discussed how two literary wives, Sophia Mumford (1899–1997), wife of the American historian and philosopher Lewis Mumford, and Valerie Eliot (1926–2012), second wife of T. S. Eliot, found their identities in supporting, and later defending, their husbands’ work. I also looked at the consequences of their devotion as they grew older. It was clear from the papers presented at Thanks for Typing that the contributions of the women who surround powerful or influential men—not only as typists but as assistants, muses, and even managers of their husbands’ affairs—are often hidden and suppressed. The full acknowledgment of those who contribute to creative and intellectual work is a subject that needs further attention from both men and women.

In: Logos