CAMDEN, Maine — For more than half a century, David McCullough wrote works of history and biography that achieved the uncommon distinction of being hugely popular and critically acclaimed. His books sold millions of copies and he won two National Book Awards and two Pulitzer Prizes.
McCullough died on Sunday at the age of 89.
Each of the words in his books and essays were etched onto the pages via a 1940 Royal manual typewriter.
“I bought it secondhand,” McCullough told NEWS CENTER Maine's Rob Caldwell in 2011 when interviewed at his home in Camden where he spent part of the year. McCullough's recollection was that the price was about $25.
That typewriter stayed at his longtime home on Martha’s Vineyard, but McCullough kept an identical spare in Camden.
“I’ve written everything I’ve ever written on it,” McCullough said in his 2011 interview with evident pride, referring to the original model. “And there’s nothing wrong with it. A beautiful example of American engineering.”
It wasn’t his tools that made his writing so popular, but his technique, part of which he honed in the 1950s as a trainee writing promotional copy for a new magazine called Sports Illustrated.
“It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot,” McCullough previously told Caldwell. “I had an editor, for example, who had a big rubber stamp and it said ‘Dull.’ If you turned something in and it came back stamped with ‘Dull,’ he wouldn’t say why it was dull or what was wrong, but you got the message. I’ve never, ever forgotten that.”