Book Review: Wired Love

Cover Art from Mr. Ron's Basement

Wired Love: A Romance of Dots and Dashes
By Ella Cheever Thayer
First published 1879

One of the things I love about writing historical fiction is that it’s an excellent excuse for tracking down mostly-forgotten texts written in the time period I’m writing about, and indulging myself by reading them while pretending I’m working.

Wired Love by Ella Cheever Thayer is an excellent example of that.

I’ve long been intrigued by the similarities between our times and the 1880s. Wired Love, which was published in 1879, points out another connection. The book tells the story of an early online romance conducted between telegraph operators. The relationship progresses much as you would expect it to if it were conducted using say,, today. Pitfalls are recognizable to anyone who’s used an online dating network, chat rooms, Twitter, instant messaging, social networking page, or email to strike up a new relationship (or friendship) with someone else online.

And that connection described in language that is clearly true to its time makes it (at least for me) a fun read.

While this book took a while for me to find when I was hunting it down several years ago (for a while it looked like I’d have to camp out in either the New York City or the Boston Public Library to read their reference copy), you won’t have to spend very long looking for it at all, thanks to Project Gutenberg, Google Books, and Mister Ron’s Basement.

(My goodness, online libraries have certainly improved since I first started hunting for this book.)


About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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