Wired Love

With all the online dating sites these days, it might seem that cyber romance is the wave of the future. But as King Solomon so wisely said, there is nothing new under the sun.

Back in 1879, a female telegraph operator from Boston by the name of Ella Cheever Thayer published a romance novel entitled Wired Love. I ran across this wonderful little book while doing some research into telegraph operators. Apparently many operators were women and could often be identified as such by the delicacy of their “sounding” on the wires. The hero in Miss Thayer’s novel, Clem Stanwood, knows right away that the operator at the “B m” station is female.

Nattie Rogers is intrigued by the mysterious “C” at the “X n” station and seeks out converations that soon turn flirtatious. These two telegraph operators fall in love over the wire without ever laying eyes on one another. I haven’t read the entire novel, but the few chapters I did read were full of delightful humor and banter.

There is one scene about halfway through that was priceless. A case of mistaken identity had scared Nattie off, but Mr. Stanwood arranges a visit to her boarding house and while sitting amongst others in the parlor, he begins tapping out code with his pencil against a marble table top. Nattie recognizes her call name and, taking up a pair of scissors, drums out her own answer. They carry on an entire conversation this way with no one else in the parlor suspecting their action were anything more than idle tapping. Until, that is, Mr. Stanwood reveals himself to be the real “C”.

Nattie jumps to her feet and exclaims aloud, “What do you mean? It cannot be possible!”

Don’t you love it? Hysterical!

Of course everyone else in the room thinks she’s lost her mind except the hero who crosses the room to take her hand.  Ahhh…

Wired Love: A Romance of Dots and Dashes was a best selling book for over 10 years. And why not? The story is timeless. Remember You’ve Got Mail, which was adapted to e-mail from The Shop Around the Corner where Jimmy Stewart did his courting through letters? Very similar premise. And there are so many parrallels to dating in today’s “wired” world. Can you trust that she looks like her description? Is he a gentleman or a stalker? How about the awkwardness of the first face-to-face meet? And with all the abbreviations used on the telegraph lines, it reminded me of the text speak our kids use today. It is really rather eerie how easily Ella Thayer’s story translates to our contemporary society 130 years after it was written.

Wired Love is in the public domain and can be downloaded for free from Amazon or you can read it on Google Books. Those who love research will find a treasure trove of details concerning how a telegraph was run. Those who love to travel back in time will enjoy delving into authentic 19th century life. And those who love a clean love story with a healthy dose of chuckles along the way will find a great read. You might want to give it a try.

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For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com.

30 thoughts on “Wired Love”

  1. Karen,

    WIRED LOVE sounds so charming. Thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely get this for the history and the story.


  2. Loved this post,,,I met my husband on line,an we long distance dated for 2yrs,,1200 miles apart,,him in NH an me in TN,,,an weve been happily married now for 8yrs,,,WIRED LOVE sounds really sweet

  3. Karen, what a fun post. The telegraph has been called the Victorian Internet and in many ways it was. I know a lovely couple who met on line and have been happily married for ten years. It seems that not even distance can stop true love.
    Thank you for sharing.


  4. Karen, I love your blog this morning. How apropos! I can really relate since my daughter found her current beau through an online dating service. While it scared me initially, young people take meeting each other like this for granted. My nephew will be getting married in the spring to a lovely young woman he’d met through an online site which focuses on faith. They’re a perfect match!

    Good job, sister Filly!

  5. Liz – So glad you enjoyed today’s post. It was so much fun for me to discover this 19th century gem.

    Kristen – The opening chapters are full of rich description of how the telegraph was run, but there is so much humor mixed in, it makes a delightful read. And of course, I can’t resist a good love story. Enjoy!

  6. Vickie – Thanks so much for sharing your long distance success story! I love happy endings! 🙂 So where do the two of you live now? NH or TN or somewhere else entirely? Don’t you just love how true love conquors all – even 1200 miles? Love it!

  7. I hadn’t head the term Victorian Internet, Margaret, but I can sure see how that would fit for the telegraph. Love hearing about your friends and their happily ever after meeting online. Great stuff!

  8. Hi, Pam. I’m like you–the idea of meeting someone online sounds scary since you can never be sure who you’re meeting. Then again, I probably watch too many crime shows on TV.

    Of course, I used to be afraid to shop online, too. Now I buy almost all my Christmas gifts through the computer. And I’ve heard so many testimonials about how online dating is working for people (a dear co-worker of mine recently married a man she met online) that I think my fear of this is receeding, too.

    Hooray for your nephew!

  9. Love this, Karen. Such a sweet story, I had no idea. Just goes to show there’s nothing new under the sun.
    The only successful computer date I ever had was when I found my beautiful rescue kitty, Walter, on line.

  10. I just bought it. so, here’s a question, how many of you ‘buy’ those free books and then never read them?
    Is this a problem?
    I don’t use my Kindle much, just can’t get in the habit and I’ve got several of these freebies (like 75) on there that I would love to read.

  11. I have the same issue, Mary. I haven’t even invested in the official Kindle. I just have the ap for my phone. I’ve read a couple books there. Not many, though. I try really hard not to just stock up on free books because they’re free, but to pick and choose which ones I really think I’ll read. Someday I’ll get to them. Maybe. Kind of like the box on cross-stitch patterns I have in my closet. And I paid for all of those!

  12. Karen,
    I loved this! Wow, what a wealth of information! I didn’t know there were so many female telegraph operators. This book, WIRED LOVE, sounds priceless. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. I will definitely download that and read it. Ohhhh, I so hear you about the box of crosstich patterns! What in the world was I thinking? I couldn’t get all those done in a million years, but at the time, I guess I thought I DID have a million years to do them in and would never get tired of it. LOL
    Cheryl P.

  13. I didn’t know you were a fellow stitcher, Cheryl! How fun. I’m almost finished with this year’s project, Celtic Christmas. It’s covered in beads and is simply gorgeous! I hope to have it framed by Christmas. And if I can get the finishing touches done by Saturday, I can use my 60% off framing coupon from Michaels. My fingers need to get busy!

    Now I just have about 100 more projects from that box to go. 🙂

  14. Karen, that sounds just absolutely GORGEOUS. I have not stitched for so long–I loved doing it, and every year around September I start thinking, I need to get that out and work on it again… but have had so many irons in the fire for so long it seems like there is no time. I don’t know how you find time to do it. I did stockings for both my kids, and had started ones for Gary and me, and I keep thinking I still want to finish those! LOL

  15. Ha! There’s a reason it took me all year to get this one done. 🙂 It went untouched for months. I have stockings done for each of the 5 of us, a Christmas tree skirt, ornaments, and a small wall hanging. Christmas means cross-stitch decorations in our house. LOL

    Maybe you’ll find time to get back into it one day. I’ve tried teaching my daughter. She’s made a few little things but loses interest quickly. i didn’t learn until I was in high school, so maybe she’ll pick it up again later.

  16. Thanks, Vickie. I skimmed a lot of it on Google Books, but I’m thinking about downloading it, too. Such a fun little treasure. Glad you came by!

  17. Karen, loved your post. I don’t know why it always surprises me that people could have a sense of humor prior to 1900. I guess I think they had to work so hard just to survive that they didn’t have time to be funny.
    For some reason this reminds me of another freebie: The Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett. Two of the best poets who ever lived and who knew they were so funny and delightful. He wrote her a fan letter and long distance romance blossomed.
    I do read free books at about the same rate as paid ones. Just wished they opened to the cover or a summary. I can’t always remember from the titles which is the one I’m looking for.

  18. I’m with you, Judy. Sometimes the Victorians seem such a dour lot, but then I think of Little Women and how those March girls loved to liven things up and I remember they were all just regular folk like the rest of us.

    Thanks for the note about Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett’s letters. That sounds like a wonderful find. I’ll have to look those up.

    So glad you stopped by today!

  19. I loved this post, Karen! Years ago, while researching, I came across this novel as mentioned in Tom Standage’s “The Victorian Internet”, but could not find the book “Wired Love” anywhere. Eventually I saw a few copies were available at libraries around the country, but this was long before ebooks. I’m thrilled to know I can download this now to my kindle!

  20. Well done post, Karen. This is an excellent resource. 🙂

    I hopped over and downloaded it right away. First, because I’m a history nut. And second, because I was a teletype operator for 20 yrs in the Canadian Armed Forces and anything to do with communications stirs my fancy. 😀

    You’ve made my day!

  21. Hi, Carla. I’m so glad I could reunite you with this fabulous little book. I’ve had so much fun with it. It’s great to be able to share.

    Anita – So glad you found this helpful. I bet you will love the book. How neat that you worked the teletype. I think my mom worked on one of those for a few years for the police department. Hope you have a great weekend!

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