The Wireless Voice

Natalie Ferris

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


‘I am just an echo-chamber myself’
(Christine Brooke-Rose, 1970)

In the decades after leaving Bletchley Park, Christine Brooke-Rose was troubled by the intrusions of noises or voices. This became particularly irksome during immersive periods of writing. As one friend recalled, ‘One of her more neurotic habits was to bury the telephone in cushions to deaden its ring when she wanted to write undisturbed. Then she would parcel the whole thing up into a net and hang it on the door handle so that it was physically impossible to answer it in time.’ She could not trust herself to ignore the telephone’s call, as seduced by the unknown communication lingering at the end of the line – the ‘wireless voice’ – as she had been many years previously in Hut 3.
This short paper will tap – both creatively and critically – into Brooke-Rose’s ‘wireless voice’, to ask larger questions of the technology used to transmit signals, in telegraphy and radio broadcasting, and of the radical potential of voices unloosed and disconnected from circuits of understanding. A recurrent mode expressed in her early writing, this disembodied voice negotiates interference and misinformation, searches inscrutable terrains for answers, meanings, idioms it cannot locate, and yet persists in the attempt through the calculated cross-cutting of words, images, and sounds. What new potential was there for a voice that could elude immediate understanding?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2020
EventTelepoetics - Dana Research Centre, Science Museum (Online) , London, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 May 20205 Jun 2020


Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Christine Brooke-Rose
  • post-war
  • post-war poetry
  • british literature
  • telephony
  • telephone
  • intelligence services
  • bletchley park
  • cryptanalysis
  • women's writing
  • women's literature


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