SAMUEL L. "MARK TWAIN" CLEMENS - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 02/17/1871 - HFSID 350489
Sale Price $6,375.00
SAMUEL L. CLEMENS (MARK TWAIN)
The author writes a humorous response to an autograph seeker.
ALS: "Saml L. Clemens/Mark Twain," 1p, 5 x 8. Buffalo, 1871 February 17. To Miss Fannie Dennis, Brooklyn. In full: "To write an autograph is no trouble at all, when a body is used to it, but I never have tried to add a 'sentiment' in my life, & so I assure you it comes awkward enough. Therefore, let us judge just dodge the difficulty entirely & make use of somebody else's sentiment. Now I always admired that neat & snappy thing which good old John Bunyan said to the Duke of Wellington: 'Give me liberty, or give me death!' Isn't it pretty?" Fine condition. Accompanied by TLS: "Robert H. Hirst," General Editor, Mark Twain Project, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, regarding this letter. In part: "I cannot identify Fannie Dennis except to say that she was obviously an autograph collector and possibly a young one. Mark Twain, who never lost touch with the experience and emotions of childhood, generally responded to letters from children with alacrity, recognizing that they were among his responsive readers. The request for a 'sentiment,' that is, a pithy comment that would be more unique than a signature alone, was common and-as Mark Twain's fame increased and the number of such requests multiplied and became burdensome. Here he handles the problem with playful good humor…." Fine condition. Writing to a school-aged child, Mark Twain had fun mixing up the centuries, using names and a quotation he felt every school-aged child should know. John Bunyan, the 17th century English preacher and writer of Pilgrim's Progress, died in 1688. The Duke of Wellington, the 19th century General who defeated Napoléon at Waterloo in 1815, died in 1852. Bunyan could never have said anything to Wellington, especially not the 1775 "Give me liberty" quote of the 18th century American patriot Patrick Henry. At the time of this letter, Clemens had just published Innocents Abroad. Roughing It came out the next year. Visible document measures 4½ x7. Framed by the Gallery of History: 33¼ x 21⅛.
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