SAMUEL L. "MARK TWAIN" CLEMENS - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 05/21/1870 - HFSID 16926
Sale Price $3,825.00
SAMUEL L. CLEMENS (MARK TWAIN). ALS: "Mark", 3p, 5x7¾, lined sheet. Buffalo, New York, no year but 1870 May 21. To Frank Fuller. American humorist, newspaperman, author and lecturer Samuel L. Clemens (1835-1910) comments on lecturing and plagarism. In full: "You are the infernallest pleasantest scribbler that lives. I want to say that & clinch it, before I proceed to business. No sir --- I won't lecture for a level years from this day & date. The very best lecture manager in America without any exception will pay me five thousand dollars a month, one half in advance & the other payments daily or weekly, as I chose, --- (just note the grammatical flourishes, as you go along) & I had the nerve to refuse! Therefore, seal thy lips upon the good old lecturing business, for there is hardly enough money in America to coax the subscriber on the platform. Avaunt and quit me sight! Now look here - why didn't you know enough to send me name & address of the hound who announces 'Mark Twain's New Papers' - or did you want to go there & eat him yourself? Go straight & get his name & number -- & show him this letter & notify the son of a prostitute to take in that sign.Watch 'John Quill.' He will probably know enough to not let on that he is the party I refer to. No - I don't write for anything but Express & Galaxy & publish books nowhere outside of Hartford. Oh, I'll make that 'New Papers' man famous! Hurry & send me his name & address so that I can publish him. Have ordered our Weekly sent regularly to - 'Gov. Frank Fuller, Girard House, Phila'. You can stand it, I know for I shan't write for it very often. Well I would like to see you, you stately old fool!" Lightly creased with folds, not at signature. Fine condition. Accompanied by TLS: "Robert H. Hirst" as General Editor, Mark Twain Project, 1½p, 8½x11, separate sheets. Berkeley, California, 1983 August 17. On University of California, Berkeley letterhead to Todd M. Axelrod, Las Vegas, NV, Hirst provides background on Clemens' letter. In full: "Thank you once again for the chance to see your recently discovered Mark Twain letter to 'Dear Frank,' dated I believe in the upper right corner, 21 May from Buffalo, N.Y. I find this among your very best letters, inasmuch as it combines the strong interest (and rarity) of letters written before 1875, some quite typical good humored raillery with his correspondent, and Mark Twain's perennial concern with literary pirates-publishers who reprinted his writings without permission and without paying him for the privilege. The year is 1870. His correspondent is a longtime friend since his days in the far West, Frank Fuller. Fuller had a reputation with his friend as an amusing correspondent-he seems almost always to comment on the pleasure he gets from Fuller's letters-but at least up until about 1874, none of Fuller's letters has been found, probably because they were somehow segregated from Mark Twain's files. In any case, it is possible to infer from Mark Twain's letter most of the substance of Fuller's, and therefore to have some idea of what is being discussed. Fuller did a great many things in his long life (he died on 19 February 1915, five years later than Mark Twain), and when he wrote this letter he was living in Philadelphia but working at an as yet unknown job. Since he had successfully engineered Mark Twain's first lectures in New York City (in May 1867), he often volunteered to serve as his manager for future lecture trips-something that never did come about. Mark Twain usually had one or another excuse on hand when these offers appeared-as here, when he declines in a way that suggests no amount of money would induce him to change his mind. (In fact, Mark Twain often changed his mind, and did in fact decide to lecture under the auspices of Redpath & Fall in the winter of 1870-71.) The intriguing and highly interesting testimony of this particular letter from Clemens is that Fuller had sent him some sort of advertisement for 'Mark Twain's New Papers,' presumably in a Philadelphia newspaper. Such offerings were typical of the early years of his fame, since much of what Mark Twain published appeared in newspapers, and since there were in fact many publishers willing to trade on his growing success. Such ventures often included sketches reprinted from the newspapers without Mark Twain's permission, as well as humor written by others and simply attributed to Mark Twain. His anger at and his determination to stop these pirates is as typical as it is amusing, but I should note that we had not previously known of the instance mentioned here and still have much to learn about it. The allusion in the final paragraphs is to the job as editor (and part owner) of the Buffalo Express which Mark Twain had taken on in mid-1869, just before his marriage in February 1870 to Olivia L. Langdon. Good as his word, Mark Twain had by the time of this letter ceased to write very much at all for the Express, which he found more burden than help, and he and his wife would soon abandon Buffalo and the Express in order to move to Hartford, Conn., where they lived more or less without interruption until the early 1890s. Mark Twain's reference to 'John Quill' toward the end of the letter also has to do with the subject of piracy. He had recently learned that a humorist calling himself by this pseudonym had published a story Mark Twain had earlier published, but without giving credit where credit was due. He thereupon published a take off on 'John Quill,' designed to bring his behavior into the proper light. Here he tells Fuller to be on the watch for Quill's response; since Quill worked in Philadelphia, he was presumably continuing to publish there. This is a particularly fine, early letter of Mark Twain's-partly because it is so energetic and playful, partly because it tells us so many details about his life at this time. Thank you once again for allowing me to see it." Lightly creased. Paper clip impression at upper left margins, pencil notes (unknown hand) at upper right margin of first sheet. Fine condition. Framed in the Gallery of History style: 38x22.
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