SAMUEL L. "MARK TWAIN" CLEMENS - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 07/12/1889 - HFSID 40499
Sale Price $2,550.00
SAMUEL L. CLEMENS (MARK TWAIN). ALS: "SL Clemens", 1p, 5½x8¾. Hartford, 1889 July 12. To "My Dear Lathrop". In full: "I will send your letter to Mr. Hall. We have established a system: Mr. Hall considers all propositions; after he has arrived at a decision, they are submitted to me, but until that time I have no voice." Lightly creased. ¼-inch tear at blank margin at upper horizontal fold. Fine condition. Accompanied by TLS: "Paul Machlis" as Associate Editor, Mark Twain Papers, 1p, 8½x11. Berkeley, California, 1984 November 20. On University of California, Berkeley letterhead to Todd M. Axelrod, Las Vegas, NV. In full: "On behalf of Robert Hirst [the Editor of the Mark Twain Papers], I would like to thank you for sharing with the Mark Twain Project a photocopy of your recent purchase, Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) to George Parsons Lathrop, letter of 12 July 1889. A tremendous burden of urgent and time-consuming work is keeping the entire project, but especially Bob, particularly busy. Although I have not been able to find very much information directly related to the 12 July letter to Lathrop, what I have found confirms my original impression that it is an important letter in several ways. George Parsons Lathrop (1851-1898), was prominent in nineteenth-century literary affairs through his positions as secretary of the American Copyright League and literary editor of the New York Sun. In July 1888 Charles L. Webster & Company, the publishing house owned by Mark Twain and managed by Frederick J. Hall, was interested in publishing a book suggested by Lathrop-Thomas A. Edison's biography. Although the book did not materialize, neither Hall nor Clemens completely gave up the idea of capitalizing on the public's interest in Edison. In 1890, Hall suggested to Clemens that a book by Edison on electricity would be more profitable than an autobiography, and Clemens replied that 'if you will remind me next time I am down, I will send Geo. Lathrop to ask him if he will dictate a book for us into the phonograph' (Clemens to Hall, 15 October 1890). The letter that you have purchased fills a significant gap in the Clemens-Lathrop story, in that it refers to a yet-unrecovered letter in which Lathrop undoubtedly proposes a publication for Charles L. Webster & Co., most likely a publication by Edison. It is important in another way-it lays out in a very explicit manner the policy determined by Clemens and Hall for major business decisions, and thus indicates the relative degrees of power in the company. This kind of information is especially interesting in light of the company's financial difficulties prior to the letter, and eventual failure several years later. Thank you once again for allowing us the opportunity to read this important and previously unrecorded document." Lightly creased. Ink notes (unknown hand) at upper right margin. Fine condition. Two items.
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