Dear Mark Twain: Letters from His Readers (Jumping Frogs: Undiscovered, Rediscovered, and Celebrated Writings of Mark Twain)

Dear Mark Twain: Letters from His Readers (Jumping Frogs: Undiscovered, Rediscovered, and Celebrated Writings of Mark Twain)

R. Kent Rasmussen

Language: English

Pages: 316

ISBN: 0520261348

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A voracious pack-rat, Mark Twain hoarded his readers' letters as did few of his contemporaries. Dear Mark Twain collects 200 of these letters written by a diverse cross-section of correspondents from around the world—children, farmers, schoolteachers, businessmen, preachers, railroad clerks, inmates of mental institutions, con artists, and even a former president. It is a unique and groundbreaking book—the first published collection of reader letters to any writer of Mark Twain's time. Its contents afford a rare and exhilarating glimpse into the sensibilities of nineteenth-century people while revealing the impact Samuel L. Clemens had on his readers. Clemens’s own and often startling comments and replies are also included.

R. Kent Rasmussen’s extensive research provides fascinating profiles of the correspondents, whose personal stories are often as interesting as their letters. Ranging from gushing fan appreciations and requests for help and advice to suggestions for writing projects and stinging criticisms, the letters are filled with perceptive insights, pathos, and unintentional but often riotous humor. Many are deeply moving, more than a few are hilarious, some may be shocking, but none are dull.

Washington Square (Signet Classics)

Yellow birds

Not Without Laughter

The Town (Snopes Trilogy, Book 2)











later write a biography of Barnum, also wished to publish some of the letters (Saxon, personal communication, 17 October 2012; see also Saxon’s P. T. Barnum, 260–261, 395, and his Selected Letters of P. T. Barnum [New York, 1983]; and Mark Twain’s Letters, vol. 6, 369–371). 6. Letters to Sherlock Holmes, ed. R. L. Green (New York, 1985), resembles a collection of letters to Santa Claus in that most of its letters were addressed to an imaginary character; however, it also contains a handful of

Greenwald (1811–1885), pastor of a Lancaster Lutheran church. If Clemens knew that Keily’s letters passed through the hands of newspaper editors, he may have written his carefully crafted reply expecting it might be published. Clemens doubtless invented his story about catching up on correspondence around Washington’s birthday to explain why he had not replied sooner. Nevertheless, several people who read his letter in newspapers may have taken him seriously. For example, on 30 March 1880, Edson

many thanks for your kindness, and hoping that you may find time and inclination for the perusal of a few pages of the accompanying crude literary effort, I remain Respectfully Yours, F. A. Stokes, 41 Adelaide St., Detroit, Mich. Clemens’s comment: Not much of a book. Clemens received more requests for writing and publishing help than he could answer, but this letter shows he did occasionally help young writers, although his message to this correspondent is lost. The correspondent’s book, College

when he wrote, William Preston Harrison (1869–1940) was the son of Chicago mayor Carter Harrison Sr. (1825–1893), who would later be assassinated at the very address from which William was writing. William’s older brother, Carter 1881–1890 101 Harrison Jr. (1860–1953), would also serve as Chicago’s mayor. William himself later studied at the University of Chicago and in Eu rope and went into journalism. In 1918, he moved to Los Angeles, where he became a noted art patron and art director of

you could, more than a thousand others with philosophy, alter our financial policy with, Satire, or humour Our “protection” system is to me and thousands of other good people, yourself included I think, Just as grotesque as Knight errantry (in another way of course and considering the enlightenment of an age) Now, while you are in the vigor of your manhood, and powers why not use the gifts nature has endowed you with to do a great good to your country, and Leave to posterity a fame which ages

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