Vol 2 Section 0003


To Kimberley

Who makes any struggle worthwhile

What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, and every day, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those other things, are his history. His acts and his words are merely the visible, thin crust of his world, with its scattered snow summits and its vacant wastes of water — and they are so trifling a part of his bulk! a mere skin enveloping it. The mass of him is hidden —  it and its volcanic fires that toss and boil, and never rest, night nor day. These are his life, and they are not written, and cannot be written. Every day would make a whole book of eighty thousand words —  three hundred and sixty-five books a year. Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man —  the biography of the man himself cannot be written.




“David H. Fears’s log of Samuel Clemens’ life is often downright interesting in itself for Twainians. Furthermore, they will get a heightened sense of the whirligig he somehow shaped into an ongoing presence—his now well-known business activities, his tireless socializing, his dealings with plumbers, and his paying bills for groceries (including pilsener beer and cigars, of course). As for Mark Twain authors, Fears will help resolve some cruxes while setting up others unsuspected until now. I’m envious that my generation didn’t have this resource when we were starting out.”  – LOUIS J. BUDD – Professor Emeritus at  Duke University, author of Mark Twain: Social Philosopher

“More fascinating and far better documented than any existing biography of Mark Twain, this study provides a window into every waking—and for that matter, sleeping—moment of Twain’s hyperactive life. Many scholars before David Fears had contemplated undertaking this staggeringly daunting but incredibly useful project….All students of Mark Twain should give heartfelt thanks for this masterful accomplishment. Fears interweaves even Twain’s most quotidian activities into a textured fabric, threading helpful explanations where needed. This book now qualifies as the single most essential reference work in Mark Twain scholarship. We will be indebted to David Fears forever.” – ALAN GRIBBEN – Author of Mark Twain’s Library: A Reconstruction

“Mr. Fears must be fearless! To undertake such an immense project certainly requires courage. Going day-by-day in Twain’s life gives valuable information regarding Twain’s multi-faceted literary, business, and speculative career. Despite the short length of the quotations the flavor of Twain is there: his attention to household matters, his caring role as husband and father, his experience with publishers, the wide-ranging friendships and his biting wit. Fears’ volumes will be a major contribution to Mark Twain Studies.” ­– HOWARD G. BAETZHOLD – Author of Mark Twain & John Bull

“In these pages there is a rich record of the life, works, and Twain’s family and friends.” – THOMAS A. TENNEY, author of Mark Twain A Reference Guide; editor of The Mark Twain Journal.


The scope of Volume II has been expanded, even as Mark Twain’s life expanded in activity and complexity after 1885. What has emerged in the years since this work began is what one scholar has called “The Ultimate Mark Twain Reference Work.” The focus remains on history: these volumes attempt to lay out the historical record in a chronological format, including all significant as well as seemingly insignificant writings, events, persons, and clutter that comprised the life of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Even before his death, there was a flood of study, much of it focusing on the literary, whether process, product, or criticism. Since his demise there has been a veritable tsunami of analysis, plumbing between the lines of nearly every piece written. This is not to say that historical study of Mark Twain has been absent, as the great and enduring work of the Mark Twain Project proves, but that any general survey reveals an imbalance, and gaps or hard to find places in the historical record. I have nothing against literary study or analysis. Twain comes to us first and foremost as the great American writer. But to anyone who has looked beyond that image, even in a surface way, he is much more. So, it is not my purpose to editorialize or wax eloquent about the “meaning” of his writings or even the major events of his life — others have done, and are doing it, and will continue to do so quite adequately, even to deep discussions of motivations for his fictional characters.

Pressing forward in time, material and documentation on Mark Twain seem to increase exponentially. There are fewer gaps of days when no information is found. Readers of Vol. I may notice a change in this aspect of the work, one suggested early on by several scholars — that is, a listing of all dates, even when no information is found. Doing so takes a bit more space, but benefits the study by showing all citations in a somewhat better perspective and reflecting important gaps. This was not practical for Vol. I. Readers may annotate empty dates should they wish to do so.

As in Vol. I, the letters form the backbone of this work, and these are expanded here. In Vol. II nearly all incoming letters for the period have been reviewed, and are paraphrased, quoted or at least given a one or two line summary. This was not done in Vol. I. It must be stated that a few catalog errors were noted and corrected, such as letters to Whitmore showing in the MTP catalog as letters to SLC. More important figures, such as William Dean Howells, or Joe Goodman are quoted when useful. This is my bias. Whenever Sam annotated the letter or envelope, effort was made to include these (although many catalogued as “annotated” give nothing more than Sam writing the sender’s name on the envelope); also given is the origin of the incoming letter, if it is clear from the file. Inclusion of available incoming letters affords a clearer perspective, since the majority (I would estimate three-quarters) of Sam’s letters are responses. Such a method clarifies many issues, and certainly has pinpointed a few more dates, though it may also have introduced errors as well, from assumptions made which look reasonable, but which may not hold water upon further stomping around in the sources. Careful stomping, that is. The value of the letters, both incoming and outgoing, cannot be underestimated — they are the “skeleton” upon which the many other sources can be applied. Unpublished notebooks have also been used to great benefit. No one source is infallible, not even primary ones. Letters are at times misdated by the sender, or have omissions which can be perplexing. Newspaper accounts can also contain egregious errors, as many reporters seemed unable to correctly report such details as Sam’s middle initial, or reported his presence at some event when he did not go. Diaries can be later recollections, and Sam’s famous memory is often faulty. Still, having both sides of discussion on an issue in Sam’s life is certainly more accurate. And, though this work may indeed be viewed as “a different sort of biography,” it is first and foremost a historical record, hopefully readable to the average intelligent person, and hopefully as accurate as possible.

Since Sam’s letters after 1880 are taken mostly from preliminary transcripts generously provided by Robert Hirst and the Mark Twain Project, I have tried to correct obvious errors within those transcripts, having been advised that it is a slow boat that churns through the murky waters from the holographic to the fully and professionally edited transcript with notations, which are lacking after 1876 at this time. All errors made in the use of these transcripts are my own. Those who follow after me will undoubtedly correct all disguised errors. For incoming letters in holographic form, not yet transcribed, I have omitted my many curse words used in trying to decipher them. At times, I hoisted the white flag and moved on, noting only that the writer needed a better quill.

The Addenda & Errata for Volume I is added to the back of this volume II, which serves to emphasize there have been and will continue to be errors to fix, additions and deletions to make — that these volumes are far from the final word. Readers should check these emendations when referencing Volume I. There will no doubt be a similar addition to Volume III for Vol. II. Each volume is separately indexed. And while a cumulative index might be helpful, the many pages this would require would of necessity take from pages for content. As it is, 1,200 page books tax both the muscles and the mind.

Whenever possible, I have used terms such as “possibly,” “likely,” “evidently,” or “almost certainly” when coming to conclusions about certain letters and notes, attempting to be neutral and presenting all points of interest or view. In some cases, such as Sam’s intention to tell “L” about his scheme to buy the remains of Christopher Columbus and bring them to New York or Washington, I have made certain assumptions about Sam’s awareness. I judge the “L” to be for William Mackay Laffan rather than for Livy, who most certainly would have frowned upon such a harebrained idea. Facts relevant, and my assumptions are always included under “Notes:” for a given entry.

Also added and appropriately placed in dates are non-extant but “connected” letters — that is, letters referred to as received or sent in existing letters. These have not been included in past catalogs of letters, either the MTP catalog nor the Union Catalog of Letters to and from SLC. When “connecting” many of the incoming letters to Sam’s replies, it is evident that some initiating letters to Sam are not listed in the incoming of MTP and thus are lost (or are out there in private hands, surfacing literally every week, so I’m told.) I have tried to note when such implicit incoming letters are not listed in the MTP files, though a few may not be so designated.

What is NOT in this volume are references to each and every interview, review, or newspaper article in countless publications — those sources exploded in number during the 1880’s and 90’s as Mark Twain became a true American icon — a “constructed” American icon, if you will, his name was used in a wide range of articles and advertisements. No work can include all of these in a comprehensive way, but many of the interviews and literary references may be found in such works as Tenney’s A Reference Guide, or in Budd and Scharnhort’s collections of interviews (see Works Cited.) What is presented here of these types of materials is a representative sampling, both from primary and secondary sources. As to websites, I have often found errors, omissions, and a sorry lack of sources; due to the ephemeral and fast-evolving nature of the Internet, I have avoided when practical the quoting of these websites, especially where there is a print source duplicating the item. With respect to auction sites that display past sales of primary materials, the URL is given, or at least the identification number of the item and the date of my discovery online and/or the date of sale. I have noted when at the MTP that many of these items have been printed out for reference there. Also, a representative number of “family letters” are included but not all.

I do not claim an infallible or complete record for this work. I welcome properly cited correction or addition — even from Satan himself (not Sam’s cat, mother of “Sin,” but the pitchfork man). This work has paid me with smiles daily, and some good laughter as well, and so a few stray comments of my own whimsy have, here and there, crept in. I have tried not to editorialize, save for when I was damned impressed or provoked. To the academic purists who sniff at calling Mr. Clemens “Sam,” — I plead guilty. If Sam was right, that there is no humor in heaven, and quite a few academics will sport halos, though I hold fast to the hope that he was at least partly mistaken in this. I confess to having escaped academia myself, among other miraculous cures.

We will never have the complete, correct record without flaw, but then, neither was the man or his life we study complete without flaw. Perhaps it is his very duality, the myriad of aspects at odds in his thought and life which make him so very human, and which drive our curiosity to know more, which ultimately leads to self-discovery. Onward to Volume III.  David H Fears 2009

Conventions Used

† ­ With this volume the dagger designates this editor’s estimate of date or place. These may ultimately be confirmed or revised by future researchers, and are solely this editor’s calculation or opinion. There may also be many sections where estimates are made from several sources and the dagger not used.

‡ – The double dagger designates in-text corrections made after the first print run; these are also listed in Addenda & Errata sections at the front of each volume after the first print run.

Dates: I have followed the conventions used by the University of California Press on the volumes of Mark Twain’s Letters, except I offer the day of the week, which in some cases is helpful. To wit:


October 5 Thursday – Sources indicate this is a confirmed date, or a deduced date from events or

other evidence. Firm dates come before conjectured or circa dates and date ranges.

October 3? Tuesday    

The question mark indicates a conjecture of October 3. Conjecture dates are listed separately following firm dates.


June 2429 Saturday

A span of dates joined by a dash indicates a less specific conjecture: the date or dates of composition are thought to fall within this span. Day of the week is ascribed to the last date in the span. The last date in a period is noted by its day of the week. Such entries are listed separately.


June 24 to 29 Saturday – Not a conjecture, but an assertion that some event ran from June 24 through June 29. Such date ranges are listed separately.

May 2 and 3 Friday

Not a conjecture, but an assertion that the event or activity occurred at least in part on both days. Such inclusive dates are listed separately.


May 1 Friday ca.

A conjecture of an approximate date, month, year or season. Similar to May 1st? but with less specificity. May also be specified as “on or before,” or “on or after.” Circa dates are listed separately.


Items for which only a month is known, or for magazine-type publications issued for a given month.


Items for which a year is known, but not a month or date.


Note: Dates are arranged in order; spans of dates and single dates are sorted by the first date in a span. Conjectured dates are usually separate from known or consensus dates. Thus there are separate entries for May 1 Friday, and May 1? Friday; May 17 Thursday would follow May 1220 Sunday. Occasionally entries are labeled “Mid-month” or “End of Month” or “Early Spring,” etc. Confirmed dates are listed first.


Where unsigned articles have been ascribed to Sam Clemens by major researchers, I have followed their lead but specified, “attributed.” “Sam” when shown without surname is used throughout to mean Mark Twain/ Samuel L. Clemens; likewise “Livy” designates Olivia Louise Clemens; “Susy” has been chosen for Olivia Susan Clemens over the spelling “Susie,” which is seen in earlier references to her. “Jane Clemens” is used for Sam’s mother, “Pamela” or “Pamela Moffett” for his sister, “Orion” for his brother. For certain dominant people in Sam’s life, or dominant within certain periods, last names only are given: Howells, Twichell, Cable, etc. Middle names are usually omitted, in favor of a middle initial; some middle initials are omitted, when reference is clearly to one person, such as Hjalmar Boyesen. “Frank” is often given for “Francis”; “Joe” for Joseph, when the person was a familiar figure in Sam’s life, such as Joe Twichell, Frank Bliss, etc.


MLA formatting is followed for in-text and Works Cited, with exceptions made for MT “standard” abbreviations such as MTBus or MTLTP (see abbreviations), and follow the MT Project’s conventions when possible. Use of [brackets] for in-text citations, as well as editor’s inserts within quoted text. (Where letters use square brackets, parentheses are substituted.) Preference has been given where possible to accessible texts — in other words, if a letter may be found in Paine’s volumes, MTLL, MTLTP, etc., as well as at the MTP, the citation is shown for a published source over the MTP source, or, the more accessible source. In a few cases more than one source is given.

Some exceptions are made to standard MT scholarly convention, such as MTL with volume numbers used for the U. of Calif. volumes, whereas this abbreviation in the past was used for Paine’s volumes of letters, which I cite as MTLP, in the few cases I use them. A few other conventions are modified, such as LM instead of LoM for Life on the Mississippi. See Abbreviations.

Nearly every date given requires a citation, though some are calculated from sources. Because both primary and secondary sources are used, errors and omissions may have been introduced. Hopefully, more study of primary sources will amend such shortcomings.

R – This symbol was used in Vol. I for incoming letters not reviewed.


Editor’s opinions:


The few opinions on events or interpretation of an entry follow all citation designators as well as extra information following “Note”; These remarks are offered as simply one man’s view, and every effort has been made to keep them short and pithy, without obstacle to the meaning of the listing. Of course, I hold title to many more opinions than the few exposed here. Admittedly, a work of this scope carries errors and inconsistencies. That’s what future appendixes, supplements and editions are for. Ultimately, I hope for online status for the whole work.

Misc: Bold Entries, Italics, Strike-outs, Quotations, use of sic:

All references to dates are bold, save for those within quotes. Also bold are first mentions of persons and places (including lecture halls, etc.) within each date entry. Subjects and titles are not in bold. Indented are letter, newspaper excerpts (boxed) and longer commentaries from biographers and scholars. This aids ease of reading, finding one’s place and appearance. Italics are used when the primary source uses underlines, except for newspaper reports using underlines. They are also used for all inscriptions noted, especially those in books given as gifts. When Sam Clemens uses strikeouts to convey his real or additional meaning, those are usually retained — all other strikeouts, thought to be drafting strikeouts, are not included. Due to all the variant spellings of the day, use of vernacular, and the many misspellings by some writers, the use of sic has been limited to a few instances. Maddenly, some surnames were spelled in more than one way. Choice here was made to stick with one, trying to follow the MTP’s examples. 


Corrected sources and method used; the “not in” listings:


Inevitably, sources contain errors. When an error is perceived it is sometimes, but not always, reported. This is not to point any blame or to discredit any source or author, but merely to report findings. Prejudice is given to contemporary works, with Internet sources taking a much lower priority. Apologies to egos aside, the errors, omissions and oddities should be reported.


Also, some notable material is missing from standard works. Whenever possible these are pointed out, as in “Not in Gribben,” or “Not in Scharnhorst,” to save the reader/researcher effort in tracing back material. When errors were found in the MTP catalogue, such as letters to Livy or Whitmore that were catalogued as to SLC, these are left out or noted. The MTP catalogue misleads when it lists a letter from a person for a company — one particular listing found was a letter from a man FOR the U.S. Senate. Upon review it was discovered the man was a clerk in Washington using Senate letterhead to write asking for Sam’s autograph — hardly a letter FOR the Senate. In every such case the language in this work has been changed to, for example, “John Doe wrote on US Senate letterhead asking for Sam’s autograph for his daughter,” etc. Also, many listings from the Charles Webster & Co., which are nothing more than monthly financial reports of several types, often without corresponding letters, have been catalogued by the MTP under the month of the report. These have been placed in the following month here, as they could not have been sent until the month closed — thus, March 1889’s monthly report is placed as being sent in April, 1889. In all such cases a strict chronology is attempted. Is this an error on the MTP’s part? No, but merely a different way to categorize these entries. Likewise, when a pack of Daily Reports was sent, the MTP dates these as a range of dates and places them at the first date. We place them at the last date and note the range within that entry, since they could not have been mailed earlier.




A.D.                 Autobiographical dictations, MTP.

AC                   The American Claimant

ALR                 American Literary Review

BAMT              The Bible According to Mark Twain. Baetzhold, Howard G. and McCullough, Joseph B., eds. New York: Touchstone, 1995.

CY                    Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

ET&S   1: 2:     Early Tales & Sketches. Vol. 1, 1851-1864. Vol. 2, 1864-1865. Edited by

Edgar M. Branch and Robert H. Hirst. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979-81.

FE                    Following the Equator

GA                   The Gilded Age

IA                     Innocents Abroad

JA                    Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

LAL                  Library of American Literature

LLMT               The Love Letters of Mark Twain. Edited by Dixon Wecter. New York: Harper & Bros 1949

LM                   Life on the Mississippi

LWMT              A Lifetime With Mark Twain. Edited by Mary Lawton. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1925.

MMT                My Mark Twain, by William Dean Howells. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1910.

MTA                 Mark Twain’s Autobiography. Edited by Albert Paine. 2 vols. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1924.

MTB                 Mark Twain A Biography, by Albert Paine, 4 vols. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1912.

MTE                 Mark Twain in Eruption, Edited by Bernard DeVoto. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1922.

MTHHR           Mark Twain’s Correspondence with Henry Huttleston Rogers 1893-1909. Edited by Lewis Leary. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.

MTHL 1: 2:       Mark Twain-Howells Letters: The Correspondence of Samuel L. Clemens and William Dean Howells. Edited by Henry Nash Smith and William M. Gibson. 2 vols. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960.

MTJ                 Mark Twain Journal. Edited by Thomas A. Tenney.

MTL 1: – 6:       Mark Twain’s Letters. Volumes 1-6. 1853-1875. Edited by Edgar M. Branch, et al. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988-2002.

MTLE 1: – 5:    Mark Twain’s Letters, Electronic Volumes 1-5. 1876-1880. Mark Twain Project.

MTLP 1: – 2:     Mark Twain’s Letters. 2 vols. Edited by Albert Bigelow Paine. New York: Harper & Bros 1917.

MTLTP             Mark Twain’s Letters to His Publishers, 1867-1894. Edited by Hamlin Hill. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.

MTMF              Mark Twain to Mrs. Fairbanks. Edited by Dixon Wecter. San Marino, Calif.: Huntington Library, 1949.

MTP                 Mark Twain Papers, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

MTPO              Mark Twain Project Online (as of late 2007)

MT & GWC      Mark Twain and George W. Cable, by Alan Turner.

MTNJ 1: – 3:     Mark Twain’s Notebooks & Journals. Volumes 1 – 3. 1855-1891. Edited by Frederick Anderson, et al. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979.

MTS&B            Mark Twain’s Satires & Burlesques. Franklin R. Rogers, ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.

NB  TS             Sam’s unpublished notebooks, given with a TS (transcription page #)

PW                   Pudd’nhead Wilson

P&P                 The Prince and the Pauper

S&MT              Susy and Mark Twain, by Edith Colgate Salsbury, Harper & Row, 1965.

TS                    Transcription

TS                    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

TSA                  Tom Sawyer Abroad

TSD                 Tom Sawyer, Detective

ViU                  Barrett Collection, University of Virginia