April 9 Friday – Two copies of How to Tell a Story and Other Essays were deposited with the US
Copyright Office [Hirst, “A Note on the Text” Afterword materials p.21, Oxford ed. 1996]. Note: the title piece, “How to
Tell a Story” ran first in the Oct. 1895 issue of Youth’s Companion. Note: M. Johnson gives Mar. 9 as official publication date.
Henry J. Harper wrote to Sam having rec’d his of Mar. 25 (not extant), together with the “belated Silver Wedding present to Mrs. Clemens” (for the subsequent issues of JA). Harper thought the tribute was “not subject to the ravages of time…but will endure while the English language lasts” [MTP].
April 10 Saturday – At 23 Tedworth Square in London, Sam wrote to Mr. Maxwell (not further identified), approving some unspecified action of Maxwell’s, which Sam thought a good idea: “What do I think of it? I think you did well & wisely” [MTP]. Note: Again this is a reply to an not-extant letter. It would seem that many incoming letters from this London period were not saved.
Sam also wrote to Joe Twichell, responding to his not-extant letter in which Joe inserted a letter, by a lady who evidently defended Sam against rumors.
Mrs. Plunkett’s letter is most pleasant & acceptable reading. It is not my disposition to let those newspaper-libels pass unchallenged, but it is my policy to do it. To answer them would but widen their currency & breed others. If the scene were England I would take hold of them at once in the courts & make their propagators very sick; but America has no libel law; there, a man’s character is legally prey of any journalistic assassin that wants it.
I don’t like to see the family dragged in & slandered, but they don’t seem to mind it, & I don’t very greatly mind it myself. The fifteen or twenty people who really know Livy & the children, need no denials of that slander; what the rest think, could not be a matter of consequence unless Livy & the children were public characters, & that they are not. As for my reputation I care not a damn for any smirch upon it put there by myself.
Sam also wrote he was finishing his book, which “comes near to satisfying me” [MTP].
Note: The nature of the “slander” against the family is not specified here, but it is likely that referred to Sam’s Mar. 28 notebook entry: a newspaper clipping with the heading, “Close of a Great Career,” which falsely reported Sam was “living in penury in London” and that his family had forsaken him.
William R. Plunkett (1831-1903), a leading citizen and public official of Pittsfield, Mass. Plunkett graduated from Yale the same year Joe Twichell entered. Plunkett’s second wife, sister of his first, was May Kellogg Plunkett, and likely the lady referred to. Also see MTNJ 3: 196n47. In 1869 Plunkett and others founded the Monday Evening Club in Pittsfield, the same year a like club was founded in Hartford. Sam spoke to the Pittsfield Wed. Morning Club on Oct. 7, 1885. See entry Vol. I.
An anonymous article, “Mark Twain’s Home in the Temple of Fame,” ran in the Literary Digest, April 10, p.701. Tenney: “Summarizes the estimate of MT by Charles Miner Thompson in the April Atlantic” .
April 11 Sunday
April 12 Monday – The ledger books of Chatto & Windus show that 1,500 (3s.6d.) additional copies of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were printed , totaling 32,500 [Welland 236].
April 13 Tuesday – London. Sam claimed another “finished” for FE [Apr. 14 to MacAlister]. Note: This was to
be only a draft. Sam’s notebook also registered: “London, Apl. 13, ’97. I finished my book today” [NB 41 TS 21].
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.