New Fangled Writing Machine

Few authors have made an impact as enduring as literary icon Samuel Clemens, a man who, under his pen name, Mark Twain, wrote such classics as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a book which has been read by many millions of people around the world since its publication in 1884. It was ten years earlier, whilst

Always Yours

On November 27th of 1875, the great Samuel Clemens—known to most as Mark Twain—wrote the following love letter to his dear wife of almost 6 years, Olivia, on the occasion of her 30th birthday. They remained married until her death, 29 years later. (Source: Complete Letters of Mark Twain; Image: Olivia and Samuel Clemens, via

Your loving Santa Claus

During Christmas in the 1870s, when he wasn’t sending horse-led sleighs piled high with food and toys to his less fortunate neighbours, the inimitable Mark Twain could usually be found at the family home with his wife and young children, often pretending to be Santa Claus. On Christmas morning of 1875, Twain’s 3-year-old daughter, Susie, awoke to find

We have listened long enough to the pessimists

In March of 1906, unable to preside over a public meeting of the Association for Promoting the Interests of the Blind, deafblind activist and author Helen Keller instead sent the following stirring letter to her good friend, Mark Twain. On the day of the event, Twain, who was chairing the meeting in Keller’s absence, read her

I am greatly troubled by what you say

In 1905, the “superintendent of the children’s department” at Brooklyn Public Library ordered that all copies of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn be removed from the room, due to their characters’ “coarseness, deceitfulness and mischievous practices.” Soon after, unhappy with the development, the librarian in charge of the “Department for the Blind,” Asa Don Dickinson, wrote

The bulk of all human utterances is plagiarism

In 1892, deafblind author Helen Keller was accused of plagiarism after a short story of hers, named “The Frost King,” was identified as being extremely similar to Margaret Canby’s “Frost Fairies.” An investigation followed, as did a tribunal in which she was eventually acquitted. Amazingly, Keller was just 12 years of age at the time. A

Interviews are pure twaddle

In December of 1888, shortly before becoming editor of the Ladies’ Home Journal, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward Bok visited Mark Twain at his home to conduct an interview, the intention being to publish the resulting write-up in Bok’s weekly syndicated column. The chat went well; the next day he wrote the piece, and sent a copy to

To the next Burglar

As he slept upstairs on September 8th of 1908, two young burglars entered Mark Twain‘s home, took an entire sideboard into the garden and proceeded to break it open. They were eventually caught by police with a stash of silverware. The next day, with the help of an aspiring young artist named Dorothy Sturgis, Twain

I am gratefuler than ever before…

From 1888, a simple love note from the hand of Samuel Clemens — better known to most as Mark Twain — to his wife, Olivia. Transcript follows. Image courtesy of The Mark Twain House & Museum. Image: The Mark Twain House & Museum Transcript Hartford, Nov. 27/88 Livy Darling, I am grateful — gratefuler than ever before — that

What great births you have witnessed!

In May of 1889, author Mark Twain wrote the following beautiful letter of congratulations to Walt Whitman, the indisputably influential poet behind, most notably, Leaves of Grass. The cause for celebration was Whitman’s upcoming 70th birthday, the imminence of which saw Twain pen not just a birthday wish, but a stunning 4-page love letter to human endeavour, as seen

The vilest book that exists in print

In 1874, publishers Chatto & Windus asked their most renowned author, the inimitable Samuel Clemens, for a brief but quotable review of ‘Nuggets and Dust Panned Out in California by Dod Grille,’ the most recent book by another of their authors, Ambrose Bierce. Given that Clemens and Bierce had known each other since the 1860s and remained good

Mark Twain on proofreaders

“In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made proof-readers.” – Mark Twain, 1893. The inimitable Mark Twain, never one to bite his tongue, had a notoriously turbulent relationship with his countless editors, printers and proofreaders — the very people tasked with ensuring his written words were fit to print. The following letter

Framed by an idiot, passed by muttonheads

“Only one thing is impossible for God: to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet” – Mark Twain In July of 1876, less than a month after the novel’s initial release in England, copies of Mark Twain‘s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer had begun to circulate the U.S. in large numbers. One

An idiot of the 33rd degree

In November of 1905, an enraged Mark Twain sent the following superb letter to J. H. Todd, a salesman who had just attempted to sell bogus medicine to the author by way of a letter and leaflet delivered to his home. According to the literature Twain received, the “medicine” in question — called “The Elixir of

You are a decoration, you little witch!

Mark Twain wrote this truly lovely letter to 9-year-old Enid Jocelyn Agnew in 1907. Enid, also known as Joy, was the daughter of Punch Magazine‘s Managing Director, Philip Agnew. Philip had recently honoured Twain by throwing a bash at Punch’s offices, a gathering at which Joy had presented Twain with a drawing by Punch cartoonist

The Father-in-Law of the Telephone

A few years after the telephone was introduced to the masses, Mark Twain made it clear that he wasn’t a fan of the invention via an article he wrote for New York World. In response, Alexander Graham Bell‘s father-in-law – Gardiner Greene Hubbard – wrote a light-hearted letter to Twain. Soon after, the reply shown