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Mark Twain: April Fool, 1884

Edited by Leslie Myrick and Christopher Ohge

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Lilian Aldrich to Samuel L. Clemens
31 March 1884 • Boston, Mass.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCLC 41850)

My dear “Mark”,

If it is not too much trouble will you kindly copy one of your exquisite Poems for me?[1]

I well know how Poets & literary men are angered by constant requests for their autographs & have been waiting with great impatience for long time, hoping for a letter from you announcing the time of your promised visit to us— In this way I should have received what I most desire—your autograph, & the date of the visit.

Yours most affectionately,

Lillian Aldrich.

59 Mt German St. March 31st


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Mr Samuel L Clemens | Hartford | Conn. [postmarked:] [matta]pan station mass mar 31 6 pm [docketed by SLC, in pencil:] Mrs Aldrich

Explanatory Notes

1. Of course Lilian's husband, Thomas, was a devoted poet, and Clemens was at best an unprolific one. Her request might also be alluding to the fact that Clemens's first letter to Thomas Bailey Aldrich, from 15 January 1871, asked him to correct his statement in his journal Every Saturday that Clemens had plagiarized Bret Harte's poem "The Heathen Chinee" (L4, 304–5; also available at MTPO). [back]

Textual Commentary

Copy-text:The Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK).

Persons Mentioned

Mary Elizabeth "Lilian" Woodman Aldrich  (1841–1927)

Mary Elizabeth "Lilian" (née Woodman) married the writer and editor Thomas Bailey Aldrich in 1865. In 1920 she published a memoir of her late husband entitled Crowding Memories. (See also Gary Scharnhorst's Twain in His Own Time [University of Iowa Press, 2010], 95–98). Clemens did not have a high opinion of her. For example, in a 27 December 1893 letter to his daughter Susy, he fumed about Lilian: "Lord, I loathe that woman so! She is an idiot—an absolute idiot—& does not know it. She is sham, sham, sham—not a genuine fibre in her anywhere—a manifest & transparent humbug—& her husband, the sincerest man that walks, doesn’t seem aware of it. It is a most extraordinary combination: he, fine in heart, fine in mind, fine in every conceivable way, sincere, genuine, & lovable beyond all men save only Joe Jefferson—& tied for life to this vacant hellion, this clothes-rack, this twaddling, blethering, driveling blatherskite!" (MS facsimile in CU-MARK).