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Mark Twain: April Fool, 1884

Edited by Leslie Myrick and Christopher Ohge

Henry C. Bunner to Samuel L. Clemens
31 March 1884 • New York, N.Y. (MS: CU-MARK, UCLC 41860)

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union square,

new york, Mch. 31/ 1884.

My dear Mr. Clemens:

Will you pardon the strangeness of the request if I venture to ask you for your autograph, for my little grand-daughter, now two weeks old?

The little innocent, abroad in this strange world of ours, will, I am sure, value your gift when she is old enough to appreciate it.

My son-in-law Laurence[1] sends you his regards. Believe me

Sincerely yours,

H. C. Bunner


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S. L. Clemens, Esq. | Hartford, | Conn. [postmarked:] new york mar 31 10 pm d 84 [docketed by SLC, in pencil:] Bunner

Explanatory Notes

1. Bunner was twenty-eight years old and unmarried at the time of this letter, so clearly he had no son-in-law or grandchildren. (He did marry in 1885.) "Laurence" refers to his good friend Laurence Hutton, who also participated in the hoax (see his 31 March letter to Clemens). Incidentally, he did name one of his sons Laurence, who was born in 1894. [back]

Textual Commentary

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

Persons Mentioned

Henry Cuyler Bunner  (1855–1896)

H. C. Bunner was a writer and editor who oversaw Puck, the influential humor magazine. His novels included The Midge (1882) and The Story of a New York House (1883), yet he was best known for short stories and sketches about life in New York City, in particular those collected in Short Sixes (1891). His collaborations with Brander Matthews also pushed the boundaries of the short story genre. Clemens probably met Bunner in 1883, when both were inducted into the Kinsmen Club, and they both attended a dinner for Laurence Hutton at the Tile Club in New York City in 1885. Clemens also jotted in his notebook in 1886 to read Bunner's The Midge (N&J3, pp. 105, 115, 240). Clemens was also a frequent houseguest at Bunner's New York City home near Old Battery Park (see NB 33, entry for 9 December 1893, and his 8 December 1893 letter to Olivia Clemens, MSS in CU-MARK).